So you are in the market perusing the next step of your career, or perhaps your first job out of college. After months of applying with no luck, you finally get a call from a company and set up an interview for next Tuesday at 10 AM. now what? Below is a list of tips that if followed will increase your odds dramatically at nailing the interview and getting the job.
Do in depth research on the company you are going to be interviewing with.
IN DEPTH! do not go to their website scan the home page and leave. Instead browse their entire website, page by page. Take written notes on anything that stands out as a key point, anything that you come across that you are curious about, and best of all if you can find a spelling or grammatical error take a specific note on what page and paragraph the error is contained on. By the end of your research you should know when the company was started and by whom, you should know their target audience, and how they reach them. You should know what their mission statement is and the things they do to attract and retain great employees. During your interview you are going to open up your notes in front of the interviewer, trust me they will be impressed that you did your research on the company and it will show them that you are very interested in the position. You will try to refer back to what you discovered during your research (I will give more specifics on this later) as the interview progresses.
Wake up early, do something different and dress for success.
So yes we all know we should not wear board shorts and flip flops to an interview, but pick out your best outfit two to three days before the interview. Try it on, make sure it fits right, make sure you have shoes and a belt to match and make a complete outfit. Once you have it selected, make sure its cleaned and pressed and ready to go for the big day. On the day of your interview wake up early, I don’t mean with just a little more time than needed to get that outfit on and run out the door. Get up earlier than you normally do and go for a 5 mile run, attend a cross fit class or head to the gym, whatever you choose make sure its something that you do not do everyday (if you wake up and go the the gym every morning then you are going to have to get creative, do your normal gym routine then run for 3 miles). Two reasons, one working out is proven to release endorphins which make you feel better about yourself. Second when you walk into your interview with your freshly pressed outfit on, you are going to be greeted with a hand shake and a “how are you doing”. Your reply should be something along the lines of “I am doing great, I decided to wake up early and go for a 5 mile run this morning before I came here.” This will shock your interviewer as 99.9% of people will reply, “I am good, how about you” also by letting them know you did something else besides wake up and head to the interview it makes you more interesting, shows them that you have more going on in life and will make you more memorable than others.
Remember this is not a one way street, you are interviewing them too.
Most people go into an interview nervous, worried about what the potential employer will think of them. Well just as the employer is looking at multiple candidates, you should be looking at multiple employers. If you are not it’s okay to pretend for just a minute that you are and that you have been on an interview or two in the last week. You should compile a list of questions before the interview, write them down or you can even type them out. Leave space for yourself to jot down a few notes if needed under each question. Here is where you get to refer back to your research you did on the company. In stating one or two of these questions make sure to refer to the fact that you went through their whole website, or I saw “insert what you read here” on your website which made me wonder “insert question here”. Now remember never ask about pay, benefits, or how much time you will get off for vacation as one of these questions. When the time is right they will ask you what your salary requirements are or they will state the pay scale and start the benefit conversation. It is then okay to ask about benefits, bonus structures, and other compensations related questions. Remember to ask your employee about the future of the position and the company, no one wants to hire a short term thinker. Most importantly with questioning ask what is important to you, if you are just making up questions because you read this article it will show. Come up with 4-5 really good questions you want answers to. When you get a response, listen, take notes on the answer if needed, and remember this is your chance to make sure you are making the right career decision!
Practice interviewing yourself and come prepared
It is a given that nobody knows you more than yourself, so why do you need to interview yourself before you go interview? Well you are not exactly interviewing yourself, but you want to run through some questions that will typically come up in an interview. Make sure you have some good answers to these common questions, and recall some personal success stories from your past experiences. The more interviews you go on the more you will realize that the same kinds of questions come up over and over again, just stated in a different way. You will also realize with a bit of creativity, that you can use the same story to respond to many of these common questions. (of course don’t use the same story twice in one interview) So what are these questions you will be asked, of course no one really knows for sure. However you should know your potential employer will ask you about your past job history, be sure you have studied your resume. Bring several copies of your resume with you, one for each person on the other side of the table and an extra copy for you. The more experience you have the fuzzier you will be on the exact dates you were with a certain organization. The interviewer will probably ask you what makes you interested in the position in which you have applied and they will probably also ask where you see yourself in the future. The one question that everyone seems to get caught off by is the question containing a negative statement such as “What is the one thing your past employer would say needs improvement?” These type of questions can be tricky and you can see why. Here is where its okay to sugar coat things a little. You never want to divulge a truly terrible trait should you have one, as you will never get hired if you tell them something like “I am always late, and hate working with others.” Come up with something that is not a big deal, or incorporate a positive into your answer such as “I often take on too much work as I have a hard time saying no to helping others, but this leads to me being exhausted by the end of the week”. The more questions you rehearse and the more stories from your past you perfect telling before you interview the better off you will be.
When the interview is over find out how you did and what is next
You might be asking so how do I find out how I did, won’t I know that by if I get the job or not? Well wouldn’t you rather feel the interviewer out in person and get a commitment as to what is next? You interviewer will more than likely end with something like “well I think we have gone over everything I wanted to cover, did you have any additional questions?” Feel free to insert any questions you wanted to cover and did not yet get answers to, then ask them something like “How do you feel I did in the interview, and what is the next step?” Chances are the person will never tell you that you did terrible even if you did, however their answer to the second part of the above question can be very telling. If they are interested in you as a potential hire after the interview is done they will give you a specific answer like “we have one more candidate that is coming in this afternoon, but we will be getting back to you one way or the other by Friday morning. The more broad or indecisive they answer the chances of you getting hired are shrinking. No matter how they answer ask each person you interviewed with for a business card, as you want to always follow up your interview the following morning with an email or call, reinstating your interest in the position and thanking them for their time and consideration.
I can tell you from personal experience after many many interviews over the years, that making it to the interview is the hardest part. Once you have been called into interview you have been selected based on matching the requirements for the position, and they liked something they saw on your resume and heard from you on the initial call which led to the interview. So remember you deserve to be there. If you follow the above tips, show up with confidence and express to the interviewer your passion for starting a career with their company, the chances of acing an interview will be in your favor. Good Luck!
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