I’ve been through more interviews than I care to count–all across the spectrum. I’ve done professional day-long interviews which entailed me teaching a class and meeting with everyone in the department; I’ve done informal interviews where I was not expected to dress up because the jobs were not ones that required any kind of business attire. I’ve also been the interviewer now which has given me a perspective broad enough to say that if you follow the tips below you will be a stellar interviewee, a breath of fresh air to potential employers, and highly marketable.
1. Dress To Impress.
It’s definitely shallow to judge people based on their appearance, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. Furthermore, an interview is a time when your interview is assessing not just whether you can do the job (if they asked you for an interview, they feel like you can do the job already), but whether you present yourself well and whether you will fit in with the company. So do yourself a favor, cut out some of the guesswork for the interviewer, and put your best face forward. You don’t have to wear make-up or heels, but make sure your clothes are clean and un-rumpled and that you’re well-groomed. If you look like you don’t take the interview seriously you can be certain they interviewer won’t take you seriously in return. About.com has a lot of helpful information about what is considered interview-appropriate attire for different types of positions.
2. Prepare And Prepare Again.
Research the company, the position, and the employees. Have questions prepared in advance so you’re not sitting in awkward silence with your gears spinning while the interviewer waits for you to come up with questions. Also think of questions the interviewer may ask you and prepare answers for those. Some common interview questions are as follows:
Why do you want this job?
What makes you want to work for this company?
Why do you have gaps in your employment history?
What is your experience related to this position?
How can you make up for any lack of work experience you may have?
Explain a difficult project you worked on as if you’re explaining it to someone with no experience in it.
Explain the skills listed on your resume in greater detail.
3. Arrive Early, Not On Time.
You looked on Google Maps and know exactly where the place is, except, oops, there’s construction and a detour and a traffic jam and now you’re 10 minutes late. So much time and effort goes into getting folks as far as an on-site interview and normally many people at a company will need to make some time to speak with you. It’s better to wait in the lobby for 30 minutes before your interview than arrive 5 minutes late. That way everyone will know you value their time, you look professional and prepared, and your interviewer will be really happy with you!
4. Let Your Personality, Not Your Flare, Shine.
You’re a super cool person with awesome interests. We know this, but you don’t need to demonstrate that through your accessories. Yes, it’s great to look stylish and have a nice, fashionable interview outfit, great shoes, and hip glasses! No, it’s not a good idea to walk in with a portfolio covered in stickers or have your piercings on display, other than on the ears. The reason for this is that you don’t really know what kind of person your interviewer is or even other folks at the company who have a hand in the hiring decision. Wait to bust out your flare until you have the job and rely on your sparkling personality and professional demeanor to get you there. You can be the office Trekkie once you get hired, but feel the place out first!
5. Keep It Above Board, Always.
It’s great to be in an interview where the interviewer puts you at ease with humor and friendly conversation. That means you can relax a little, but be careful! You never want to veer into unprofessional territory. Don’t swear even if your interviewer does (which should probably set off some alarms anyway), don’t insult your previous employers, and avoid any controversial issues unless explicitly required for the job (i.e. if you’re interviewing to work for a political campaign or a religious group). You can still be you without any of that stuff (at least, to an extent) and avoid offending anyone or burning any bridges.
Peaceful dumplings who have been through the interview process from either side, what are your favorite tips for a successful interview? Do you have any horror stories? Let us know in the comments!
Also see: Should You Learn to Speak Up At Work?
Also by Samantha: Easy Homemade Fridge Pickles