Job interviews are rarely, if ever, enjoyable. The knowledge that you’re about to be asked tough questions and scrutinized down to your wardrobe is enough to make anyone squirm.
Here are ten tips that will make the process less painful, and boost your chances of landing the position.
1) Arrive early
It’s a good idea to get to an interview 20 to 30 minutes early. This allows plenty of extra time for possible traffic delays, or public transportation issues. It’s also wise to travel to the interview location sometime before the day of the interview to familiarize yourself with the route, the parking situation, and building access.
2) Don’t under- or overdress
Another big benefit of traveling to the job site ahead of time is that it will give you time to check out the business’ dress code. Spend a bit of time in the parking lot and watch current employees come and go.
Dress in a manner that is professionally appropriate to the job for which you’re applying. A suit isn’t the standard level of dress in every industry. Over-dressing can signal that you haven’t done your research about the company just as much as under-dressing can.
3) Be mindful of your body language
Poor body language can be a distraction. It can also communicate things to the interviewer that you don’t mean to. Slouching, playing with a pen, or flipping your hair can indicate disinterest. Crossed arms can indicate defensiveness or an unwillingness to be fully open and honest.
Your best bet is to smile, maintain eye contact, keep an upright posture, and nod while the interviewer is speaking.
4) Listen, and be courteous
Never interrupt. Always say “please” and “thank you.” And refer to your interviewer as “ma’am” or “sir” unless they volunteer the form of address they’d like you to use.
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5) Don’t overshare
If the recruiter asks you to introduce yourself, it’s okay to speak about your personal life, but only briefly.
6) Don’t bad-mouth your previous boss, company, or coworkers
If you have nothing but bad things to say about your previous work situation, the recruiter is going to look at the one common denominator as the cause of those negative situations: you.
7) Be honest
If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification. This will show that you care more about doing tasks the correct way, rather than muddling through and possibly making mistakes. And If you don’t have experience with a certain aspect of the job, don’t fudge the truth. Admit it. Then spin the negative into a positive: you’re eager to learn, you’re adaptable to any training they’ll provide, you already possess some skills that are similar to what they’re looking for, etc.
8) Be prepared for the most-dreaded question: “What is your greatest weakness?”
Answering this question with “I’m a workaholic” or “I’m a perfectionist,” won’t impress anyone – those are the most cliched responses out there and demonstrate that you didn’t give the question any real thought.
Instead, volunteer an actual weakness, and then spin it into a positive about how you’ve improved. “Being organized wasn’t always my strongest point. But now I track my projects in a spreadsheet so I can prioritize them and not miss any deadlines.”
9) When the interview is over don’t ask, “How did I do?”
It’s understandable that at the end of an interview you’ll be desperate to know if you’re still in the running for the position. But don’t ask the recruiter to assess your performance or if you got the job. This demonstrates a level of presumption that could be construed as rude. Also, the recruiter will likely have other candidates to interview after you, possibly with other hiring managers present. So he or she won’t be in a position to give you a yes or no answer before you leave the building.
10) Afterward, thank the interviewer in person, and also in an email
Sending a brief “thank you” email to each of your interviewers gives you an edge over candidates who don’t take this step. And everyone likes to hear that their time is appreciated.
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