6 Job Interview Tips Everyone Need to Know

By Belinda Claxton (June 15, 2016)

It’s been said that job interviews are like first dates: Initial impressions count, awkwardness can occur, and outcomes are unpredictable.  Being good on paper is only one aspect of the screening process.  “A lot of people assume that a great resume is enough,” says Laura DeCarlo, president of Career Directors International and author of Resumes for Dummies. Employers are looking for both someone who meets the criteria and someone they connect with.  While there is no one way to woo a hiring manager, a little due diligence before, during, and after the interview will ensure you present the best version of your professional self.

Do Your Homework:

A common mistake is not doing adequate research prior to the interview. The last thing you want to do is ask a question that could have easlity been answered by performing a Google search or reading their “About Us” page.

Familiarize yourself with the company’s mission and values in order to understand what sets them apart from their competitors. Look for information on the company’s website, Twitter and Facebook feeds, or external sources like LinkedIn.  And do a bit of research on the person interviewing you to get a better sense of their career path and what their position entailes.  If your’re looking them up on LinkedIn, make sure your settings let them see when you have viewed their profile, which shows you’re interested in them as well as the position.

Practice, Practice, Practice:

Formulating answers to the most common interview questions will ensure you are neither at a loss for words nor long-winded.  You’re all but guaranteed a “tell me a little about yourself” at the beginning of an interview, and according to experts, how well you answer this  question is critical to set the right tone.  Limit your response to one to two minutes and get right to the point to keep if from sounding like a monologue.  Start strong with an opening statement that is a big picture of who you are and where you are in your career right now.  Follow this up with a few key points of why you are an eligible candidate, such as work experience, promotions and awards.  Tailor it to the specific position and rehearse until it feels natural.

Look and Feel Your Best:

The interview is not the place for fashion peacocking, but rather, for blending in.  You want to look the part, so ask a friend in the industry for pointers or do some “dress code” research online.  In general, avoid anything too tight, low, short, or showy.  Your beauty look should be similarly understated:  neat and tidy nails, subtle makeup, and skip any noticeable fragrance.  Pinning back your hair can help if you have a habit of playing with it when you’re nervous.

Make a Fabulous Entrance:

Do a practice run to the interview location if you don’t know exactly where it is or how long it takes to get there and arrive no more than 10 to 15 minutes early with extra copies of your resume and make sure it’s on heavy stock paper.

Be polite to everyone you come into contact with, including the assistant at the front desk as you can be guaranteed they will ask the person who was watching you in the lobby how you behaved.  Leave your phone in the car as you never ever answer your phone in the middle of an interview.  When you first meet the interviewer, greet them with a firm handshake and repeat their name to help you remember it.  Address them with a personal title, such as Mr. or Ms., until invited to do otherwise as this shows a simple sign of respect which your other candidates may fail to do.

Demonstrate Confidence Beyond Body Language:

Behaviours such as squeezing the armrest or swinging your foot are distracting and will make you seem nervous.  Watch out for defensive postures like arms crossed across your chest, overly emphatic hand gestures that can err on the aggressive side, and slumped shoulders that suggest you’re unsure of yourself.  Instead, keep both feet on the ground, place your hands in your lap, and sit up straight with your shoulders back, which will also help you better project your voice.

Make a Fabulous Exit:

Before you close an interview, let the employer know you are enthusiastic about the opportunity and eager to work for them, and find out when they plan on making a decision.  It’s fair to want to know this information, and it will help you inform an appropriate time to follow up.  If you haven’t heard anything by the given date, wait at least two days before you write an email, otherwise it seems pushy.

Make sure you send a thank-you note, via email and/or by mail, immediately following the interview.  A letter can include a level of detail not fit for an email, but if you decide to take that extra step, let the interviewer know it’s en route when you thank them electronically as there is nothing as professional as putting a letter in the mail.