You can never underestimate the benefits of having an outstanding job interview, but in this economy, it is crucial you are on top of your game. I spoke with a hiring manager just two weeks ago who said when she posts a new job, she is flooded with twice as many resumes as normal. With those ratios, it is not even possible to interview all of the qualified candidates. If you are blessed enough to have landed an interview in this economy, then use this opportunity to really set yourself apart from the other candidates.
I have listed a few of my favorite interview tips below.
Be an actor. Even if you aren’t interviewing for a role on your favorite sitcom, you can still use your skills from drama class during your next interview. See, sometimes our ego gets in the way of what we want to do and say during an interview. Simply pretend that you are an actor playing yourself and it will be easier to say what you want to say. Never play someone else, though (always be yourself); just play the best you that you can be. This trick will make you less nervous, and you will be able to project yourself in a way that you may otherwise make you too self-conscious.
Do you have any questions? Anyone who has been on an interview has probably heard this dreaded question when the interview comes to an end. It is smart to take a notebook with you filled with questions for your interviewer. Ask something, and never say no. Brainstorm and come up with some quality questions (never ask about pay unless they bring it up). Chances are though that a good interviewer will have already asked any question you have come up with, so what should you ask?
My favorite question to come back with, especially for a sales position, is, “Based on this interview, is there any reason I wouldn’t get this position?” This is a bold question, I know, but be bold if you are interviewing for a sales position. This will show the interviewer that you will not be afraid to “seal the deal” when you are in the field on a sales call.
If you aren’t interviewing for a sales position, then you may want to word the question a little differently: “After meeting with me today, do you have any concerns as to why I may not be a good fit for this position?” Any way you word this question, you are giving yourself a chance to address the interviewer’s concerns that you otherwise may never have been aware of. Be prepared, because the interviewer will tell you their concerns, trust me. Whatever he/she says, take the opportunity to spin it into a positive and make it a non-issue.
For instance, if an interviewer says that you don’t know the software that they use, then you could reiterate that you are a fast learner and then give an example of a situation in a past job that validates your statement. This is so great because interviewers almost always ask this question last, so the final thing that they hear from you is something positive that has eliminated their concerns about you. Re-word this question to make it yours and practice asking it so it flows naturally. Also write it down in your trusty notebook for reference during the interview.
Use technology. These days you can find out almost anything about a company online. Do your research and know as much as you can before your interview.
List the five most important things you want the interviewer to know about you. During an interview, most people try to squeeze in dozens of good things about themselves. Interviewers cannot possibly remember all of this information. Prepare for an interview by listing the five most crucial things you want to get across during your interview. Under each topic, write down examples and situations that support them. For instance, if one of your topics is organization, then list examples proving you were organized in your last position.
Keep your list in your notebook during your interview. Each time the interviewer asks you a question, pick which topic is best suited to that question. After that, if you use the same topic again, take it a step further by using one of your other examples. This reiteration of the same five things sticks in the interviewer’s mind. The chances that the interviewer will remember the most important things about you is greater using the repetition method than if you keep throwing out dozens of different characteristics.
Now for the classics that should never be overlooked.
Bring a few copies of your resume. Print several copies of your resume on linen resume paper so that the interviewer (and anyone else in the room) has a copy in front of them. Give them copies even if they don’t ask. For job seeking purposes, you are only as good as you look on paper. Get several people to proofread your resume and seek professional help if needed.
Dress appropriately. Guidelines vary somewhat depending on the city and industry you are in, but it never hurts to dress a notch above what is standard. A clean, crisp, black suit is always in fashion. Ladies remember: no open-toed shoes, and always wear nude panty hose if you are wearing a skirt (pack an extra pair in your purse for emergencies, because runs are unacceptable). A simple black briefcase or bag will suffice; just make sure you don’t have a bulky purse or several bags; this can make you look sloppy.
Be organized. Always have at least two working pens and have your belongings placed neatly in your bag where you can find what you need instantly. Have a professional-looking notebook that has notes of what you want to say. Also have your notebook out and make notes about what the interviewer is telling you during the interview.
Be on time, be on time, and be on time! Stake out the location of your interview the day before so you know where you are going. Allow yourself an extra thirty minutes to an hour to allow for traffic or unplanned events. If you are there an hour early, then sit in your car, or grab a coffee nearby and read over your notes.
You can never be over-prepared for an interview, so do your research and get a friend to ask you mock questions. Reading a few books on the latest interview trends never hurts either. Remember, you want to set yourself apart from the other candidates without “standing out like a sore thumb.” Good luck!
Brandi Hamrick, Life Coach