Here are some job interview tips that can help you interview effectively. Proper preparation will help alleviate some of the stress involved in job interviews and position you for a positive and successful interviewing experience.
Illustration by Catherine Song. © The Balance, 2018
Review the typical job interview questions employers ask, and practice your answers. Strong answers are those that are specific but concise, drawing on concrete examples that highlight your skills and back up your resume. Your answers should also emphasize the skills that are most important to the employer and relevant to the position. Be sure to review the job listing, make a list of the requirements, and match them to your experience.
Note that even the most well-prepared response will fall short if it does not answer the exact question you are being asked. While it’s important to familiarize yourself with best answers, it’s equally important to listen carefully during your interview in order to ensure your responses give the interviewer the information they are looking for.
Also, have a list of your own questions to ask the employer ready. In almost every interview, you’ll be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer. It is important to have at least one or two questions prepared in order to demonstrate your interest in the organization. Otherwise, you might come across as apathetic, which is a major turnoff for hiring managers.
In addition to indicating what you know about the company, you should also try to develop a connection with your interviewer. Know the interviewer’s name, and use it during the job interview. (If you’re not sure of the name, call and ask prior to the interview. And, listen very carefully during introductions. If you’re prone to forgetting names, jot it down somewhere discreet, like in small letters at the bottom of your notepad.)
Ultimately, building rapport and making a personal connection with your interviewercan up your chances of getting hired. People tend to hire candidates they like and who seem to be a good fit for the company’s culture.
Do your homework and research the employer and the industry, so you are ready for the interview question, “What do you know about this company?” If this question is not asked, you should try to demonstrate what you know about the company on your own.
You can do this by tying what you’ve learned about the company into your responses. For example, you might say, “I noticed that when you implemented a new software system last year, your customer satisfaction ratings improved dramatically. I am well-versed in the latest technologies from my experience with developing software at ABC, and appreciate a company who strives to be a leader in its industry.”
You should be able to find out a lot of information about the company’s history, mission and values, staff, culture, and recent successes on its website. If the company has a blog and a social media presence, they can be useful places to look, too.
Don’t wait until the last minute to pick out an interview outfit, print extra copies of your resume, or find a notepad and pen. Have one good interview outfit ready, so you can interview on short notice without having to worry about what to wear. When you have an interview lined up, get everything ready the night before.
Not only will planning out everything (from what shoes you will wear, to how you’ll style your hair, to what time you will leave and how you’ll get there) buy you time in the morning, it will also save you from having to make decisions, which means you can use that brain power for your interview.
Make sure your interview attire is neat, tidy, and appropriate for the type of firm you are interviewing with. Bring a nice portfolio with extra copies of your resume. Include a pen and paper for note-taking.
Be on time for the interview. On time means five to ten minutes early. If need be, drive to the interview location ahead of time so you know exactly where you are going and how long it will take to get there. Take into account the time of your interview so you can adjust for local traffic patterns at that time. Give yourself a few extra minutes to visit the restroom, check your outfit, and calm your nerves.
During the job interview, try to relax and stay as calm as possible. Remember that your body language says as much about you as your answers to the questions. Proper preparation will allow you to exude confidence.
As you answer questions, maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Be sure to pay attention to the question so that you don’t forget it, and listen to the entire question (using active listening) before you answer, so you know exactly what the interviewer is asking. Avoid cutting off the interviewer at all costs, especially when he or she is asking questions. If you need to take a moment to think about your answer, that’s totally fine, and is a better option than starting out with multiple “ums” or “uhs.”
Check out these tips on avoiding job interview stress to help keep your nerves calm. If the thought of a job interview puts you in panic mode, reviewing these interview tips for introverts will be a great place to start.
Always follow up with a thank-you note reiterating your interest in the position. You can also include any details you may have forgotten to mention during your interview. If you interview with multiple people from the same company, send each one a personal note. Send your thank-you email within 24 hours of your interview.