Congratulations! You have been called for an interview. How can you make sure that you make the best impression possible?
And what things should you NEVER do during your interview? Here are some tips that I have compiled from various articles and HR discussion board for how to Ace Your Interview:
Research the company BEFORE you go. Potential employers are impressed when you know something about the company. In general, it shows that you prepare for any task (a definite point in your favor). It also shows the hiring manager that you are truly interested in working for the company. Some ways you can research companies:
- Most companies have a website that can supply you with a lot of valuable information. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of what the company does. Find out what their mission is, who their customers are, and what products or services they supply.
- Check to see how the company’s stock is performing. You can get this information from almost any financial website, and most print newspapers have a financial section, too.
- Ask your friends and family if they know anyone who works for the company. An inside contact can give you a great deal of insight into the corporate culture and give you a heads up about the interview process they use.
Prepare yourself for common interview questions. Many books and online articles offer common questions and acceptable responses. For example, be ready to answer questions about your strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, be ready to explain how your past jobs and experiences make you ideal for the position, as that is what the interview is all about! You may want to practice your answers with a mentor or friend, or you could videotape your responses and watch yourself. Try to find someone who has some professional interviewing experience and have him or her honestly critique your performance.
Work on what your body is saying, too. Practice using good posture, work on your body movements and try to avoid nervous habits like tapping your pen or shaking your foot. Body language can tell a potential employer a lot about you! It can say “I’m cool and confident under pressure,” or “I’m not sure I can do this job.” Make sure it says what you want it to say!
Dress appropriately for the interview. Choose your clothing and accessories very carefully. Most people wear suits to an interview, but sometimes casual dress clothes are acceptable. Your company research can help you decide how formally you need to dress. Regardless of what style of clothes you decide to wear, make sure everything is clean and neatly pressed. If you need a haircut, get one. Pay attention to the details. Are your nails clean and trimmed? Taking the time to think about all of these things well before the interview will take some of the stress off the day of the interview – and show your future employer that you take pride in yourself (another point in your favor).
Be on time. Make sure you know where to go and how much time it takes to get there. If you have to travel during rush hour, factor time in for a traffic jam. Getting lost on your way to an important interview can leave you feeling stressed and unprepared. Consider driving there the day before so you absolutely know where you are going. This can help you be punctual (another point in your favor) because you NEVER want to show up late for an interview.
Better yet, be 10 minutes early! You may have some paperwork to fill out before the interview. Allow plenty of time to get there so you don’t appear rushed or flustered. Be careful not to arrive too early. This can annoy people at the office who are on a tight schedule. Take along some reading material to pass the time in the event that you have to wait. A newspaper or trade publication shows that you are up on current events and industry news.
Take all the necessary paperwork with you. NEVER arrive empty handed. Bring extra copies of your resume on quality paper, a pen, and something to write on. A daily planner looks professional, as well. Consider bringing a portfolio of your work. This can contain anything from writing samples to your file management system. If you have a list of references, bring it along. If you will be required to fill out an application, you may need past addresses or previous dates of employment.
Be polite and courteous to everyone. Greet the secretary or receptionist with a smile and a handshake. If you are rude to the front desk person, the person doing the hiring will likely hear about it. Smile and shake hands with everyone in your interview. Address them as Mr. or Ms. unless asked to do otherwise. If you see other workers there, smile and say hello. They may just be your co-workers soon!
Make eye contact. Looking at the floor or around the room makes you appear bored or dishonest.
Answer all questions honestly and thoroughly. Try to use positive language, even when discussing past challenges. NEVER speak negatively about past employers or supervisors. It is okay to say you don’t know an answer, but offer an explanation about how you would go about finding an answer. This can show that you are resourceful.
When the interview is over, shake everyone’s hand and thank them for their time. This shows that you care about them and their productivity, which is a definite point in your favor.
Verify the spelling of everyone’s name. Ask the receptionist if you don’t have this information. You’ll need it to send a thank you letter to everyone in the interview. Taking time to do this one small thing shows that you are conscientious and care about your co-workers.