Interviewing can be intimidating, no matter how many you’ve done or how often you interview. Even if you have a job and are looking for a new one, these interview tips can help. Additionally, you can use these tips if you’re the one doing the interviewing! I’ve had the opportunity to do it all. My current job is the third I have had since graduating college in 2013. I had multiple part time jobs through high school and college. I’ve been both the interviewee and the interviewer.
12 Interview Tips to Land Your Dream Job
- You can never be overdressed. It gives a much better impression to show up overdressed than underdressed. Even if the company has seen your resume or talked to you on the phone, how you physically present yourself can say a lot. For my current job, I asked in my phone interview what proper attire for the in-person interview would be. I was told a “Barney suit”, so I showed up in a nice pair of dark jeans with a nice top.
- Do your research! This is so important. You should do your research on the company you’re interviewing for as well as the industry overall. Are there current events that relate to the industry? How long has the company been around? What is it that the company does?
- Don’t get too personal. You’d think that this doesn’t need to be said, but I’ve run into it a few times. When asked “What is your five year plan?” or “Why is it that you want this job?”, I would not recommend beginning with a very personal reason. A great answer would be something along the lines of “My five year plan is to establish myself in a career path in an industry I’m passionate about.” From there, feel free to mention settling with a family or building a foundation to begin a family. Your five year plan should not mention a wedding or planning for children. Your potential employer does not need to know that.
- Be prepared with questions for your interviewer that are NOT related to pay or benefits. There are so many great resources for possible questions you can ask your interviewer. “What is a typical day like in this office?” “Are there opportunities for advancement from this role? If so, how?” “What qualities does the ideal candidate possess for this position?” Avoid questions with a “yes” or “no” answer. If possible, relate your questions to the job listing that was posted. “I noticed that the ad stated you were looking for _______. How is that skill set applied to this position?”
- Be cognizant of current events or read a book. It always helps to brush up on current events before an interview. Perhaps they’re running a bit late, and you need to make conversation with the receptionist or one of the interviewers. Books also work in these instances as well.
- Bring multiple copies of your resume and cover letter. Even if the paperwork/email/calendar invitation says that you don’t need to bring it, you should. A lot of job applications are done online, and are accessible online, but that does not mean that your interviewer will have them in front of them. I’d prefer to read something on paper as you’re sitting in front of me than from a computer screen.
- Prepare for the standard interview questions. What’s your five year plan? What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? Chances are, these questions will come up. You should have answers prepared for them. In the interview, there will be questions you may not have prepared for, and that is when you can take a moment to collect your thoughts. If you have to pause before every question, you may seem ill-prepared.
- Bring water with you. There’s a lot of talking in an interview! That’s no secret. Bring water with you. Water also gives you an excuse to take a moment before answering one of those questions you may not be prepared for.
- Arrive comfortably early. The rule in my house growing up: “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” If you’re going somewhere unfamiliar, give yourself ample time to locate the office. There may be a parking deck or security that you need to go through. Arrive about ten minutes before your interview. Generally, this offers your interviewer enough time to wrap up whatever they may have been working on so that they can dedicate the time to your interview.
- Make eye contact and repeat names. Don’t stare at the table or look over your interviewer’s head. When they introduce themselves to you, repeat their name back to them.
- Send a “thank you” the next day. This is a dying art! Depending on your level of commitment, you can send a thank you note through the mail, or send an email if you choose. I would recommend waiting until the following day. Sending an email the same day is not likely to stick out in the interviewer’s mind.
- Be kind to all. You never know what kind of impact your actions may have on your potential hiring. Purposefully shut someone out of the elevator on your way up? They may be the one interviewing you. Scroll through your phone in the waiting room and ignore the receptionist? They may have a larger impact than you think.
Twelve interview tips seems like a lot, but it will keep you covered from start to finish in your interview process. These come from my experience on both sides of the process. As an added bonus, here are some of my favorite questions to ask an interviewee:
- What is your greatest accomplishment, professional or personal?
- With your eyes closed, walk me through how to tie my shoes.
- Are you familiar with an “elevator pitch“? (Hopefully the answer is “yes”.) Give me the elevator pitch for why we should hire you for this position.
Try out these tips the next time you’re involved in the process (on either side). Let me know if they work! I’ve definitely found success with them. Are there any things you would add to the list?