Finding a job is hard. Which is probably the understatement of the century. There is a lot that goes into the job search and job interview. From a perfect resume to market trends, the pursuit of the highly sought after job offer can often drive people nuts.
There are many do’s and don’t to the other elements of job hunting, such as the many different ways to create the resume, the resources available in job hunting, be it online sites of recruitment firms. However, one element of the process is pretty straight forward and has some very basic rules that ensure success. I’m referring to the Job Interview.
The penultimate stage of the job search that is your last chance to land that job that will make all of life’s problems go away. But by this time, most people are so frazzled and frantic, that often mistakes are made that lead to never quite landing that job. And more often than not, we’re not sure what mistakes we made, so chances of course correcting, or learning from those mistakes, are slim to none. But these basic rules, mostly based on common sense, can ensure that the job interview is a smash hit, getting you that elusive job offer.
Here are 13 ways that you can nail your next job interview!
1. Do Your Research
You’ve applied for a job, possibly countless jobs, and one has finally gotten back to you. It’s and exciting, while being a completely nerve wracking event at the same time. One way to get over that anxiety, is to do your research. Look into the company that you will be interviewing with. Find out the company’s mission statement, their culture and their standing in their specific industry. Doing so will make you realize their priorities, and most importantly, how you can contribute to such an organization with your skill set in your applied role. Doing research before an interview also ensures that you are not walking in blind, but with valuable knowledge about the company that may come in use during the job interview; impressing upon the interviewer that you care enough about the job to find out about the company beforehand.
2. Dress To Impress
While dressing well helps someone with their own sense of worth and self esteem, it’s definitely a building block to creating a great impression during a job interview. The old adage is that ‘does for the job you want, and not the one you have’, but regardless of the job you are interviewing for, outward appearance is a factor. Not only does dressing to impress during an interview make you come off more elegant and professional, it also implies a sense of pride that interviewers can see carrying over into one’s professional work ethic as well. It’s also the first thing that a potential employer physically sees of you, after your resume.
3. Timing Is Everything
Punctuality is something that is a standard concept of having respectful interactions with society at large. It’s a sign of respecting someone else’ priorities and time. So when it comes to finding a job and impressing yourself upon them, first things first: show up early. While being on time is a great quality, arriving to a job interview a little before the given time conveys an attitude of taking things seriously. It’s the perfect amount of being excited, without seeming over eager. It lets your potential employer know that you’re taking this seriously and that you respect their time and consideration. Also arriving early lets others know that you have great time management, as you managed to show up to a new place on time, despite the usual unpredictable variable of traffic conditions.
4. Be Polite
Now you’re finally there, in that room, with the people that will be decide your future employment, so make sure you are polite and courteous. While this may seem like obvious advise, nervous-ness often gets the better of many people, causing them to unintentionally come as rude or impolite. Thank your interviewer in the beginning for the opportunity right off the bat. Break the ice with gratitude and set the tone for the interview. Get the first word, and open the conversation so that you empower yourself for the conversation that follows.
5. Be Yourself
Many people think that they need to suppress their ‘true’ personalities in exchange for a more professional and somber version. When the truth is, that when people pretend to be someone they’re not, it comes across in a very obvious way, even to people who may not know you at all. Picking up on insincerity is something that most Interviewers do instinctively. So just try to be yourself. Of course, this doesn’t mean be how you are with your friends or family during the weekend, high fiving your way into the job interview. But rather, lean into the better aspects of your own personality that you are comfortable with, and you will be more comfortable in answering questions and discussing your employment history and skills.
6. Actions Speak Louder Than Words
A major part of being comfortable during a job interview, and seeming confident, is your body language. Don’t slouch. Sit up straight. Be aware of the placement of your arms and feet. These are all elements that play into how confident you are as a person, and how you depict yourself in a professional environment. Slouching conveys an air of sloppiness and careless-ness. Leaning back in your seat gives off a very slacker or indifferent kind of vibe. Crossing your arms across your chest comes off almost confrontational or aggressive. When you carry yourself in a physical demeanor that allows others to know that you are confident in your abilities and your own talents, they are also more likely to invest in your skills as well.
7. Eye Contact Is Key
When you’re finally in the thick of the conversation, in the middle of the interview, another element that plays in your confidence, is making eye contact. When giving responses and answering questions, ensure that you are connecting and making eye contact with everyone in the room. Doing this shows that you are holding their attention, speaking to them directly. Looking away or averting your gaze conveys a sense of uncertainty in you that you don’t want interviewers picking up on. Public speaking is an accepted form of fear that is commonly acknowledged as being an act that takes skill and effort. Therefore, being able to hold your interviewers’ interest and letting them know that you do not shy away from expressing yourself in an unfamiliar situation, makes you an appealing candidate for any position. Also conveys leadership skills.
8. Avoid Trash Talking
When discussing your former employees and previous positions, be very careful not to air out dirty laundry or prior resentment on former employers, in front of your potential new employers. It’s natural to harbor complaints and unresolved issues from previous work experiences, however the most inappropriate time to discuss or vent those issues, are at an interview for a potential future job. At the same time, do not lie. When directly asked, express your professional issues with your employers, but do so from a place of providing professional feedback, than from a place of emotional resentment. Complaining about your issues at past jobs, will unintentionally convey to the interviewer the sort of pettiness and passive aggressive qualities about yourself that you want to avoid impressing in any professional environment.
9. Be Inquisitive
The best interviews are the ones that are a give and take of thoughts, ideas, and in many ways, like a first date. It’s a situation where both parties involved, the candidate and the interviewers, are trying to get a feel for the other person, to determine if they are a fit for one another. Therefore, it’s crucial to be just as inquisitive about the position, the responsibilities attached to the role, the company and other job specifics, as they are about your experience. Ask questions. Find out what would be expected of you in the role. This lets the interviewer know that you are a discerning individual who is genuinely interested in this specific position. Instead of someone who is just telling them what they want to hear in order to get a job, any job. The type of questions you ask also let the interviewer figure out your understanding of the job, and get a brief glimpse on your abilities to handle it.
10. Connect The Job Requirements To Your Own Personality
While most interviewers will specifically ask how or why you are suited for the job, make it a part of your own job interview conversation even if they do not. When discussing your previous experience, automatically connect to how skills learned in that position can apply to the one you are interviewing for. Let the interviewer know how you have accumulated experience, knowledge and skills in each position that relate to the job you have applied for. At the same time, remember to avoid things you dislike, that also connect to the applied position. For instance: avoid mentioning your dislike of being on the phone, if you’ve applied for a telemarketing position.
11. The ‘Biggest Weakness’ Question
As part of the standard interview questions, the biggest one that seems to stump most candidates is ‘what is your biggest weakness’. You too may struggle with wondering how to come up with an answer that makes you look good, while still being an actual weakness that doesn’t take away from your abilities to perform the job applied for. The mistake most people make is giving completely fake and disingenuous answers similar to ‘I work too hard’, or ‘I’m a workaholic’. Answers they think that interviewers want to hear. When in reality, the purpose of that question is to determine a candidates self awareness, being able to analyze oneself in order to improve themselves. Therefore don’t be shy to discuss something that was a challenge for you in a particular previous role, that you overcame. Something that was difficult for you to learn, tough to handle, but you managed to spend extra time to learn it, or found innovative ways to deal with it, and now you are an expert at that particular thing. Knowing a candidate is self aware enough to course correct their own behavior is a highly admirable trait for employers.
12. Connect With Your Interviewer
The intimidation and nervous-ness during an interview also makes some candidates forget that the person sitting across them is human too. That the interviewers also have their own lives and personalities. If the opportunity arises, don’t be afraid to relate or connect to them on a more human level. Don’t feel afraid to discuss some personal details about your family life, personal anecdotes, kids’ antics, and so on, with them. While I don’t mean open the interview by prying into your interviewer’s personal life, if the conversation organically allows those discussions, do not shy away from them. It may make you connect and show them your personality and ability to connect to your potential coworkers.
13. Whatever Happens, Follow Up!
Quite possibly the biggest mistake most candidates make, is not following up with potential employers after the interview. If the job you have applied for involves outside sales, or corresponding with clients on a regular basis, some employers await to hear back from a candidate to determine their follow up skills. Getting back to the interviewer after the interview in order to thank them for the opportunity, conveys a sense of responsibility and professional courtesy that may at times be the thing that puts you ahead of the other candidates.