Whether you’re coming back into the workforce after you’ve lost your job or you’re looking ahead to your first interview, there’s no denying that a smooth job interview is a difficult undertaking. You’re expected to extol your virtues to a scary degree, playing down your weaknesses and explaining why a company should hire you. It’s not easy, but we’re here to help. Here are ten of our best tips to ensure that you have a smooth job interview.
The worst thing you can do in a job interview is panic. It’ll immediately become apparent to your interviewers that you’re not capable of handling the situation, and although they may be nice and forgiving people, there’s no way to guarantee that. Before your interview, do whatever you can to relax. Music can also help, as can simply sitting in silence for a few minutes to gather your thoughts. Just don’t let yourself panic if you can help it.
2. Dress to impress
Pretty much all job interviews require a smart dress code, but not all of them do. You can asked to dress smart casual or perhaps even casually at a job interview. Whatever the dress code is, make sure you’re following it because you need to make a positive first impression. Wear the best clothing you have that adheres to the dress code. Don’t dig out a suit that’s moth-eaten and badly maintained. It may sound obvious to you, but you’d be surprised how many people break this basic rule.
3. Do your research
Before going for your job interview, it’s definitely a good idea to extensively research the company you’re going to interview for. Showing up with a lot of knowledge about the company demonstrates initiative and shows that you’re interested in working there. You don’t need to regurgitate endless facts; just get a feel for what the company does, why you think you’d fit in well there, and what you’d bring to the company ethos if they hired you.
4. Have some questions on hand
“Is there anything you’d like to ask us?” This is a question you’re definitely going to be asked at your job interview, so having an answer ready – that is to say, having a list of questions you can draw from – is a great way to stay prepared. You won’t necessarily need to ask all of them; the interviewer will likely answer some of them as the interview goes on. If there’s anything at the end of the interview that you need to know, be sure to ask – it looks great if you’re interested.
5. Practice the interview
If you can, try to enlist the help of friends or family members to help you practice for interview. First, let them take the role of the interviewer and practice answering questions you might expect the interviewer to ask. Your family and friends should be able to help you understand where you need improvement and where your strength lies. If you can, try to take on the role of the interviewer next and see if you can think of anything they might ask that hasn’t been thought of already.
6. Use good communication skills
While you’re being interviewed, it’s imperative to practice good communication skills. This means listening as much as possible, talking during natural conversational interludes (not interrupting), and making what you say as relevant to the interviewer’s last comment or question as possible. Bad communication skills will make you look like you either don’t care about the position or aren’t observing the proper chain of superiority.
7. Be formal – but not too formal
We’re not necessarily talking about dress code here, but rather your demeanor as a whole. While being formal is a good idea – this is a business setting, after all – you don’t need to be stiff and rigid. The best interviewees are calm, relaxed, and confident; they’re in command of their emotions and their body language, and although they look competent and ready for success, they’re not stressed out. Try to emulate this behavior as much as you can.
8. Don’t be arrogant
There’s nothing that’s a bigger turn-off for a job interviewer than arrogance. You should seem calm and collected, but not conceited or self-absorbed. When an interviewer asks you for your biggest weakness, they don’t want to hear “I care too much” or “I’m just too much of a hard worker”. They want to hear a genuine weakness that rounds you out as a person. Similarly, when they ask for a personal strength, although you shouldn’t temper it too much, make sure not to sing your own praises too loudly.
9. Avoid desperation
Even if you are actually desperate to work at the company you’re interviewing for, it pays not to appear desprate you should exude the aura of someone who wants to work at the company but whose life won’t be over if the opportunity should fall through. No company wants to hire a desperate employee; emotions ideally shouldn’t really come into it, at least not at this stage. Keep things calm, professional, and straightforward, and you’re destined for success.
10. Be yourself
Don’t spend your entire interview constructing a persona and pretending to be someone you’re not. Employers will see through this ruse immediately, and even if they don’t, it will become apparent when you actually start working that you’re not who you said you were at interview. Let your natural personality shine through; if you’re a good fit for the company then you should show them that, and if not, perhaps this isn’t the right place for you to work anyway.