Job interviews can be an extremely stressful, and even grueling, process. If you’ve ever felt this way going into an interview, the good news is that the majority of Americans agree with you: more than 90% of U.S. adults experience fear and stress related to job interviews.
Luckily, there are ways to combat this sense of unease. Interview readiness requires special techniques before, during, and after the process to position yourself at the top of the list of candidates.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Interview preparation is a crucial step and cannot be overlooked. Prior to the interview, spend time familiarizing yourself with the company, the position, and potential interview questions.
Research, Research, Research
Understand the role in depth. Never go to an interview before you’ve acquainted yourself with the requirements of the position, including education, experience, and responsibilities.
Know your limits and needs. Before the interview, consider your capabilities for travel, long hours, and other potential “deal-breakers” related to the nature of the job. If this comes up in conversation, you’ll have thoughtful responses prepared.
Carefully research the company. Look beyond the homepage of the company website to understand the products and services they offer, any recent press coverage or company announcements, and related social media accounts. Be prepared for an interviewer to ask what you know about the company. Also, it can be helpful to research the hiring manager and find some information about him or her on LinkedIn.
Practice Makes Perfect
Be ready to talk about yourself. Many interviews open with the prompt, “So, tell me about yourself.” Without practice, this simple request can be extremely difficult for an interviewee.
Prepare stories and anecdotes. Practice recalling a few professional moments that clearly illustrate why you’re a great fit for the open position. The more comfortable you are telling these stories, the more obvious your confidence and capabilities will be.
Perform interview question drills. Search practice questions online and answer each of them out loud, which results in more natural responses than written replies.
KEY TIPS FOR DURING THE INTERVIEW
The moment of truth: the interview. Once you’ve spent time preparing, you should feel ready for the interview. But, there are still a few important aspects to keep in mind.
What to Bring to an Interview
Several copies of your resume. You may need to pass it out to more than one interviewer.
A pen and notebook. Taking down important notes during the interview is encouraged.
A list of references. While references aren’t necessary unless the interviewer asks for them, it’s always a good idea to come prepared.
Make a Good Impression
Arrive early. Give yourself a buffer of at least 10 or 15 minutes to allow for unexpected delays, such as traffic or parking troubles.
Be polite to everyone. Maintain a positive attitude and friendly demeanor to everyone from the receptionist to the interviewer.
Remember names. Ask for business cards at the beginning of the conversation, and write down names as people introduce themselves. Address the interviewer(s) by name throughout your conversation.
Stay positive. Do not criticize former employers or workplaces. Instead, emphasize the value of your experience there and focus on what you learned.
Eliminate your nervous habits. Have you ever been told you say “um” frequently? Do you tap your pen while you’re thinking? Do you touch your hair when you get nervous? Identify these habits and keep them in check during the interview.
Ask questions. At the end of the interview, it’s your opportunity to get final questions answered while demonstrating your knowledge of the organization and enthusiasm for the job. Ask, “Is there anything that you have a concern with?” If there is, answer honestly, but smartly. For example, you could say, “That’s correct, I don’t have experience in that particular area, but I have experience in x, y and z, which applies to this position because…”
Ask for the job (subtly.) End the interview telling the interviewers that you’re extremely interested in the position, and ask what the next steps are and what the interviewer’s timeline looks like.
HOW TO FOLLOW UP THE INTERVIEW
The best way to follow up after an interview is to pen a sincere thank-you note to everyone you interviewed with within 24 hours of the interview. Not only does it act as a touchpoint to remind the interviewers of you, it can jog their memories about why you’re an excellent candidate.
How to Write the Perfect Interview Thank-You Note
Make a statement of appreciation. Thank your interviewer for his or her time.
Recall the interview. Reference to at least one topic of discussion from your interview to show you were paying attention and that the conversation left an impact on you.
Show that you’re the ideal candidate. Remind the interviewer of how your qualifications meet the company’s needs and emphasize your interest in the job.
Indicate the next contact. Tell the interviewer that you look forward to speaking with him or her soon. Recall the timeline you asked about in the interview, and make mention of it in your note.
Interview for the Right Positions
Even the best interviewing tips can’t help you if you’re not looking for the right jobs. Check out our active searches to see if your perfect opportunity is included in our many openings.