Landing a job isn’t as easy as applying for one, plain and simple. Part of what makes the job hunt so discouraging is that it seems to take forever to get to the interview stage, only to discover that you weren’t picked for the job. If you want to minimize the number of times you have to experience this crushing feeling, it behooves you to learn how to ace the job interview process. Sure, knowing how to interview well might not land you every job you apply for, but it will sure up your chances.
Unfortunately, many people are terrible at interviewing. Even those who think they’ve got it down can be shockingly bad once put in the fateful chair. Luckily, we’re here to help you with a mini-guide at rocking the job interview and giving yourself the best possible chance of landing a job you love.
In the end, you’ve only got one shot with a prospective employer before they move on to greener pastures, so do everything you can to be the greenest pasture there is. Here are seven tips that will help you do just that.
#1 Perfect Your Resume
It’s no secret that a good resume is important to getting an interview, but did you know it’s also super important to performing well during the interview?
It’s true. There’s a good chance that whoever is interviewing you is different from the hiring manager or department head that put you on the list of potential candidates for the job, so they may have only taken a cursory glance at your resume before you walked into the room. Having a clean, well-formatted and impressive resume can help set the tone for your entire meeting.
Even if the content of your resume is good and a hiring manager has seen fit to overlook typos, formatting issues or overly lengthy information, your interviewer may not. Make an excellent impression by rocking that resume. And once you’ve gotten your resume absolutely as perfect as you can …
#2 … Then Memorize It
One of the most common questions that gets asked in an interview is not even a question at all. It’s “Walk me through your resume.” A potential employer sits in front of you, staring you down, waiting to hear more information.
There are a few potential pitfalls here. One, if you’ve fudged anything on your resume, you might get it wrong, so don’t do that. Two, if you tend to choke under pressure, you might not be able to answer … or might be reduced to reading off of your own resume, which is pointless. Three, if you can’t answer readily, you look ill-prepared and unfamiliar with your own history. Not good.
Luckily, assuming you’ve been honest on your resume, you can avoid all of these by memorizing your resume. That way, when someone asks you to walk them through it, you can give them a clear, concise and detailed look at your job and educational history, adding more information as you go along.
#3 Determine Your Value
Walking into an interview without an idea of what you’d like to make is a bad idea. If you answer “uuuuuuhhhhh … ” to that question, you’re going to look like a slag and get taken advantage of. Instead, do a little research. Check out job postings for roles at other companies similar to the one you’re considering. Look at sites like Indeed, Payscale and Glass Door to find out what someone in your prospective role is worth, and quote that number to your new employer when asked about salary requirements.
#4 Be Prepared for Tough Questions, and Practice
This is perhaps the most obvious piece of interview advice out there, but it’s a) still very important, and b) frequently misunderstood by jobseekers. Most people know they have to prepare for tough questions, but they only prep for generics rather than tough questions related to their own resumes.
For instance, you should worry less about “Describe a time when you had a conflict at work,” and more about “Why did you only stay at this company for four months?” Even if they ask both, the latter question is going to weight more heavily on the employer, so make sure you have a good answer to it. Now practice. With people. In front of the mirror. With your cat. Whatever. But walk through question after question out loud. It’s the only way to be sure you’re ready.
#5 Talk to Former Colleagues and Recruiters
No one knows more about the job you want than people who work in the same role at other companies, HR managers responsible for hiring for that role and recruiters who headhunt people to fill such roles.
If you want to have the best chance of landing the job, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. Getting the inside scoop on what the job entails and how your strengths play to it will help. Plus, if you know more about what you might be getting into, you’ll be better able to determine whether a job offer is for you.
#6 Dress to Kill
Forget “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” While that’s not terrible advice, the most important factor in your outfit is not whether it impresses your interviewer, but whether or not you feel comfortable in it.
No matter how impressive a candidate you are, if you’re shy, jumpy, insecure or otherwise lack confidence, your chances of landing the job decrease. And guess what makes a lot of us super insecure? Not liking the clothes we’re wearing. In fashion guru Stacy London’s book The Truth About Style, she reveals that style is important for much more than superficial reasons: because it not only reveals how we feel about our selves, it also changes how we feel about ourselves.
If you want to feel most comfortable, most impressive, most yourself in a job interview, wear clothing you love. That doesn’t mean you can’t get some impressive new duds beforehand, but make sure it:
- Fits your style
- Flatters your best features and conceals your trouble spots
- Will look good after hours of sitting (i.e. won’t develop troublesome creases or wrinkles)
- Won’t show sweat (because let’s face it, you’re probably gonna sweat)
Nail the above, and you’re likely to kill it in the interview, both because you look great, and because your confidence will shine through.
#7 Avoid Bad Habits
We’ve all got bad habits, and chances are you’ve a few that aren’t going away any time soon. Don’t we all. Unfortunately, some habits are dealbreakers. One tip you won’t find in many interview advice columns is to put a tight leash on your bad habits, no matter how hard that might be.
If you chew your nails, fine. An interviewer may or may not notice that, but it won’t cost you a job. If you chew your nails in an interview, you probably won’t hear from that company again unless you’re the world’s most impressive representative of your field. And let’s be honest, that’s not you.
So do what you have to in order to avoid picking cuticles, twisting hair, touching your face, staring out the window and other tics. Clasp your hands in your lap, look at your interviewer, smile and just deal with it. You know you can.
Interviewing isn’t always fun, but it doesn’t have to be hellish. Just follow these tips and you’ll have the confidence to answer questions readily and honestly, you’ll impress your future employer and you’ll get the job you want.