First and Foremost: Be Prepared
- Know Your Resume: Before going into an interview, be sure to re-familiarize yourself with your past employers, roles, technologies and dates of employment. Managers will ask about all sorts of details found within your resume and if you are unable to provide details or recall items it may disqualify you in the eyes of a potential employer.
- Know the Job: Reading up on the job description that you are interviewing for can help you prepare for any potential interview questions and enable you to have the answers before they’re asked.
- Do Your Research: Familiarize yourself with a potential employer and their organization. Utilize Linked-In and the employer’s website to read up and learn as much as you can prior to meeting with anyone. A few minutes spent doing your research will show the interviewer that you are a well-prepared candidate.
- Know Your Technologies: If a position requires knowledge of a certain technology, be prepared to answer questions in regards to your experience with that technology. If you haven’t used it in recent years, take the time to review technical documentation, study guides, online interview questions or technical assessments before the interview.
- Prepare Your Answers in Advance: Interviews can be stressful in themselves, and therefore can cause issues when trying to recall specific situations and instances on demand. It can be helpful to recall 4 to 5 specific situations where you responsible for a favorable outcome. Make sure to find situations that highlight your teamwork, communication skills, determination, ethics or ability to manage others. Having these on hand will help you to quickly answer all types of behavioral questions.
- Ask Questions: At the end of an interview when you are asked if you have any questions, make sure to have some! Even if you’ve had a thorough interviewer who may have answered all of your questions, try asking “What makes a successful employee at your organization?” or “What are your company’s or group’s goals?” can go a long way in showing your interest in the position.
- Lay It Out: Don’t forget your best suit, pressed and ready to go. Print out a few resumes even if the employer already has a copy, and include a list of references in case they are requested. Print directions out ahead of time and bring a notepad and pen.
On the Interview
- Be on Time: It can sometimes be just as bad to be super early as it can to be a few minutes late. If you are more than 10 minutes early for an interview, find a coffee shop nearby to kill some time. Give yourself some extra time to arrive at your destination to account for traffic or unknown situations. If you think you may be even 1 minute late, telephone the person you are scheduled to interview with.
- Look your Best: Make sure you take the time to look the part. Always wear a suit unless otherwise instructed. Make sure your clothing is clean, neatly pressed, shoes polished, pressed shirt, etc. The better you look the more confident you’ll feel.
- Have a Great Handshake: Multiple studies have been done on how a handshake makes an instant first impression. A limp handshake can show disinterest and weakness. However, the arm pump handshake can be too aggressive. Your hand shake should be firm, and you should make eye contact during the introduction/handshake.
- Be Enthusiastic and Positive: Always try to mirror the demeanor of the person with whom you are interviewing and display enthusiasm for the opportunity. Stay positive throughout the interview; do not speak negatively about your previous employers or positions.
- Listen: When you maintain eye contact it shows confidence and interest in what the speaker is saying. Listen through eye contact and expressions. Always wait until the speaker has finished; never interrupt.
- Sell Yourself: An interview is not the time to be modest. Tell the interviewer what you can offer specifically and emphasize what you can bring to the company that others can’t.
- Give Direct Answers: Answer questions directly and come prepared with clear, well thought out answers about your experience. Make sure not to drone on or get off topic.
- Turn Off Your Cell: Keeping your cell phone on during an interview can show your potential employer how seriously you are taking the interview. You don’t want interruptions or distractions.