You’ve spent hours revising your resume, tweaking your cover letter, and practicing your pitch. You’ve made a list of your top five target companies and finally landed an interview with your #1 choice. SUCCESS.
But now you’ve got a couple of days to prepare for an interview and you’re completely overwhelmed! It is time to do your homework. Use these 11 simple tips for a successful interview to help you land that dream job. Trust us: working closely with hundreds of clients in the throes of interviews with potential employees, we know a thing or two about interview best practices.
Having little or no knowledge of the company is the most common mistake job seekers make during interviews. Interviewing is just plain hard if you have no idea what the company does!
To that end, researching the company thoroughly before the interview is our most important interview tip for success. Check out the company's website, recent news articles online, social media channels, and whatever else you can find. The goal is to gain a working knowledge of the company's services, values, and culture, as well as the competitive landscape. That way, you'll be in a better position to sell yourself; you have a chance to think through which of your qualities or experiences could help them meet their goals should you be hired.
If you know the names of the individuals with whom you will be meeting, take it a step further and look them up on LinkedIn. This will give you an understanding of their background and common areas of interest between yourself and the interviewer.
Don't worry: you won't be expected to know everything about a company or a position during an interview. But the more you know, the better.
Bring a folder or portfolio with extra copies of your resume, a copy of professional references, any examples of past work (if applicable), and a pad of paper and a pen to take notes during the interview. Before your interview, make sure you have the correct interview location and look up directions to the location. This will help avoid unnecessary stress on the day of the interview.
It’s time to get out your best interview clothes! In most instances, we recommend wearing a suit. Even if the company for which you are interviewing has a casual or laid back environment, you don’t want to give the appearance that you are coming into the interview casual, so dress to impress and look confident!
NEVER arrive late for an interview. Always arrive at the interview location at least 5 to 10 minutes before the interview.
Employers are always on the lookout for a firm handshake and eye contact to gauge confidence. During the interview, speak confidently (even though you may be nervous on the inside). Smiling, nodding when the interviewer is speaking, and having solid posture all send positive signals to interviewers.
Do your best to avoid playing with objects, fidgeting, looking around the room, and chewing gum. This type of body language can give the interviewer the impression that you are disengaged.
We often hear from our clients that one of the most neglected interview skills displayed by candidates during their interview is a lack of listening. Listening is very important as it allows you to answer the interviewer's questions accurately. Listen to questions being asked of you and respond with detailed and concise responses.
Before the interview, take some time to reflect on your career path. Prepare examples that highlight your successes to help you create a story for the employer. Remember, your past behavior is a strong indicator of your future performance.
Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes and determine certain questions you think they may ask you. Then, develop answers to those questions that include performance metrics whenever possible, or specific supporting details.
Nothing will get you shown the door quicker than a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. If the interviewer doesn’t feel like you want the job, you won’t get it. Period. In fact, The Undercover Recruiter found that failing to ask for the job is the most common mistake made by interviewers.
You can show interest by commenting on remarks made by the interviewers, or—even easier—by asking questions. You can prepare questions ahead of time, leaving less need for on-the-fly thinking.
On top of that, it is a big turnoff for employers when interviewees' don't ask questions during or after the interview. This is your opportunity to find out valuable information from the employer firsthand, so don’t miss your shot.
Companies want to hire people with positive attitudes. This is not the time to sound off on how horrible your last boss was, or how terrible the coffee was at your last job. The interviewer will be trying to uncover how you handle adversity, so do your best to put everything in the best possible light and focus on the positive in negative situations.
All of these tips for interviews that we've mentioned must be balanced out by the importance of being yourself in the interview. Don’t spend your time trying to prepare for what you think they want to hear. The main purpose of an interview is for the potential employer to learn more about you and figure out if you’re a good fit for the role. In fact, the question that is most likely to be asked is ‘tell me about yourself.’
Your resume has already shown that you have the background to be successful in the job, so be confident in your achievements and skills. If you fake your way through an interview, you may find yourself in a role in which you can never truly be successful.
Within 24 hours, send a thank-you email or card. This message is another opportunity to remind the interviewer of all of the positive traits you possess that you can bring to this position and company. If you don't send one, another candidate probably will. Wouldn't you prefer to keep the odds stacked in your favor?
The thank-you note is just one of many post-interview tactics to set yourself apart from other interviewees. Here's how to nail the post-interview process.
An interview is an opportunity to sell yourself to an employer on your experience, personality and what you can bring to the table for the desired position. The majority of the time, the most qualified candidate is not the one who is hired. It typically is the candidate that does the best job selling themselves to the employer and showcasing their fit within the job and company.
By following these tips for a successful interview, you are on the right path to landing your dream job.
Editor's Note: Originally published 3/11/15; updated 3/23/20.