Top 10 Job Interview Tips

Most people feel pressured when they’re interviewing for a job; you know, sweaty palms, increased heart rate, fidgeting. It happens to all of us at one point or another.  However there are tips that will help you get through an interview at least appearing to be calm and collected.  These top 10 tips will help you cover everything you need to know to successfully ace your next job interview.

1.     Check Out the Company

Don’t get caught unprepared.  Learn as much as you can about the company before the job interview. Being well prepared means you will be able to answer interview questions as well as ask the interviewer questions to find out if you and the company and its culture are a good fit.

Take the time, in advance, to search the Internet to discover as much information as you can about the company, its products, management and culture. This means going to their corporate websites, Linked In, Facebook and Wikipedia. General searches will also uncover interesting links that can reveal what the corporate culture is.

You also want to tap into your network to see who you know that can help give you an interview edge over the other candidates by revealing something important and timely. Be careful if you have access to current employees that they don’t reveal confidential or sensitive information.

You can determine the corporate culture by the look and feel of the website, how much information is online, the company mission statement and its history, products and services, management team and hiring processes. Many companies will have (multiple) blogs and some will have Twitter and Facebook pages. Because you need to be efficient in your research, you want to make sure you cover a general overview for the first interview and then go deeper if you are called back for subsequent interviews.

2.     Practice Interviewing

Taking the time to review typical interview questions you will probably be asked during a job interview will help give you a framework for your responses and will help calm your frazzled nerves. With practice, you won’t be scrambling for an answer while you’re in the interview hot seat. Ask a friend or family member to help you, it’s one of the best investments you can make.

When you’re practicing, it’s not about memorizing answers, but having the main points at the top of your mind so that under stress, you can (1) remember the point and (2) present it logically and articulately. When stressed, many people speak too fast and their thoughts can’t keep up which provides for bungled answers that under non-stressed circumstances would be completely different.

The interviewer knows you’re nervous, but he or she wants to hire someone who’s confident – the best person for the job. If you’re all over the place with your answers, you risk making a bad first impression.

3.     Improve Your Interview Technique

A job interview gives you a chance to shine.  What you say and what you do is going to either move you to the next round of consideration for employment or knock you out of contention.  It doesn’t take much to make an impression – good or bad.  If you haven’t taken time to dress appropriately or if you say the “wrong” thing, it will be over.

Take the time to prepare your interview technique including knowing what’s on your resume, being able to present why you are qualified for the job, why you’re interested in the company, and practicing staying calm and focused.  It’s important to remember that the image the interviewer has of you when he first meets you is the one that is going to last.

Recruiters and employers have been surprised when applicants weren’t able to recollect the dates of previous employment or what they actually did on a day-to-day basis in the specific roles.  Review your work history – and make sure what you say matches what’s on your resume.

The more facts, figures and outcomes you can summarise, the better. The interviewer has read or at least skimmed your resume. Your task is to embellish (without lying or exaggerating) with anecdotes and supplementary information.

What you don’t say can – and will – be used against you in a job interview.  If you go to an interview chewing gum or drinking coffee, you will already have one strike against you.  Too much perfume or not enough deodorant won’t help either.  Not being dressed appropriately or having scuffed shoes will give you a another strike.  Talking, or texting on your cell phone, or listening to an iPod while waiting to be called for the interview may be another final strike and you could be done with your candidacy before you even say a word.

Your verbal communications are important.  Don’t use slang.  Speak clearly and definitively.  If you need to think about a response to an interview question, that’s fine.  It’s better to think before you talk than to stumble over your words.

It can be easy to get distracted during a job interview. It’s stressful and you’re in the hot seat when it comes to having to respond to questions. That said, if you do your best to listen to what the interviewer is asking, it will be easier to frame appropriate responses.

What you don’t say during an interview is as important as what you do say. What is important is to appear professional and attentive throughout the interview process.

4.     Dress for Interview Success

The first impression you make on a potential employer can make a big difference. The first judgment an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing. That’s why it’s always important to dress professionally for a job interview.

Make sure you go into the job interview having showered and wearing clean clothes.  If you like wearing cologne or perfume, don’t wear any on the day of the interview.  What might be subtle smelling to you, may probably be overwhelming to your interviewer.

At a job interview, proper etiquette dictates that your manner of dress should fit in with the scene around you, but to show your respect for the occasion you need to dress just a step above the norm of that environment.  The reason is because inappropriate business attire creates an unacceptable distraction.  The focus should be on you and your skills, your clothes shouldn’t be stealing the show.

Just because your job interview is scheduled on casual Friday, doesn’t mean that you can show up in jeans and an untucked shirt.  Regardless of the job you’re applying for, it’s important to dress for success. Conversely, it’s also important not to overdress.  Waltzing into your job interview looking like the Monopoly Man may make your prospective employer think that you’re failing to take the process seriously. Play it safe and consider these examples: if everyone at the workplace wears jeans and T-shirts, wear slacks and a long-sleeved button-down shirt.  If they’re in slacks and button-down shirts, wear a coat and consider a tie.

5.     Be on Time

There is no excuse for being late, none!  You don’t want a your interviewer to be annoyed before the interview even starts; so do whatever it takes to be on time.  Blaming the traffic or anything else doesn’t matter (even if it’s true).

A job interview isn’t a party, so arriving casually late won’t score you any points.  Like anyone at work, your interviewer is most likely in the midst of a busy workday, so show them their time is valuable to you.  After all, aren’t they showing you that same respect with this chance to come in and present yourself?

Being late tells others that you’re self-centered, disorganized, rude or all three. Make sure you show up at least 10-15 minutes in advance and notify reception upon your arrival.

6.     Present a Positive Personal Image

During the job interview countless moments will come up when etiquette is required.  Getting them right gives you a confidence that will be visible to your interviewer.  Look your interviewer in the eye; it’s a positive gesture to which people always respond positively.  Anything else is simply rude.

Use engaging language.  When answering a question, answer the question.  Make sure your answer directly reflects the question being asked. Too many interviewees give rehearsed ‘stock answers’. When that happens, a interviewer will often cut the interview short ending your chances for advancement.

Good straight posture alone can convey your interest in being there, while slouching conveys disrespect and indifference.

Use your interviewer,s name; it proves you’re involved and listening.  It also helps establish rapport. Decide to use the first or last name based on the rapport he or she has established with you – follow the lead given, don’t take it on your own. If you’re unsure, ask “May I call you John or do you prefer Mr Smith?”

Don’t make jokes; too many people think they’re funny when in reality they’re not.  A job interview isn’t the place for that.  Be friendly and outgoing, save the jokes for your celebration with your friends and family when you get the job.

Don’t badmouth a previous boss or colleague.  That’s a huge negative; they may have been the worst boss or colleague in the world but expressing that in a job interview is never a good idea. That’s why practicing your response to difficult questions is so important.

Have goals.  Maybe you don’t have any idea where you want to be in the next few years professionally but figure out something to say. If you don’t and you’re asked, you’ll appear as lacking focus and ambition, which may lead an interviewer to think that you’d be a lazy employee.

Be prepared to talk about one of your proud accomplishments. It can be a professional, personal or athletic award. Don’t forget people hire people and they want to know more about who you are.

7.     Smile

Seasoned interviewers can smell fear.  They can also see your palms sweating as you keep rubbing them against your skirt or pants.

If you’re prepared for the job interview, you’ve done your due diligence, you’re looking sharp, then take three silent breaths, put out your hand confidently and smile.  Really smile.  You’ll feel the fear melt away.

The key: if you smile your fear muscles can’t work!

8.     Ask Questions

Asking the right questions during a job interview is almost as important as giving good answers.  The questions you ask will show your level of interest in the job.  Not asking good questions suggests a lack of interest (and poor research).

For example, you can ask about the challenges of the job, what are likely to be the projects you will be working on, what skills you will need to develop once in the role and what future positions might be available beyond this position.

Ask for details related to the job or role. Who will you be reporting to? Who are the other team members you will be working with? What are the goals or targets of the department you will be working in?

9.     Don’t Discuss Money

Until you’ve been offered the job, it’s often best to defer all discussions relating to money.  Ideally, a job interview will focus on whether you’re right for the position.  It’s not uncommon though for interviewers to bring up money so be ready to handle the question.

When you’re asked for salary history, tell the interviewer you’d rather not discuss it at this time.  If asked what salary you expect you can explain that you are looking for a good fit with opportunities for advancement. If you name a figure at this point, you might either price yourself out of the job if your figure is too high, or unnecessary limit your negotiating position if you name a lower figure.

Tell your interviewer that you would be happy to talk about the salary after a job offer is made.

10.  Take the Time to Say Thank You

Taking the time to say thank you after a job interview not only is good interview etiquette, it reinforces your interest in the position.  Use your thank you letter, as well, to address any issues and concerns that came up during the interview.

You can also consider your thank you as a follow-up opportunity.  Restate why you want the job, what your qualifications are, how you might make contributions to the organization, and so on.

Your thank you letter is also the perfect opportunity to discuss anything of importance that you didn’t answer as thoroughly as you would have liked during the job interview.  It reinforces your interest in the job.  It doesn’t need to be long, just make it sincere.  A couple of brief paragraphs are more than enough.

If you don’t hear back from them when you expect to, call and inquire.  Sometimes the process takes longer than expected.  Your call shows you’re interested and raises your name again.

There you have it.  The top 10 best job interview tips you’ll ever get.  Stick to them and you’ll be on your way to getting hired!

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