9 Tips for a Successful Job Interview

You might be an excellent candidate for a job on paper, but an interview is one of the best tests if you’re the right fit for the position and the organization. What can you do to convince the interviewer that you’re the best possible person to fill this role? Read on for nine tips that will help you ace the interview and land the job.

1) Do your research! Particularly in the age of the internet, there is no excuse to not conduct research and provide yourself with at least a basic level of background as to the company, the decision makers, the requirements of the job, and the names and positions of the people with which you will be meeting. Additionally, the more detailed your research, the better prepared you will be to ask insightful and relevant questions during your interview.

2) On the same note, it is a good idea to do a quick online search for common interview questions and then plan out how you would respond to each one, so that you are not caught off guard. While it is rare that you will be able to be 100% prepared for every question an interviewer throws your way, having firm, honest answers you are confident in for the majority of your interview will save you a lot of stress and will also be a great exercise in sharpening your communication skills.

3) Look your best! Plan a wardrobe that is in line with the company and its culture. If you are unsure, it is always best to be overdressed than underdressed for a job interview. Make sure your clothing is clean, pressed, and fits well. Keep accessories and jewelry to a minimum. . Before you go in for your interview, visit the restroom and take a look in the mirror to make sure hair is in place, your makeup looks smooth and professional, and that when you’re flashing a smile, there’s no food between your teeth. Also, make sure your breath is fresh and any perfume or cologne is subtle and not overwhelming. Get a good night’s sleep to ensure you appear well rested and refreshed.

4) Arriving on time for an interview means arriving early. Allow yourself at least 15 minutes for arrival, getting settled, filling out paperwork, mentally preparing yourself, and freshening up. Arriving early will also give you a chance to observe the dynamics of the workplace. If you are running late to an interview for any reason, ALWAYS call the company to notify them. Responsible communication is key, and while arriving on time makes a good first impression, how an applicant handles and accepts accountability for their mistakes or unforeseen challenges will also demonstrate how an applicant would handle such occurrences in the future.

5) In a sense, you are being interviewed by everyone you meet from the moment you arrive. Be polite and respectful to everyone you encounter – from the parking attendant, to the doorperson, to the receptionist to the hiring manager and beyond. Employers are often curious as to how applicants treat staff members, so it is critical that you make a good first impression with everyone and are not terse or rude to anyone you meet. Show gratitude to all who assist you and take the time to meet with you.

6) Body language says it all! Make sure you greet everyone with a firm handshake, a smile, and eye contact. Maintain good posture, demonstrate active listening skills, and remain focused. Remember, there is a reason they called you in for an interview, so show confidence and believe in yourself. Don’t be bashful. You are here to demonstrate in-person all the reasons why you would be an asset to this company.

7) It’s not what you say…it’s how you say it! Be upbeat, concise, confident, and authentic. Once the interview begins, the quality of your delivery when answering questions is key. Answer each question honestly and provide examples that showcase your skills, experiences, and accomplishments. However, avoid rambling, using jargon, and saying things just to fill any lulls in conversation . A short, to-the-point answer will achieve more than one that merely shows that you read your thesaurus an hour before the interview. And don’t badmouth former employers or colleagues – you only succeed in making yourself look  petty and vindictive. Do not meander. Keep the focus of the interview on you: your skills, what makes you an ideal candidate for the job.

8) Ask quality questions! Interviewers take extra time to allow the interviewee to ask questions in order to gage their level of interest.  This can make or break the interview. Now is not the time to ask about salary or benefits. Questions of that nature should be reserved for when an offer is made. However, you want to ask questions that are going to make you stand out. Some questions to ask that show you have done your research and also that you are genuinely interested in the company and position include: asking your interviewer why he or she came to work at the organization and what keeps him or her there, asking them to describe the typical day of someone in the position for which you are applying, asking them to describe the corporate culture, and asking how and by whom performance will be measured. Additionally, asking your interviewer to describe a current problem or challenge the company is facing will show that you have an interest in – and a potential capacity for – providing a solution, if hired.

9) Follow up. Be sure to send a thank you note or email soon after your job interview. It shows you appreciate the time the interviewer took out of his or her busy day to meet with you. If you don’t make contact after an interview, it may be interpreted as a lack of interest.  Do not be afraid to show initiative and follow up if you have not heard back within the time that was outlined. Make sure you get a business card after your interview so you have your interviewer’s direct contact information and can send a specific follow up.  Always remember, how you respond to a “no” now ultimately impacts whether a “yes” may happen later, so always maintain positive contact with the companies to which you apply.

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