How to Ace an Interview Every Single Time!
Interview Tip #1: RESEARCH THE COMPANY AHEAD OF TIME. Before you even think about what to wear or mentally calculating how much money you will be earning if this interview goes well, take some time and do your homework on the company you are applying to. Check out their website, look for online reviews, get a feel of what they stand for, how many employees they have, how long they’ve been around, etc. This not only takes some of the mystery out of the upcoming interview but also helps you learn whether you would even want to work for them if an opportunity presented itself. It will also help you during the interview when you can engage in conversations regarding the company’s history and general motto.
Interview Tip #2: DRESS THE PART. There are plenty of online tutorials on how to dress professionally for a job interview. What I can add here, is that it’s nearly impossible to go wrong with a white collared shirt, black pants, and black shoes. This combination works for both male and female applicants, and across most industries. The caveat is that for certain positions a suit jacket should be added. The real key, though, is to make sure what you have is comfortable, fits properly, and doesn’t do anything funny when you sit down (a shirt that gapes between the buttons, pants that ride up too high when you cross your legs). Far more memorable than what color top you wore would be if your shoes squeaked when you walked. Make sure you have a well-planned interview outfit at the ready.
Interview Tip #3: PROVIDE A HARD COPY OF YOUR RESUME. We are living in a digital world, I know. However, it’s professional to take a hard copy of your resume and references to the interview. You can decide for yourself whether to present it to the interviewer at the beginning of the interview or wait until they ask you for it. That part is up to you, but have it with you if you want to come across sharp and prepared. A list of three personal and three professional references is suggested. Bonus points for a few letters of recommendation!
Interview Tip #4: NAIL THE INITIAL GREETING. You’ve heard a million times about things like a firm handshake and good eye contact, right? How about smiling though? It is more important than you think and conveys an attitude of confidence. Also, do not be afraid to make small talk with the receptionist, the guy that held the door for you, other employees you see passing through. Show that, if hired, you could easily fit into the current mix at the office. Side note: If you have sweaty hands, carry a handkerchief with you and hold it tightly until it’s time to shake the interviewer’s hand.
Interview Tip #5: ASK QUESTIONS. A lot of people are so nervous during the interview that they neglect to ask important questions regarding benefits, time off, when to expect a response after the interview, how many people the company is looking to hire, what opportunities exist for growth, and so on. A standard job interview always asks, “Do you have any questions?” Be prepared with a list you’ve compiled ahead of time in case nerves prevent you from thinking clearly enough to ask the important questions.
Interview Tip #6: BE CASUAL. One of the most common job interview mistakes is coming across as desperate, too nervous, or downright stiff. Depending on how badly you need the job, you might be feeling a lot of pressure. However, stressing out to the point of coming across as “weird” will not help your chances. Try to regulate your breathing, relax your shoulders, and keep the fidgeting to a minimum. Believe it or not, the interviewer is also nervous. Keep that in mind. Another thing to remember is that interviews are just part of the protocol. Equally important to skill level, is the ability to converse naturally with others, display a calm, collected attitude, and focus on the information you’re being given. Obviously, if you are applying to a tech job, you need to have a certain knowledge of computers, certain software programs, possibly coding, and more. But if there is a basic requirement or two that you lack, as long as you prove that you are focused, driven, and eager to learn new skills, your lack of experience will not be a deal-breaker. The key is to come across as a human, not a robot. Allow the interviewer to imagine working alongside of you in his or her daily routine.
Interview Tip #7: DO NOT EXAGGERATE YOUR SKILL LEVEL. As I mentioned in number 6, it is not the end of the world to answer “No” to a few questions about your experience. Most of the time, if you made it into the interview, your experience (resume) proved to the company that you are a strong contender. I emphatically advise against answering “Yes” to questions about how many languages you speak, how good you are at something specific, and so on. These are the types of responses that will absolutely come back to haunt you, I promise. It is OK to brag a little about your skills. We all live in the real world, so I know people embellish a little. Of course we all want to come across as competent and a cut above the competition. I get that. Just be careful how far you take that embellishment so you don’t wind up in a position you are not qualified for, or worse, get called out on it during the interview when your interviewer asks you a question in Mandarin since you put on your resume that you are fluent!
****A little secret (from this business owner): Interviews are standard because we want to put a face (or voice) to the name and skills on the resume. If we called you up, it was because we’re already interested. We want to know if you can speak in full sentences, interact in a professional environment, and quite frankly if you’re someone we want on board at our company. My point is, once you’re at the interview, we already like you. Your job is to not screw that up!