Focusing on how to ace a job interview.
I’m going to be giving you 10 tips that you can use to make sure that you’re on the hiring manager’s short list by the time you walk out of the interview room.
First up on our list is to do practice interviews.
You actually have a lot of opportunity to do these. When I was a college student, throughout my four years, every single year when the career fair would roll into town, there would be actual recruiters that would come to the Career Center and offer up their time to do practice interviews with any student that signed up for one.
Now, these interviews weren’t real interviews, but they were real conversations with people who were hiring managers or HR people at companies who were going to be at the career fair.
So in addition to being good practice for future real interviews, they were actually good networking experience with people who might be making decisions in the future. But the main benefit of these types of interviews is that they are great practice for the real thing, because an interview is inherently a nerve-wracking experience. So if you have some time to go in and do practice interviews where the stakes aren’t so high, you’re going to be able to come into the real thing with a lot more confidence and a lot more polish.
Tip number two is to be as friendly and engaged as you can with everyone that you interact at the company.
Now, I don’t think people are going into companies and being downright rude to the secretary or telling people that they don’t want to talk to them, but a lot of students will go into a company, and if there’s a little bit of time to wait before the interview, they’ll just kind of sit in the waiting room and stare at their phones.
I can tell you from experience, that people who aren’t the hiring manager still do observe the behavior of potential candidates, and then they talk to those hiring managers. In a lot of companies, the hiring decisions don’t come down to just the people that you interview with. A lot of the times they’re going to ask anybody who talked to the potential candidate if they have any objections.
So if you come into a company and you have a few minutes before the interview, spend some time talking to the person at the front desk. Or if they’re busy, at least be really polite, greet them, ask how their day is going, and then sit down and do your waiting. Also, don’t walk into the building wearing headphones. Just don’t.
Tip number three on our list, come prepared with questions for your interviewer.
Now, you might think that an interview is just a situation where you’re supposed to answer the interviewer’s questions because they’re figuring out if you’re the best candidate for the job. But don’t forget that you’re trying to figure out if the job is right for you as well. Additionally, coming to the interview prepared with your own questions tells the interviewer that you are engaged, you’re interested in the position, and that you put in a little bit of preparation.
While you might think that having no questions makes you seem like you know everything, and maybe that’s a good thing, what it actually does is it makes the interviewer wonder if you’re apathetic about the position, and if maybe you’re just doing it for the money. One question you should definitely keep in your back pocket is, what opportunities for advancement or additional duties am I going to have at this company?
The great thing about this kind of a question is it tells your interviewer that you are willing to be adaptable and flexible and you’re willing to learn new things, and that is a great quality to have in somebody that you are employing if you’re a business owner.
Tip number four is to research the company before you walk into that interview room.
Once again, this shows a level of preparation and dedication that a lot of other candidates aren’t going to have, and it’s going to help you stand apart. Now, I know what you’re thinking.
What kind of research am I supposed to do?
Well, you can do a little bit of preliminary research on the history of the company and its business, what you really want to understand what the culture is like, what people tend to do there, and what your intended position usually entails.
Now, on the general position and duties side, there are tons of websites on the internet, so I recommend just Googling, what does a network engineer do, for example, but for the individual company, you can use sites like Glassdoor and Vault to get reviews from actual employees and get a little bit of a feel for what the company’s culture is like.
Tip number five, which is to bring a notebook and a pen to the interview with you.
Doing this is yet another signal that you are dedicated and detail-oriented, because you’re able to actually take notes on the details of the position during the interview, but it also allows you to come prepared with some pre-written notes about the company’s history or any questions that you might have. You should also bring a couple of copies of your resume, just in case it becomes useful during the course of the conversation. And if you happen to be applying for a position where examples of your work would be useful, bring those along as well.
Tip number six, Send thank you notes or thank you emails within 24 hours of your interview.
Now, I say thank you notes or thank you emails because in my mind, time is of the essence here, and in a lot of cases, it’s pretty difficult to get an actual, physical handwritten note to your interviewer, especially if the building that you went to the interview in is far away from where you are. So in those cases, a thank you email works pretty well.
But if you happen to have the ability to give an actual handwritten thank you note, and it’s within 24 hours or maybe within 48hours and yes, that was a pun, that you shouldn’t limit your thank you notes or thank you emails just to the interviewer. If you interacted with a secretary during your time at the building or you actually got to go tour the building or talk to somebody doing a job that you would be doing, send those people thank you emails as well. It really goes a long way.
Tip number seven on our list is to wear a well-tailored suit to your interview, assuming that you need to wear business formal attire.
Now, I do have to make a slight admission here. Ever since I bought myself a suit that actually fits well, unlike the one I had in college, which definitely didn’t, it fit me like a tarp, I’ve leaned towards recommending an actual suit to go into interviews rather than just regular business formal attire. But if you don’t happen to have a suit and you can’t afford one, you can definitely wear a button-down shirt with a nice tie and a nice pair of slacks.
If you’re a girl, there are definitely dresses that fit that business formal requirement, or you can do something like a dress skirt. But in general, you want to make sure that you are dressed for success in the situation. Now, one exception to this recommendation is if you are specifically told not to wear a suit, or if they tell you what to wear to the interview. If you’re going to a company that has a really casual dress culture and they say, “Hey, just show up in a T-shirt and jeans, man,” don’t show up in a suit because you’re going to look like you won’t it into that company’s culture.
Now, in the case that you don’t quite know how a suit should fit or you’re looking for some additional tips on how to dress well for an interview, I definitely have some recommendations for you guys on this blog word parrot, just use our search box to search for my previous article on how to dress for an interview by word parrot.
Tip number eight is to be prepared for behavioral interview questions.
These are the kind of questions that ask you to tell a story about your previous work experience that demonstrates how you handled the situation and what you learned and improved on. Some examples of these kind of questions include, tell me about a time when you were in a high pressure situation and how you responded. Or give me an example of a time when you didn’t meet a goal that you had set and how you dealt with it. Or, tell me about a time when hordes of the undead attacked your workplace, and what items from the break room you fashioned into makeshift weapons.
Okay, maybe not that one, So the best way to handle these kinds of questions is to look at examples of them beforehand and to think of stories from your past working life that would fit them. And crucially, the stories you pick should be crafted in a way that demonstrates how you learned or improved in some way that’s relevant to the job. Now, keep in mind that you don’t need a specific story for every possible interview question that could come out, because one, that is impossible, and two, when you have a few stories and you’ve practiced them, they’re going to be pretty adaptable and you’re going to be able to apply them to a wide range of different questions.
Tip number nine, View the interview for exactly what it is, a conversation between two parties who have things to exchange.
The reason this tip is on the list is because a lot of people go into interviews feeling like they’re going into an audience with King Louis the five or something, and they’re going to be granted a job because of the mercy and benevolence of the almighty king that’s sitting across the table from them. That’s not the case.
Remember, companies put a lot of time and effort and money into attracting the best possible talent. That’s what they live and die by. So believe that you are the best possible person for the job, and let that be communicated in the interview. Don’t be arrogant or cocky, but be confident.
Finally, our last tip on the list is that 15 minutes early is on time, and on time is late.
Here’s the thing. You want a bit of buffer time when you walk into the company’s doors, just in case they happen to be ready for you right now. You don’t want to be coming in 30 seconds late because you got stuck in traffic. Plus, showing up a little bit early makes a really good first impression and it gives you an opportunity to potentially network with the person running the front desk or some other people at the company before you go into the interview.
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