Interview Tips to Help You Get Hired

You’ve submitted your cover letter and resume and received an invitation to interview for that job you really want. Next, you need to nail the job interview to get the job offer. Here are some job interviewing tips that will help you succeed.

Prepare Your Answers to Common Interview Questions

Think about the questions the interviewer will likely ask (“where do you see yourself in 3–5 years?” is common) and prepare your responses. If you were the hiring manager, what would you ask? Compose responses that are concise, and focus on specific examples and achievements. It’s best not to memorize your answers, nor should you have a sheet of paper to read from. Instead, respond with an engaging story that you can tell during the interview. A short story that conveys your skills, talents and work ethic can help paint a mental picture to the interviewers much better than a simple “yes” or “no” answer.

Dress for Success

Dress as professionally as possible while keeping the organization and its culture in mind. If the organization typically dresses in jeans and sweatshirts, a three piece suite may be overkill and send the message you don’t fit in. The opposite is true — showing up in jeans with a dress shirt in a professional environment may convey nonconformity. However, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Wear clothes that fit and are clean and pressed, and minimize accessories and jewelry. I recommend doing some research on the company attire before you even apply. Do your best not to smoke or eat immediately before the interview. If you do eat, stay away from offensive foods like onions or garlic.

Be Punctual and Prepared for the Interview

This is important — plan on arriving 15 minutes before the scheduled start of your interview. Being early will allow you to get settled and observe the workplace dynamics. Being late for your interview will almost certainly kill your chances of being hired. Afterall, if you can’t be on time for your interview, what will it be like if you’re hired? I strongly recommend mapping out your route (do a test run if you can) to the exact location of your interview — right down to the correct building, lobby or meeting area. You want to avoid getting lost and being late at all costs.

Before the interview, conduct research on the company by reviewing its website, internet articles written about it, and other published materials. Read background information about your interviewer if you know who that person will be. It is highly likely that the interviewers will ask you questions pertaining to the company. Being prepared and well informed will improve your chances of being hired. Over the years, I have been amazed how often applicants didn’t even take the time to review the company website. Bring extra copies of your resume and reference list, and organize your portfolio or samples of work if you have them.

Make a Good First Impression

Be polite and warmly greet everyone you meet, whether it’s the receptionist or the hiring manager. Some employers observe how you interact with staff members and will be turned off if you’re rude to the company’s current employees. I’ve even read examples of companies conducting their interviews in restaurants to examine how the applicant treats the servers. You’ll be working with other people and managers don’t enjoy employee conflict or drama so treat everyone with respect and dignity. Stand, smile, make eye contact and offer a firm handshake when greeting your interviewer. This initial gesture is key to demonstrating your confidence (not arrogance) and enthusiasm for the opportunity.

Be Yourself

Respond truthfully to all interview question while being authentic and upbeat. Your goal is to provide concise responses that showcase your skills and experience. Be sure to provide solid examples of solutions and accomplishments. If possible, craft your responses so they fit with the job and employer. Avoid saying anything negative about a previous or current employer, manager or co-worker.

I can’t speak for all employers, but for me, I’ve always hired based on the applicant’s personality and how well I felt they would fit within the culture. Skills can be taught, but traits and character are hard-wired.

Ask Insightful Questions

Studies show that hiring managers determine an applicant’s interest in the job by whether or not they ask questions. Before the day of your interview, think about questions to ask using the research you’ve done. Because the interviewer may share information that answers some of your questions during the interview, it’s important to have several questions prepared. The questions you ask should convey your interest in the company and your desire to grow and succeed.

Close the Deal

As the interview comes to a close, ask about any next steps in the hiring process and when the hiring manager expects to make a decision. Thank each person who interviewed you as you leave, and follow up with at least an email sent that same day.

Pro tip: I would highly recommend preparing a handwritten card (for each interview) ahead of time, leaving space to customize, and carry them with you. Once your interview is complete, you can fill in names and some points from the interview and drop them into the mail once you leave. This one action makes a big difference and many other applicants don’t even bother with a follow up email.

The most qualified applicant isn’t always the person who gets the job. Usually, the successful candidate is the one most prepared for the interview and who best answers the questions to showcase his or her abilities and fit with the job and company. Remember the tips above to help you become the winning candidate for that position you really want.

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