An interview with a potential employer can be a stressful experience for anyone looking for a new job. It’s important to leave a positive first impression, and sufficient preparation before the interview is key to making yourself stand out as a candidate.
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To help you succeed in your next interview, we sat down with our senior recruiter and put together a list of 12 tips every job seeker should follow:
Do your research
Take the time to research both the employer and the position that you’re applying to. Understand the organization, the job requirements, and the professional background of the people who will be interviewing you. Proper research will help you better understand the organization and the expectations of the role. It will also demonstrate your level of interest in the position to the interviewer.
Be ready to ask questions
Most job seekers tend to think it’s wrong to ask the interviewer questions. However, at the end of the interview, it’s your turn to lead the conversation. This is the perfect time to learn more about the position and your prospective employer. It’s also an opportunity to impress the interviewer.
Prepare some insightful questions from your research to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and deserve the opportunity to join the team.
Practice, practice, practice
The old adage “practice makes perfect” holds true for interviews. Research common interview questions and draft how you might respond to each one. Apart from making you look more prepared to the interviewer, rehearsing your answers will help calm your nerves. Pro Tip: Ask a friend to help you do a mock interview or practice your replies in front of a mirror.
Dress to impress
Your outfit is key to making a good first impression when you walk into the interview. Even if the company has a casual dress code, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. A suit can set you apart in the interview process, even if you won’t be wearing one day-to-day.
Bring printed copies of your resume and references
The interviewer may not have a copy of your resume or references on-hand during your meeting. Bring several copies, and make sure all the information is up-to-date. Printing your documents on resume paper isn’t necessary, but it can add a level of detail that will help you stand out.
Plan ahead and arrive early (but not too early)
Aim to get to the interview location about 10-15 minutes early. Give yourself adequate travel time and plan for possible traffic or public transit delays. If you’re driving, be sure to research parking options in advance. If you arrive sooner than expected, find a seat in the lobby or wait in your car until it’s time to check-in. In addition to minimizing stress, being early allows you time to collect your thoughts and organize your ideas before heading into the interview.
Highlight your successes and strengths
The company is looking for someone who can help it achieve its goals. Be sure to give specific examples that highlight your successes and strengths. One actionable result that you provide is worth more than several vague stories. Your past experience can be a strong indicator of your future performance.
Honesty is the best policy
Your goal in any interview should always be authenticity. Be honest when answering questions (an interviewer can usually tell if you’re lying). You should remain focused, confident, and candid.
Provide real-world examples
Avoid basing your answers on vague and theoretical explanations. Instead, focus on real-world scenarios. You want the employer to be able to visualize you in the role, performing tasks and pushing the company forward. Provide responses that showcase your experience and emphasize the skills that apply to the position.
Prepare to talk salary
Salary is a topic that will come up during the interview. Research typical compensation ranges for the employer and the industry and be ready to give your salary expectations. Play it cool if the salary is above your requirements. If the pay is lower than you thought it would be, politely inquire if there is any room for negotiation.
Communicate clearly and concisely
Use the limited time that you have with the interviewer effectively. Answer questions clearly and try to keep your responses short and to the point. When responding to questions about your previous roles, avoid speaking negatively about your former employers or co-workers. Additionally, avoid overthinking when answering questions. The key to success isn’t how long your responses are, but the quality of your answers.
Send a thank you note after the interview
Common politeness and courtesy go a long way with potential employers. The importance of acknowledging the interviewer can’t be overemphasized. Take a moment to write an email shortly after the interview thanking the interviewer for their time. A brief message of appreciation could give you an edge over other candidates who didn’t take the time to send a note.