5 Tips for a Successful Job Interview
Job interviews can be nerve-racking, to say the least. Even the most qualified and experienced professionals can feel quite anxious as they prepare for a potentially life-changing job interview.
On the other hand, preparation, practice, and a confident attitude can go a long way. To succeed at a job interview, you need to consider various factors, but there are ways to prepare for each one. From researching the company and learning more about its goals and achievements to picking your outfit and planning your commute to the site (or setting up the environment if it’s a virtual meeting), there are certain steps you can take to get ready for your upcoming job interview.
You can also practice some common questions with a friend or a colleague or do a mock interview with one of our experts, who will give you constructive feedback and help you fine-tune your answers to typically asked questions. As a bonus, you can get that extra boost of confidence by optimizing your approach—a confident demeanor can make all the difference to how the interviewer perceives you.
To showcase your experience and professionalism during the interview, it’s important to dress appropriately, make sure your resume is up to date and tailored to the position you’re interviewing for, and know well the field you’re entering. Understanding the employer’s needs and goals will also score you points as it shows you did your due diligence and researched the company. Remember: The interviewer may be asking you questions about yourself, but it’s really the company and its needs that are the focus, so you’ll want to tailor your answers to the position.
Preparing a few questions beforehand is also crucial since many interviewers will ask what you want to know about them or the company, and having something ready will show your interest in the job. You can ask about the kind of person they’re hoping to get for the position you’re aspiring to, the company’s culture and goals, and the opportunities to grow within the organization. Just make sure your questions are appropriate and relevant—steer clear of superficial queries about salary, working hours, benefits, or other things that may lead the hiring manager to believe you’re interested in the position for the wrong reasons.
These are all things you have to do in the days or weeks leading up to the meeting, but how can you increase your chances of success during the actual job interview?
1. Be early
You don’t want to show up to your job interview all sweaty and out of breath, and you definitely don’t want to be late, so you should always aim to be there early. You have to be reasonable, though—there’s no need to arrive an hour early, but aim to be there around 15 minutes before the appointed time, which will be just enough to visit the restroom and also demonstrate your punctuality. In a sense, the interview starts before you meet the interviewer, so think of coming early as another part of the process.
We also recommend giving yourself more time to get there than you think you’ll need, just in case there are any unexpected setbacks, such as traffic or bad weather. Make sure that you have the right address, have figured out the best way to get there, and know exactly where you’re supposed to go—you don’t want to rush, so plan accordingly. It’s a good idea to scout out the route before the day of the interview to familiarize yourself with the commute and the neighborhood and prepare for any potential obstacles. In the event that something completely unavoidable happens, call the interviewer to let them know you’re running late.
2. Be polite
You want to make a favorable first impression and be memorable for the right reasons, so while you should definitely be yourself, it’s important to be polite to the person or people interviewing you. This might mean adopting a more formal demeanor than you normally would—just make sure you’re presenting a professional front.
Consider and respect any cultural differences you might encounter, such as appropriate greetings or the way you should address your interviewer. Even if you don’t have a different cultural background, different companies will have different workplace conventions and expectations, and you want to show the employer that you fit in. Definitely don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking—that’s bad manners in any culture!
Be mindful of your body as well, especially if you’re prone to fidgeting, tapping your feet, or wringing your hands when you’re nervous. Yes, these habits are unconscious, but paying close attention to your body language will help you keep them in check. They could make you appear insecure, and hiring managers want to see confidence in their candidates—after all, if you have no confidence in yourself, why should they?
Be aware of any tics that might distract from the conversation, and do your best to keep them under control during the interview. Although involuntary tics are obviously not impolite, being unaware of yours can be perceived so in certain situations, which is why it’s best to avoid any distracting behaviors if possible.
3. Be attentive
You don’t want to pay attention only to yourself and the messages you convey with your body language—you also want to be in tune with what the other person is putting out. However, even more important than being attentive to details such as your interviewer’s body language, tone, and speech patterns is considering who is interviewing you. Knowing whether they are your potential future boss or supervisor, an HR team member, or a headhunter will help you tailor the way you communicate and choose what questions to ask.
You can do some research in advance to familiarize yourself with some of the most important people in the company, making sure you have an interview strategy for each type of person who might interview you.
If your interview is taking place at the office where you would potentially be working, use this opportunity to look for clues about the work environment and culture and consider whether this is really the right place for you. Remember that although you’re there to showcase your skills, you also have to be comfortable with the working conditions. The interview is a chance not only for the employer to assess your potential but also for you to evaluate your prospective new work environment.
4. Be honest
When asked about your weaknesses, discuss them honestly, but don’t volunteer to share them unprompted. Choose actual weaknesses—not clichés such as “I’m too much of a perfectionist”—but avoid things that would have a detrimental impact on your ability to do the job. Be transparent about why you left your previous employer, but refrain from criticizing them—it won’t be a good look on you. If you’re overly negative about your previous jobs or employers, the interviewer may worry that this hostility could transfer to your new workplace.
Being honest will also make you feel more at ease, which is critical because your body language will show whether you’re being dishonest about something pertinent to the interview. If the interviewer believes you’re being untruthful, it doesn’t matter how qualified you say you are.
5. Be confident
You’ve done the research, you know the market, you practiced your answers, and you look great, so own it! Feel confident in your skills, knowledge, and experience, and remember why you applied for this job in the first place. You don’t want to come across as arrogant, but do remind yourself why you’re the right person for the position. Try to take a more objective look at yourself—how would you perceive someone else with your strengths and weaknesses? This can help boost your confidence if you’re overly critical of yourself. You’re well prepared and you’re ready, so trust yourself to shine and the interviewer will see it.
Another important tip for showing up confident and ready is to take care of yourself the night before. Go to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep, eat a nutritious breakfast, and stick to any other routine activities that put you in a great frame of mind, such as meditating or working out. These may not seem relevant to your interview, but they can make a huge difference.
If you feel you still need some help to do great under this pressure, check out our services for job success and let our team of experts assist you throughout the job application process.