Without a doubt, the interview is the most nerve-wracking part of the job seeking process. Our hiring professionals — who interview literally thousands of candidates per year — share these top tips for making a great impression.
Look and act professional
This starts with your physical appearance: how you’re dressed and groomed. You’d be surprised how often we see people show up even for management positions dressed in a t-shirt and torn jeans, with ratty hair or loudly clanking jewelry. Guess who DIDN’T get the job!
Plan your outfit ahead of time, and make sure that it is clean, ironed and doesn’t need mending. Right before you go inside for your interview, check your hair, teeth and makeup.
Professional presentation is also about manners and body language. Smile, give a firm handshake and make confident eye contact. Don’t eat or take/make phone calls during the interviews (yes, this really happens). Try to stop nervous habits such as fidgeting or mumbling. And say thank-you for the interviewer’s time and consideration at the end of the interview.
Answer questions thoughtfully
The interviewer already knows what’s on your resume, so really doesn’t want to hear you just repeat that same information. We’re looking for a deeper understanding of your skills, experience and personality.
If asked about a particular skill, tell stories about how you used that skill in previous jobs to create successful outcomes. Focus your replies on how you can contribute to the company’s goals, not so much how working for them will benefit you.
If you have to stop and think before you answer a question, that’s perfectly fine. Don’t allow yourself to feel rushed. We love to get clear, sincere responses, so take the time to think through what you want to say.
Interview the interviewer
The interview should be a two-way street — you need to find out whether you want to work there just as much as they need to find out whether you will meet their needs as an employee. You can ask about the corporate culture, what are the biggest challenges and rewards of working there, the possibilities for advancement, and so on.
Definitely research the company beforehand so that your questions and comments seem knowledgeable. (We’ve had candidates who even forgot what job they were applying for!) Look over their website and social media pages for information about their brand image, products/services and place in their industry.
Still nervous? Practice these stress-busting techniques
As any stage performer knows, rehearsal will help you show yourself at your best on the big day. Search the internet for common interview questions and plan how you would answer them. Practice with a friend playing the role of the interviewer; they can point out things you weren’t even aware of.
Most importantly, don’t take it too seriously. It’s just one interview, after all. Even if you fail, there will be plenty more in the future. And the experience will help you be more calm and confident next time.
Remember, not getting this job could be not your fault. You could do everything right, and someone else just had more of the qualifications the employer was looking for. So don’t beat yourself up. When the job is meant to be, you’ll get it. So go into that interview room (or Zoom) and go for it!