Your resume and experience might have been enough to score you a face-to-face meeting with your potential employer, but knocking it out of the park on a job interview is a whole different ballgame.
Use these five simple solutions to avoid common mistakes and have an excellent interview.
Do Your Homework
Going into an interview without researching the company first is like swimming in a pool without water. Companies and hiring managers want to see candidates that take the initiative and prepare.
Start by visiting the company website and read up on the business’ history, culture, and mission. Find out who the key executives and leaders are and make a mental note about their job histories and skills. Take note of recent company milestones or news that could potentially relate to the position your applying for.
After you’ve exhausted the information on the company website, hit social media to find out more. You will likely know who you are interviewing with well in advance of the meeting, so use that to your advantage. Find your interviewer’s profile on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to get personal insight or to find common areas of interest. You should also sign up for updates via the company’s Facebook page and Twitter accounts so you can stay in the loop about the latest developments.
Practice Makes Perfect
Although you won’t know what questions you’ll be asked until you’re in the hot seat, you can prep by practicing answers to common interview questions. Spend time in front of a mirror and play around with different styles of answering the same question. Watch for nervous gestures and try to pick up on correcting slang language right out of the gate.
Once you’ve spent time alone going through some questions, ask a friend or family member to sit down with you and go through some common questions. Try to do the mock interview in a formal setting like a home office to get a feel for what the actual interview will feel like.
Make a Good First Impression
A first impression goes a long way during the rest of the conversation. Make sure to pick out appropriate clothing for the specific job you are applying for. For jobs in financial and business fields, wear a suit and a crisp blouse or shirt. If the position you want is in a more creative field, feel free to experiment a little more with your outfit by adding an eye-catching accessory. Check all your garments before for stains, spots or holes, and make sure to iron or steam your clothing in advance of the big day. For ladies, make sure to keep your makeup light and natural looking. Once you feel put together, walk through the door with confidence, introduce yourself, smile, and deliver a firm handshake.
Tell Your Story
Make yourself stand out from other applicants by developing and honing a career story that is unique to you. Read and reread the job description and pick out key pieces of your career history that align directly with the objectives of the role you’re applying to. Spend time prior to the interview thinking about key moments in your career—times when you successfully completed a project, or moments when something in your career didn’t work out and you recovered. Pick out specific examples that relate directly to the position you are applying for and be ready to explain how that experience transitions into the open position. Be ready to pepper in some personal anecdotes to make yourself more relatable.
If you manage to make it through the gauntlet, don’t forget the important final step of following up with the hiring manager or company. Before leaving the building, ask the interviewer or recruiter about a timeline for the next steps or when they can expect to make a final decision. Within 24-48 hours, it’s a good idea to email a thank-you note to remind the company of your skills and express one more time your interest in the position. If the company gave you a timeline of a week and you still haven’t heard back, a polite phone call or email to check on the status is perfectly acceptable and shows dedication. But if you follow up twice without hearing anything back, move on and explore other opportunities to avoid becoming a nuisance.