- Research the company. The first thing you should do after you’ve been asked to interview for a position at a company is to research the company. Find out what the mission of the company is, how long it’s been around, how many employees it has, and what your position would be if you got the job. If the company has a motto, memorize it. Make sure you know as much about it as you can so you can impress your interviewers and show them how much you care.
- You can find ways to show that you know your stuff during the interview. You can say something like, “I’ve read all about your mission and I think being committed to educating the world for free is an amazing goal.”
- Show that you know what the position entails, too. If you know the qualities the interviewers are looking for, then it’ll be easier to sell yourself and to show that you possess them.
Research your interviewers if you can. If you can spend a few minutes looking up your interviewers, finding out where they went to college, where they previously worked, or anything else about them, then you’ll have a leg up in the interview process. Though you don’t need to mention that you internet stalked them unless it comes up, if you find a few things you have in common, such as the fact that you both happened to work at the same company five years ago, then this can help you get an extra advantage.
- You can check out their LinkedIn profiles or their profiles on any other professional networks to get even more information.
- Just don’t get too personal. You don’t to mention something you found on the interviewer’s Facebook page.
Prepare to answer common questions. Though each interview is different, there are certain questions that many interviewers commonly ask, and it’s good to have some answers prepared so you don’t look unprepared or caught off guard. Here are some questions you should be prepared to answer:
- “What are your biggest strengths?” Pick a strength or strengths that illustrate why you’d be a good fit for the position, and provide concrete details to back up why you possess that strength. Make sure it’s relevant to the job.
- “What are your biggest weaknesses?” Don’t say “I work too hard” — everyone has heard this one before! Instead, pick a weakness that isn’t super important to the position and show that you’re working on improving at it. Say something like, “My biggest weakness with teaching is time management. I get so excited about all of the material that I sometimes try to cram too much new material into one class. But I’ve learned to break down each class in five-minute intervals and to make sure to only cover what the students can handle in one class period.”
- “Why do you want to work at this company?” Don’t tell your interviewers that you want to work there because it’s the only company that asked you for an interview. Instead, point out several things you like about the company and be as detailed as possible; also make it clear why you think you would fit in there and be able to contribute to their team.
Prepare to ask at least two questions. At the end of most interviews, your potential employers will ask you if you have any questions you want to ask them. You should prepare at least a handful of questions and pick the ones that are the most relevant to ask; this shows that you’ve done your research and are excited about the position. If you just smile and say that you have no questions, this makes it look like you don’t care about the position all that much. Here are some things you can ask about:
- Details about an aspect of the job you’d like to know more about
- Asking what your daily life on the job would look like, such as how much time you’d spend collaborating with other co-workers
- Asking what their favorite part of working for the company is
- Asking about other ways you can get involved at the company in addition to the job description. For example, if you’re applying for a teaching job at the high school, you can ask if you can be involved in extracurricular activities too.
Practice with a friend. If you want to feel really confident going into that interview, then you may want to practice with a friend or even someone who knows about your field first. This can help you practice stating your answers with confidence, getting the body language down, and feeling secure in what you have to offer. This is also a great way to get rid of some of those pre-interview jitters and to give you the confidence you need to face the interview.
- You can even dress up for the practice interview so you don’t feel so nervous when you put on your interview clothes.
- Have your friend give you an honest assessment of what you could do better in the actual interview. Just make sure that the friend gives you more compliments than criticism so you feel encouraged.
Prepare to explain why you’d be a good fit for the company. Another thing you need to get ready to say is why you’d be a great fit for the company. Check out what the employees at the company are like and what the company values the most when it comes to the position you’re seeking; use buzzwords to show why you possess those qualities and why you’d be a perfect fit for the job you’re interviewing for. Here are some things you can say:
- “I know that strong communication skills are essential for this position, and I would be a great fit for it because of my years of management, training, and hiring experience. I’ve communicated with employees, customers, and managers for years and have learned how to give positive feedback as well as how to respectfully discuss room for improvement.”
- “I’m excited about all of the teamwork that the position requires. I’ve successfully worked in teams and have collaborated with many co-workers at my current position, and I would be eager to bring that experience to your company.”
Prepare to bring everything you need. It’s important to get everything you need together the day before you go to the interview so you don’t have to do any last-minute preparation to get ready for the big day. You’ll most likely need to bring your resume and cover letter to use as a reference, as well as any other additional materials that you think will help give your interviewers a better sense of who you are and the work that you do.
- For example, if you’re applying for a teaching position, you may want to bring an old syllabus to show the kind of work that you’re capable of doing.
Part 2 of 3: Acing the Interview
Dress professionally. If you want to make a good impression, then you have to start off by dressing professionally. If that means spending some money on a business-appropriate outfit, then you’ll have to make this choice; having at least one solid interview outfit can really help you land the job of your dreams. Even if the office is a bit more casual, you should err on the side of being a bit overdressed, which is far better than looking casual in front of formally-dressed interviewers.
- Make sure to groom yourself well and to pay attention to your hygiene, too. If you don’t put time and effort into your appearance, it will show.
- Try on your outfit at least a few days before to make sure that it’s flattering and that there are no problems with it. You don’t want to put on your interview outfit an hour before your interview to find that the store clerk forgot to take off the security tag.
Arrive at least 10 minutes early. Showing up a little bit early to the interview shows that you’re punctual and that you really care about your job. Plus, if you rush in there just before it’s time to begin, you won’t have time to decompress and get into a relaxed state of mind. If your potential employers see that you can’t even arrive to an interview on time, they’ll be likely to think that there’s not a big chance that you’ll show up to work on time, either.
- Even if you’re really early, throw out your Starbucks coffee at the door. Rolling in with coffee shows that you’re taking too much of a casual approach.
- If you’re half an hour early, wait outside or in your car. You don’t want to show up way too early and then end up making your interviewers feel flustered because they aren’t ready for you.
Introduce yourself with confidence. When you walk into the room, stand tall, make eye contact, put a smile on your face, and give your interviewers a firm, confident handshake when you introduce yourself. Walk with confidence and avoid fidgeting or looking around the room; remember that you only have one chance to make a first impression, and you want it to count.
- You can say something simple like, “I’m Susan. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me.”
Be articulate when you answer the questions. Speak as clearly and confidently as you can and make eye contact when you share your thoughts and ideas. Try to avoid saying “like” or “um” too much and focus on getting your points across, even if that means pausing to think. The most important thing is that you deliver your words with confidence and sound like you really mean what you say.
- Practicing saying what you have to say aloud can help you gain the confidence to be articulate during your interview. That said, you should make sure your words sound natural, not rehearsed.
Avoid sharing overly personal information. Though you may feel like your interviewers really like you and that they’re getting buddy buddy with you, you should avoid mentioning anything overly personal about yourself. Don’t talk about your significant other, your kids, or your personal problems at home; this shows that you’re not focused on the job and that you’re unprofessional.
- Of course, if you see that your interviewer has a big poster of your favorite sports team in his office, you can mention the connection in passing if it comes up, but don’t get much more personal than that.
Make sure to thank your interviewers in person. When the interview is over, show that you’re grateful for the fact that your interviewers took the time to meet with you and to get a chance to talk to you about your skills and qualifications. As you leave the room, shake your interviewer’s hand again and make sure to look her in the eye and give her a sincere smile and a real thank you; this shows that you’re considerate and that you’re really grateful for the opportunity.
- Just say something simple like, “Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me. This has been a wonderful opportunity and I really appreciate it.”
- As the conversation wraps up, you can also ask about a time frame and next steps. They should tell you when they’ll get back to you and what the next steps would be.
Know what not to do. There are a few things you should avoid at all costs when you go into an interview. Many people don’t know that a few innocent comments can actually cause a big red flag to go up for the interviewer. Choose your words carefully and make sure you give an impression of being a respectful, hard worker who is truly excited about the position. Here are some things you should avoid:
- Don’t ask about the perks of the job before you’ve been given an offer. This will make it look like you’re more interested in vacation days than in working.
- Don’t talk about how you’ve applied to a million jobs without being asked for an interview. Make it look like you really want this specific position.
- Don’t say something that shows how little you know about the company or how little research you’ve done. Make sure your potential employers see that you really care about the company.
Don’t bad mouth your current job or employer. Even if your boss is a rude, petty, inconsiderate, condescending jerk and your job is unstimulating and you feel completely unfulfilled there, you should say something like, “I’ve gained a lot of great experiences at my current position, but I’m ready for a new challenge.” If you say horrible things about your job or your boss, then your potential future employers will think that you may turn around and say the same about them in the future.
- You want to give the impression of being an easygoing, agreeable person who is easy to work with. Even if your conflicts at work aren’t your fault, you don’t want to give the impression of being someone who is difficult to work with.
Follow up. Once you’ve completed your interview, you should send your interviewer a quick email thanking him or her for taking the time to meet with you and to reiterate your interest in this position. Taking the time to write a quick note to your interviewer shows that you took the process seriously and that you’re eager to find out about the next steps.
- Besides, not everyone does this, so you will make yourself stand out as a person who is truly passionate about the position.
Part 3 of 3: Acing Other Types of Interviews
Ace the Skype interview. The trick to acing a Skype interview is to treat it just as seriously as a real interview even though you’re not doing it in person. If you want to really succeed, then dress up just as if you were going to a real interview, leave a copy of your resume and cover letter on your desk, and make sure you’re in a quiet place with good internet connection.
- Pick a location with flattering lighting so your interviewers can really see you and read your expressions.
- Close your email window and any other windows that are likely to distract you during the interview. Give all of your attention to the person who is talking to you.
- Check that your microphone and video chat works in advance. Practice by trying to chat with a friend the day before so you know you won’t have any technical difficulties when the time comes.
Ace the phone interview. Many companies have an initial phone interview to get a better sense of their top applicants before they invite them to meet for an interview in person. This saves time for them and gives them a better understanding of each candidate. You should treat this type of interview just as seriously as a real interview. Have your notes in front of you, dress up, and find a quiet place and good reception so you can have a meaningful conversation over the phone.
- Make sure to be professional and considerate in all of your responses. Don’t slack off just because you’re only talking over the phone.
- Remember that, since your interviewer won’t have visual cues, you’ll have to work extra hard to paint a picture of who you are with words. Have a list of relevant buzzwords ready if you think it’ll help you.
Ace the group interview. Occasionally, you may be invited to a group interview so that your interviewers can interview more candidates at once and so they can get a better sense of how you interact with other people. The trick to acing these interviews is to be able to be assertive enough to still give your interviewers a sense of who you are while also showing that you’re considerate toward others and can work well in teams.
- Don’t try to put down other interviewers in order to make yourself look good. Instead, be kind and supportive toward them while making it clear that you’re the best candidate for the job.
- If there are group activities during the interview, try to take a leadership position while making sure you’re not bossy and don’t keep the other interviewers from contributing.