Since graduation I have had my fair share of interviews and made my more than fair share of mistakes. Not getting a job due to a bad interview can feel like such a disappointment, especially if you knew you would’ve been great for the job. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from the fearful, awkward, heart-racing, dreaded job interview.
Research, Research, Research!
Due to my lack of research I once drove three and a half hours at 6:30am to what I thought was a job interview but turned out only to be a hiring company. And, due to my lack of research I turned down a position as a make-up marketer because I thoughts I was applying for a position at a TV station. Safe to say, research is so important. You not only need to know everything about the position you are applying for, whether or not it suits you, but also what the company is like, how much employees make, and the size of the company itself. All of these details are paramount before deciding to go for a job interview. Not only that, interviewers want to see people who already know what their company is and stands for. It will make you stand out if you show that you’ve done your research and prevent any awkward turn-downs and wasted car rides on your end.
Dress to Impress
It may be disheartening to hear it but the truth is looks absolutely do matter. Companies want to hire someone who is professional and the best way to present yourself this way is through your appearance. Always go for professional wear. It’s better to looked overdressed with a clean cut blazer and trousers than under dressed with sneakers or flip flops on. Don’t forget about the hair and nails. Make sure you don’t have strands of hair on your face or clothes, and its best not to have nails polished unless its clear toned or freshly manicured in a neutral/non-noticeable color. Also, a lint roller in the car is always handy. As for make-up, don’t go for anything too heavy or daring. The natural yet polished look is always best. If you’re not a pro at make-up or hair just keep it simple. And make sure to check for any lipstick on the teeth before entering the building!
Most companies will ask you the same questions. What are your greatest skills, weaknesses, and the dreaded “Tell me a little about yourself?” You should have your answers to these things memorized (but don’t make it sound scripted). Always be ready to sell yourself. I hate that saying but unfortunately it is a reality. If you really want the job you need to know exactly why you are better qualified than everyone else and prove it. There’s nothing worse than a generic answer. Like during an interview for a tutoring position I replied with, “I just think it’s great.” Before going to an interview don’t forget to be up to date with the field you are interviewing for. For example, I am trying to get a job as a magazine writer so many interviewers will ask what current events interest me and what I like to write about. I not only need to research my company but also keep a watchful eye on media and the news. Be prepared enough to seem knowledgeable and ready.
Body language is so important. When you enter the room keep your head high and have a firm hand shake. Make sure to keep eye contact even if it feels uncomfortable for you. Stuttering, taking too long for an answer, and being wishy washy in selling yourself will make you fade into the background. Be confident in yourself and your ability to succeed if hired. Even in phone interviews, make sure your not speaking too softly or quickly. Be calm, but self-assured. Basically, pretend your Beyoncé and you own this interview.
The greatest way to leave a great impression is by ending with a killer question. I so often let the question part of interviews slide which I realized was a mistake. Yes ask the questions you want to know the answers to, but also ask thought provoking and original questions that will help leave your mark. Some of these questions could include, “What qualities do you look for in an employee at your company?” or “Do you find anything lacking in my qualifications which may prevent you from considering me?”
Whether it’s in person, on skype, or over the phone job interviews can feel completely unnatural and nerve-wracking. Just make sure to be ready and confident. You only have one chance for a first impression so be sure to make it count.