You did it! You finally landed that coveted job interview. The hard part is over, but now another major challenge is on the horizon: the actual interview.
Here’s how to go into it confident, prepared and hirable:
Before the Interview …
Analyze the job description
It’s a waste of time to go into an interview for a position you don’t want or, worse, for which you’re not actually qualified. When applying for a job there are several components for ensuring that this is the right gig for you. According to career communications coach Mishri Someshwar, you need to make sure you know what’s at the core of the job, what skills you need, and how you can demonstrate them.
Research the company
It sounds basic, but you’d probably be surprised at the staggering number of potential employees who walk into an interview without researching the company’s background or even visiting its website. Showing up with virtually no knowledge of the company is an excellent way of getting laughed out of the room.
“Learn the full name of the company, founding year, what its mission is, what it does, where it’s successful, and where it isn’t. How it talks about itself and how rivals, media or third parties describe it. Make sure to review its review on Glassdoor to see what past and current employees think,” Someshwar suggests.
Tiffany Gibson, creator of Get the Job App, points out another important aspect of your research: knowing the interview location and how to get there efficiently before it starts.
“Drive there the day before, so that on the day of the interview you don’t get lost,” she says. “This will help you remain calm and somewhat relaxed. And on interview day make sure you check the traffic report before you leave.”
Really want the job
Some people want a job just to have a job — and that’s perfectly respectable in today’s economy — but if you’re not in it to win it, it’ll show in the interview.
“Don’t bother if you’re going just because you want any job. Most interviewers can sniff your ambivalence a mile away,” says Someshwar.
During the Interview …
Be ready to converse
You’re not going into the interview just to answers questions. You’re expected to ask questions too — to feel out the position a little more, get a better understanding of what’s required, and get answers to anything else about the job.
“This isn’t an inquisition, or at least shouldn’t be,” Someshwar says. “Even if your interviewer is one of the rare few who acts that way, do what you can to make this a conversation and answer and ask questions with that approach in mind.”
Believe in yourself
What sets you apart from other candidates? Your skill set, for one — but also your confidence. Go in with your head high, ready to slay.
“Remember, this is not charity,” Someshwar reminds. “They’re not interviewing you out of the kindness of their heart. Come in knowing you have value to bring, and show that confidence through warmth, curiosity and authority.”
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Ask good questions
Jot down a list of questions before your interview, then weed out the weak ones. Practice brevity, too; keep questions tight and intelligent.
“Ask questions about what the goals for this role are, what the company’s long term ambitions are, and how they measure success,” suggests Someshwar. “These are universally excellent questions that show you’re curious, ambitious and motivated to succeed.”
After the Interview …
Send a thank you note
Sending thank-you notes is a lost art these days, but they’re perhaps never more important than when sent as a follow-up to an interview. E-mail is okay, but a hard card via snail mail is better. Personalize the note and reference a memorable part of the interview for an extra edge.
Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal, best described as “Uber for lawn care,” seconds that sentiment.
“I’d recommend sending a thank-you note a day or two after the interview, but place less emphasis on the note itself,” he says. “Rather, send an article or a piece of research that relates to the business and current trends, or ties the content to your interview discussion. That way you show that you’re engaged and in-tune with what’s going on.”
Keep in touch
The human resources department is the admin connection between you and the hiring team, so make sure you get in touch within 10 days if you haven’t heard anything after your interview. Don’t be too eager or pushy, however. Emphasize your interest, but play it cool. You don’t want to blow your chances by being naggy and annoying. HR has other work to do besides field your phone calls and e-mails every other day.