Today I was thinking about some of the most common mistakes people make during the interview process. So many people have shared tips and tricks to help you secure the W, but sometimes we still come up with the L, simply because of one of these missed steps. Enjoy the cheat sheet and feel free to leave me your thoughts.
1. Conduct Research on the company and hiring manager
You should know the employer, the requirements of the job, and the background of the person (or people) interviewing you. The more research you conduct, the more you’ll understand the employer, and the better you’ll be able to answer interview questions search the organization’s website and other published materials, search engines, research tools, and ask questions about the company in your network of contacts. Learn more about job search job interview researching here.
2. Review Common Interview Questions
Another key to interview success is preparing responses to expected interview questions. First, ask the recruiter or hiring manager as to the type of interview to expect. Will it be one-on-one or a panel? Your goal is to try to determine what you’ll be asked and to compose detailed yet concise responses that focus on specific examples and accomplishments. A good tool for you to use is glassdoor.com and see what past applicants and current employees have said around interview questions. Use this to determine some talking points. There are excellent tools available to help you with interview questions and responses. Also, consider using the STAR Interviewing Technique.
3. Play the Part: Dress for the Role
Prepare an outfit that matches the organization and its culture. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Keep accessories and jewelry to a minimum. Try not to smoke or eat right before the interview and if possible, brush your teeth or use mouthwash. Do not wear perfume or cologne.
4. Arrive 15 minutes before the interview
There is no excuse ever for arriving late to an interview. Short of a disaster, strive to arrive about 15 minutes before your scheduled interview to complete additional paperwork and allow yourself time to get settled. Silence or power off your cell phone. Do not leave it on vibrate. Vibrate can be a distraction to you and the interviewer.
5. Bring Extra Resumes
Pack up extra copies of your resume and reference list. If you have a portfolio or samples of your work, bring those along too. Bring several pens and a pad of paper to jot notes.
6. Make Good First Impressions
A cardinal rule of interviewing is to be polite and offer warm greetings to everyone you meet from the parking attendant to the receptionist to the hiring manager. Make a strong first impression by dressing well (see #3), arriving early (see #4), and when greeting your interviewer, stand, smile, make eye contact, and offer a firm but not bone-crushing handshake.
Remember that having a positive attitude and expressing enthusiasm for the job and employer are vital in the initial stages of the interview; studies show that hiring managers make critical decisions about job applicants in the first 20 minutes of the interview.
6. Be Authentic, Upbeat, Focused, Confident, Candid, and Concise
Once the interview starts, the key to success is the quality and delivery of your responses. Your goal should always be authenticity, responding truthfully to interview questions. At the same time, your goal is to get to the next step, so you’ll want to provide focused responses that showcase your skills, experience, and fit with the job and the employer. Provide solid examples of solutions and accomplishments but keep your responses short and to the point. By preparing responses to common interview questions (see #2), you’ll ideally avoid long, rambling responses that bore interviewers.
7. Remember the Importance of Body Language
While the content of your interview responses is paramount, poor body language can be a distraction at best or a reason not to hire you at worst. Effective forms of body language include smiling, eye contact, solid posture, active listening, and nodding. Detrimental forms of body language include slouching, looking off in the distance, playing with a pen, fidgeting in a chair, brushing back your hair, touching your face, chewing gum, or mumbling.
8. Ask Insightful Questions
Studies continually show that employers make a judgment about an applicant’s interest in the job by whether the interviewee asks questions. Thus, even if the hiring manager was thorough in his or her discussions about the job opening and what is expected, you must ask a few questions. This shows that you have done your research and that you are curious. The smart jobseeker prepares questions to ask days before the interview, adding any additional queries that might arise from the interview.
9. Sell Yourself and then Close the Deal
The most qualified applicant is not always the one who is hired; the winning candidate is often the jobseeker who does the best job responding to interview questions and showcasing his or her fit with the job, department, and organization. Some liken the job interview to a sales call. You are the salesperson and the product you are selling to the employer is your ability to fill the organization’s needs, solve its problems, propel its success.
Finally, as the interview winds down, ask about the next steps in the process and the timetable in which the employer expects to use to decide about the position. See our article, Closing the Sale and Overcoming Objections in Job Interview.
10. Thank Interviewer(s) in Person, by Email, or Postal Mail.
Common courtesy and politeness go far in interviewing; thus, the importance of thanking each person who interviews you should come as no surprise. Start the process while at the interview, thanking each person who interviewed you before you leave. Writing thank-you emails and notes shortly after the interview will not get you the job offer, but doing so will certainly give you an edge over any of the other finalists who didn’t bother to send thank-you notes.