When you have successfully mastered cover letters, resumes, and job applications and are receiving requests for interviews, it’s time to understand how to succeed in the job interview so that you move ever closer to your goal of obtaining one or more job offers.
1. Conduct Research on the Employer, Hiring Manager, Job Opportunity.
Success in a job interview starts with a solid foundation of knowledge on the job-seeker’s part. You should understand the employer, the requirements of the job, and the background of the person (or people) interviewing you. The more research you conduct, the more you’ll understand the employer, and the better you’ll be able to answer interview questions (as well as ask insightful questions — see #8). Information sources include the organization’s Website and other published materials, search engines, research tools, and your network of contacts.
2. Review Common Interview Questions and Prepare Responses.
Another key to interview success is preparing responses to expected interview questions. First, inquire as to the type of interview to expect (which you can do by asking your contact person at the organization). Your goal is composing detailed yet concise responses, focusing on specific examples and accomplishments. A good tool for remembering your responses is to put them into story form that you can tell in the interview. No need to memorize responses (in fact, it’s best not to), but at least develop talking points. QuintCareers has a number of excellent tools to help you with interview questions and responses. Consider using one or more of these tools:
3. Dress for Success.
Plan out a wardrobe that fits the organization and its culture, striving for the most professional appearance you can accomplish. Remember that it’s always better to be overdressed than under — and to wear clothing that fits and is clean and pressed. Keep accessories and jewelry to a minimum. Try not to smoke or eat right before the interview — and if possible, brush your teeth or use mouthwash.
4. Arrive on Time for the Interview — and Prepared for Success.
There is no excuse for ever arriving late for an interview — other than some sort of disaster. Strive to arrive about 15 minutes before your scheduled interview to complete additional paperwork and allow yourself time to get settled. Arriving a bit early is also a chance to observe the dynamics of the workplace. The day before the interview, pack up extra copies of your resume or CV and reference list. If you have a portfolio or samples of your work, bring those along too. Finally, remember to pack several pens and a pad of paper to jot notes. Finally, as you get to the offices, shut off your cell phone. (And if you were chewing gum, get rid of it.)
5. Make Good First Impressions — to Everyone You Encounter.
A cardinal rule of interviewing: Be polite and offer warm greetings to everyone you meet — from parking attendant or receptionist to the hiring manager. Employers often are curious how job applicants treat staff members — and your job offer could easily be derailed if you’re rude or arrogant to any of the staff. When it’s time for the interview, keep in mind that first impressions — the ones interviewers make in the first few seconds of greeting you — can make or break an interview. Make a strong first impression by dressing well (see #3), arriving early (see #4), and when greeting your interviewer, stand, smile, make eye contact, and offer a firm (neither limp and nor bone-crushing) handshake. Remember that having a positive attitude and expressing enthusiasm for the job and employer are vital in the initial stages of the interview; studies show that hiring managers make critical decisions about job applicants in the first 20 minutes of the interview.