How to Shine: Interviewing Skills To Help You Earn That Dream Job
Last summer when my company was hiring a new junior employee, my manager came to me and asked whether I would be willing to conduct my own interview with each candidate. Not only was I extremely flattered, but also, excited for the opportunity. Being on the other side of the interview, I learned a lot about what can make an interview great.
So without further adieu, here are some helpful hints to help you nail your next interview.
Before the Interview
1.) The interviewer is already impressed with your résumé.
Chances are the employer has already seen your résumé, and has already deemed you qualified. Interviews are tedious. Résumés are about qualifications; interviews are about finding the right fit. So, demonstrate how you’ll be a good fit for the company. Are you a team player? Do you need minimal instruction? What can you bring to the company outside of your qualifications?
2.) Do your homework.
In the days leading up to the interview, Google everything you can about the company. Immerse yourself in the company’s website and social media. Scour the Internet, not only for articles about your potential employer, but also about the industry. Draft questions and be prepared to discuss the company’s current projects.
3.) Be ready to discuss anything on your résumé, and I mean anything.
You never know what an interviewer will zero in on your resume, whether it be a specific project you worked on, your undergraduate education, a language you claim to be fluent in, or the fact that you love to knit. Your cover letter and your résumé may be the only two things the interviewer knows about you, so expect a lot of questions about them.
4.) Practice, practice, practice…and aloud.
Have a friend mock interview you. Rehearsing is the best way to succeed. The answers you have prepared in your head will always sound differently when spoken out loud.
5.) Scope out the location.
Nothing ruins the initial tone of an interview more than tardiness. So, make sure you know exactly when and where the interview is and how to get there.
6.) Be conservative in dress.
You never know what will offend someone; so, even if the company has a reputation for being laid-back, make sure to dress to impress. This means wrinkle-free, clean and most likely a suit.
During the interview
7.) Ask, ask, ask.
Not only does asking questions make you sound interested in the position, but if you do end up receiving the position, this could be where you spend 40 plus hours a week. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into, if you accept the position.
It’s safer to be overly respectful, even if the interviewer seems very casual in manner. Never use their first name, unless they give you permission and the very last words out of your mouth should be, “Thank you.”
9.) But, don’t be afraid to show your personality.
There was one woman I interviewed that came across as so dull, I couldn’t imagine working with her day in and day out, despite how qualified she was. I asked about her hobbies, she claimed to not have time. I tried to make a joke, and no response. Please do not be so caught up in your professionalism that you forget you’re a human being. Passion is attractive; staleness is not.
After the interview
10.) Always, always, follow up.
Even if your interview goes absolutely stellar and you are convinced the job is yours to lose, follow up! Nothing says, “I’m not interested,” more than dropping the line of communication. In this day in age, an email is absolutely appropriate, although never underestimate the power of a thoughtful handwritten note.
Remember, the interview isn’t just about whether you are a good fit for the company, but also about whether the company is a good fit for you. I’ve had so many friends who jumped at the first job offer they received because they were worried another offer wouldn’t come along. Give yourself more credit than that. If the job looks like something you’d absolutely dread doing, send a thoughtful note stating that you appreciate the opportunity to interview, but unfortunately will be unable to take the job.
At this point, you have done all you can. You have sent in a killer resume, nailed your interview, and sent in a modest, but heartfelt thank you letter, now take a well-needed break, before you jump in the mix of things again.
Alexandra Gilliland is an environmental urbanite with a love for warm beverages and long city walks.