Interviews are among the most stressful parts of hunting for a new job. Depending on the job, interviews can take twenty minutes or span several days with multiple interviewers and an intensive screening process.
Preparing for an interview is a big part of the job hunting process. Someone can think they have everything covered, only to be thrown a curveball during the interview that leaves them speechless.
In this article, we will go over 10 tips to help you get through your next interview.
Get the Right Clothes
Money is tight, especially for someone looking for a job, but there’s a saying in business that you should dress for the job you want, not the one you have.
If you’re unemployed, you should consider getting at least one or two sets of clothes that are professional and presentable.
Showing up at a job interview in your lucky football jersey isn’t going to win you any points with the interviewer, unless they are extraordinarily enthusiastic of the particular team (like, to the extreme).
Get clothes that fit properly and don’t reveal too much skin.
For ladies, a professional skirt is absolutely fine, but keep it at or below knee length. Low-cut tops should be matched with a conservative tank top that covers cleavage.
Men should wear a button-up shirt if possible, matched with an undershirt if needed, and tucked in unless it’s cut specifically not to be tucked.
Ties and jackets are optional for many jobs these days, but should be worn if you are interviewing for a job and place where management wears ties.
Have Interview Clothes Ready to Go
We all have that one or two really nice sets of clothes that we wear to interviews and important/special events. Unfortunately, these clothes are rarely ready to go at a moment’s notice.
If you’re in the process of looking for a new job, you should have a clean, wrinkle-free set of professional attire at the ready should you receive a call for a last-minute interview.
This doesn’t mean you should carry them around with you when you go to the grocery store, but having them ready keeps you from scrambling if you are in a hurry.
Practice Answering Common Interview Questions
There are some questions that are commonly asked in interviews for just about any position. They are “get to know you” questions which, in theory, will help the interviewer get a better understanding of who you are and how you see your role as an employee.
These questions by themselves aren’t terribly difficult for most people to answer, but in the context of the interview, they can be pretty intimidating.
Here is a quick list of common questions:
- What are your weaknesses?
- Name a time when you have been challenged, and explain how you overcame that challenge.
- What are your career goals?
- What would your previous coworkers say about their experiences working with you?
- Why should we hire you?
Practice Your Skill, Even if You’re Unemployed
If you are interviewing for a skill-based job such as computer programming, be prepared to prove your skills in a written or computer-based test.
It’s very common for some jobs to test candidates either right before or during the interview to make sure they are hiring someone that knows what they’re doing.
Common tests given to Web developers is a challenge to create a simple webpage that has a specific feature, or to debug some buggy code.
Arriving late to an interview is one of the worst things you can do. It’s better to be 5–10 minutes early than 5–10 minutes late.
One good strategy would be to leave your home well before your interview and plan out something to do in the area to kill time, such as visit a nearby store or grab a coffee.
Research the Company
Take some time to learn about the company to which you are applying. This means getting a sense for what the company does, and what type of culture it works to cultivate among its employees.
You can learn a lot about a company through its website, and find some pretty helpful behind-the-scenes tips on sites like Glassdoor which hosts reviews of companies left by employees and interviewees.
Practice With a Friend
Practice interviews are great! They help you get over any anxiety you might be having about the process, present you with questions you might not have expected, and give you insight into how well you interview.
Find a friend that is honest, and preferably experienced with interviewing people. Tell them to do a practice interview with you (and don’t let them go easy on you). Their objective insights will prove invaluable to you when the real interview comes along.
Ask Good Questions
The questions the interviewer asks are only part of the actual interview. The questions asked by the person being interviewed are often equally important.
They give the interviewer an opportunity to get a sense for the interviewee’s interest in the position, and willingness to ask questions rather than just end things quickly.
Here are some good questions to ask the interviewer:
- What are the top priorities of the position?
- What are some of the challenges that come with the position?
- What are the qualities that the company looks for in an employee?
- What is the company culture like?
Get a Jump Start on the Position
This tip might not apply to every type of position out there, but for the ones it does, it is a huge plus for any interviewee.
Let’s say you’re applying for a job as a Web developer. You have some information through questions you’ve asked leading up to the interview that the position is open because the company needs a new website.
If you have the time, consider sketching some rough ideas or creating a mockup of how you would improve on the current website.
During the interview, you can explain that you took the initiative of creating this material after seeing what the company is working with right now, and present it.
Your ideas might not even be close to what management wants, but the initiative makes a big difference. You won’t be the applicant that had bad ideas (unless they really are bad). You will be the applicant that cared enough to do something.
Confidence is Key
Confidence in your qualifications and ability to do the job is what most interviers are looking for. They want to know that you’re able to hit the ground running with the position, and an applicant that is too timid or unsure of themselves does not instill the same confidence.
Practice interviewing into a mirror, or put your practice interviews on video and watch them. Think about things you can do to seem more confident in your answers, and practice them.
Part of having confidence is being comfortable in the position you’re in. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will be.
There is a fine line between confidence and bravado, though. Make sure you are staying on the right side of that line, and your interviewer will notice and appreciate it. If you’re looking for more tips, check out this checklist from GoodCall, it details steps to take before, during and after an important interview.