7 Insider Interview Tips You Haven’t Heard Before
It’s a fact: interviews can be stressful. There are a million dos and don’ts out there, and it’s hard to decipher just how to ace that interview, and better yet, get a job offer. Whether you’re new to the job-searching scene, or are a seasoned interviewer, here are our top 7 tips—and all you need to know to get the job.
Tip 1: Be yourself What good is a great first impression if it’s not a true representation of what the company will be getting once you’re hired? It’s actually easier than you think—who knows you better than you do, after all? Be professional, courteous, and confident, but also let your true personality shine through—it’s ok to be personable, friendly, and even humorous.
Employers are looking for a particular skill set, of course; but they are also looking for someone who will get along well with current employees and fit in well with the team.
Tip 2: Have a conversation Your interviewer will likely provide you with a wealth of information—about the company, the position, and maybe even his or her background. Make sure you are really engaged in the conversation, and listen and respond accordingly. Draw in your own experiences as they relate to the topic at hand. It’s ok to have an actual conversation with your interviewer, rather than a question-and-answer session. No one wants to hold a one-sided conversation, especially for a discussion as important as an interview. Oftentimes, if you "click" with a prospective employer, he or she may be more willing to hire you over someone who may have higher qualifications.
Tip 3: Got a pen? So, you’ve done your research—about the company, your potential boss, the position (if you haven’t, you should). You may be mentally ready…but do not show up to your interview without a pen. This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people are unprepared and how this reflects on you. Bring a pen, pad of paper, and a few copies of your resume. Don’t show up chewing gum or with a cup of coffee in your hand, either. And please remember to turn off your cell phone or, better yet, leave it in the car so you’re not tempted to peek.
Tip 4: Don’t over-prepare This may sound like a contradiction to what you’ve heard before, and a slight contradiction to the previous tip. Of course it’s good to know how you’ll respond to common interview questions (i.e., "tell me about yourself"), and even practice some responses out loud. However, interviewers don’t necessarily want to hear you recite something you’ve rehearsed a million times. They may wonder whether you’re really listening to the questions, or ponder the validity of what you’re saying. You should be able to answer questions on the spot—employers want to see that you are confident, able to communicate effectively, and even how you perform under pressure. For this reason, they may throw you a few curveball questions, so just relax and refer to tip #1—be yourself. Also, be completely honest in your responses.
Tip 5: Dress for the job This day in age, companies are becoming more lax in terms of appropriate work attire. It’s not uncommon to walk into an office and see jeans and sneakers on associates, even on your potential boss. But for an interview, it is a must that you look put-together and professional. However, it is ok to add a bit of style and personality to your look, particularly if you are in a creative field—for example, a statement necklace or a cool top paired with your conservative blazer. Don’t wear anything too distracting—avoid orange according to a survey conducted by Career Builder—but a little added color or flare will make you stand out and be memorable.
Tip 6: You be the interviewer The question surely arises in every interview: "Do you have any questions for me?" And studies reveal that you do actually increase your chances of landing a job if you ask questions—it shows you care. But don’t just Google a list of questions you think your potential employer wants you to ask. Ask questions that you really want to know the answer to before making a 40-hour a week commitment. What is it that you want in a company—Do you need flexibility? What is your preferred management style? Do you thrive on long hours and overtime? What is the day-to-day like—always hustling or does the work ebb and flow? Why did the last person in this position leave (try to get a feel for any drama)? What are your deal-breakers? You need to know if this job is right for you, not just if you are right for the job. There is nothing worse than accepting a job, only to find out two months later, it’s not a good fit—that equals a lot of time wasted, for you and the company.
Tip 7: "Thank you" goes a long way If two candidates are equally qualified for a position, and made an equally good impression during the hiring process, whom will the employer choose to hire? The answer is: the candidate who sends a sincere thank-you note. Whether it’s an email or a hand-written letter, it is important to thank your interviewer for his or her time and consideration for the position. Also, reiterate your interest in the position and why you think you are a good fit. It always helps to reference something that was specifically discussed in the meeting too. Be sure to ask for a business card or get his or her contact information (even if you have to call the receptionist). If more than one person interviews you, thank them all separately. A good rule of thumb is to send something within 24 hours.
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