Maybe you’re new to interviewing, or maybe it’s just been awhile and your confidence needs a boost. Let me spare you the stress of worrying about the unknown and give you 10 tips to have you walking out of that interview room like a boss.
Don’t be scared to chit-chat.
One of an interviewer’s biggest fears is a quiet, minimally-worded candidate. Sure, we’ve got our list of questions for you. But if you respond with one sentence answers, and we have 45 minutes slotted for you, we’re going to have some seriously awkward, uncomfortable silence on our hands. In that case, you won’t be remembered very well. So erase the notion that you’re the little pea who’s sitting across from a total king. Of course, show your full respect to your interviewer, but realize that at the end of the day you are just two people. So give yourself some credit and wipe that reason for anxiety off your chest.
On that note, play yourself up, but don’t be cocky.
One of the most common things I see are interview candidates who shy away from showcasing their experiences because they don’t think they’re worth enough for the job at hand. You got a seat at the table for a reason, honey. We know you have potential, so showcase it for us! Prep for this by listing out the main responsibilities and accomplishments you’ve achieved in your previous jobs, no matter what capacity or how silly you think they were. Then, group this list into common experience categories. Examples could include teamwork, leadership, public speaking, disagreeing with someone, you get the point. Now when your interviewer asks you, “Tell me about a time when…” you’re ready to respond. And don’t forget to be enthusiastic. You should be proud of who you are and what you’ve achieved.
Here’s what the cliché “We just want to see how well you can handle a difficult situation” really means.
Basically what we’re trying to say here is that the way you formulate your response holds just as much weight, if not more, than the actual content of your response. We know you’re not going to know everything. You’re interviewing for a (key word) NEW job, so we’re well aware that hiring you comes with a learning curve. The key to your response is to keep smiling, keep showing confidence, and find the right words to say so that when you don’t have the technical answer to the question, you simply portray how eager you are to learn it. Which brings me to my next point…
Be enchanting. Your actions are 100% contagious. If you go in with uncertainty or uneasiness, which trust me is common, the interviewer will sense this and naturally display the same feelings back to you. This also applies to phone interviews. Smiles can, without a doubt, be heard over the phone so make sure you smile at all times. This is HUGE and will be THE #1 saving grace for you if you bomb everything else.
5. Offer your faults, strategically.
So many people dread the cliché interview question, “so what are your strengths and weaknesses?” Here’s how you master this question. First, put yourself in your interviewer’s shoes. What strengths do you think they’re looking for in a candidate, and what weaknesses do you think they would be happy to help develop you through? Then, think about where you fit into this equation. Play up your strengths that you’d think they’d love, then offer your weaknesses in a positive, forward-thinking way. For example, let’s say you despise working in teams but you know this job requires it. You could say something like, “I’m really good at being self-sufficient so I’d love the opportunity to participate in some group projects where I can develop my teamwork skills.” Wording it like this shows you a) can acknowledge where you need work and b) are eager to improve yourself. Both of these are wonderful traits to have.
6. Learn self-awareness.
Probably one of the biggest lessons you’ll learn the hard way in the real world is the concept of awareness, both of others and of yourself. Self-awareness is being conscious of your own character and how others might be perceiving it. (Warning – the results might be very different than what you think). Awareness of others requires being able to step out of your shoes for a moment to best identify and relate to what others are feeling. This is extremely difficult for people to do. So if you really want to stand out from the crowd, make sure your verbal and nonverbal responses show the interviewer you understand it takes at least two (not just you) to tango in business, and that you can be trusted to be able to read people and react accordingly.
7. Show me how bad you want the job – do your research.
If you really want to work for this company then you need to know its ins and outs. Read the company’s entire website. Search recent press so you’re up to speed on the company’s current strategies, industry, and key competitors. This will give you a ton of fuel come that time your interviewer says, “so what questions do you have for me?”
8. Proofread your resume. Then proofread it again.
Your resume is the biggest piece of ammo you have to attract people to you, so make sure it reflects you in the best light possible. For starters, there should be no spelling or grammar errors. Next, it should be formatted in a visually grabbing way. Google examples for your industry. Also, bring copies to your interview. You could end up with the virgin interviewer who didn’t quite think that part out yet.
9. Email a thank-you note.
Sigh…a common courtesy that unfortunately is slipping through the cracks. Please, I beg you, send a thank you email to everyone who interviewed you. It shows us you’re appreciative of our time and you really want this job. Keep it short and sweet, but try not to be too generic. Throw in a line or two that’s personalized to the interview to leave us with a good memory of our time spent with you. All things equal between two candidates, the one who sends the thank-you note wins.
10. Look good.
Look like you put a solid effort into getting sleep the night before and ensuring your clothes look as crisp as they possibly can. Be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Our assumption is that this is the best you will ever look should we hire you, so make it count.
Simple Conclusion: Be poised. Be prepared. Be confident. But above all things, be full of smiles.
Got more tips for our interview candidates out there? We’d love to hear them, so please share below!