Interviews can be the most challenging and even the most overwhelming stage of the job search process for many job seekers. I have asked interviewers and career-search experts from across the web for what they consider to be the top tips for preparing for and acing interviews in today’s job market. While I could not include every tip from all of the experts, I have selected and compiled the best and most unique ones in this list to share with you today.
- Research the business and job ahead of time. Find out what people wear to work and dress a step up from that, because employers assume people will become more lax with time on the job and you will want them to think you are worthy of eventual advancement. Even if you are wearing a dark, power suit, wear a color close to your face (shirt, tie or scarf) that makes you look healthy and vibrant. – Barbara DesChamps, ChateauPublishing.com
- Bring paper copies of your resume. Two good reasons: The interviewer forgets or misplaces your resume. Or, you’re interviewing with several people and not everyone has a copy. – Rick Saia, PongoResume.com
- Don’t ramble or dominate the conversation. If more than half the interview is you talking, you are talking too much. Give your interviewer free rein to speak, and really listen. Don’t just use this time to plan what you’re going to say next. Truly pay attention. Truly paying attention will make you stand out, it being rarer behavior than you’d think, and is the foundation of every successful human interaction. Which is what you want your interview to be. – Karen Burns, KarenBurnsWorkingGirl.com
- Manage the nervousness. It’s easy to become overly anxious about an interview when you start to put a lot of emphasis in your own mind on how much you want this job. You become worried about your own “performance” (did I answer the questions right?), and you unconsciously signal your urgency to the interviewer. Instead, bring your curiosity, and think of the interview as a conversation and not as an interrogation. Go to the interview intent on learning as much as you can about the position, the interviewer, the company, your prospective manager, and your coworkers, so that you can assess whether this job is, in fact, a good fit for you. By shifting the spotlight in this way, the emphasis is not on having the right answer but rather on having the right questions. – Wendy Gelberg, GentleJobSearch.com
- Use body language to your advantage. Lean in slightly toward the interviewer as he or she talks. This shows you are engaged and interested in the conversation. Also, smile, but not too much. You want to show your enthusiasm for the position and the organization, but you need to be careful not to have the smile just plastered to your face. It has to be genuine! – Heather Huhman, ComeRecommend.com
- Really use your resume by referring to it and expanding on the information during the interview. For example, lets say the interviewer asks, Name an accomplishment you are most proud of you can respond by saying something like: “In the introduction of my resume, you will note I highlighted the fact that I am a sought after change agent who paves the way for smooth running organizations. To piggyback on that thought, I’d like to mention the time I reversed ABC department’s prior history of low efficiency by shifting the managers mindset from a reactionary put out fires outlook to a proactive approach.” By elaborating on a resume statement during the interview, you are providing context for your written accomplishments. – Linda Matias, 201 Knockout Answers to Tough Interview Questions
- Never be negative. Interviewers know that past behavior is indicative of future behavior, so never talk about anything negative (i.e., “I hated my boss” or “I hated the management.”). Remember, this is still an interview. Even if something was negative in your past, turn it into a positive. Let’s say you were bored in your last job, you can say, “I looked to take on additional responsibility because I was able to get my workload done in a timely manner.” – Terry Starr & Bradi Nathan, MyWorkButterfly.com
- Line up your references ahead of time and know what they are going to say about you. Don’t assume that, just because Joe Schmoe was a good ole boss to you ten years ago, that he will automatically sing your praises when called upon – out of the blue – to recommend you for a position. Always invite someone to be a reference. A first-rate initial question to a prospective reference is: “Are you familiar enough with my job performance to give me a positive reference?” If someone hesitates or is lukewarm with their response, that’s a good sign to pick someone else. You must know in advance that your references can confirm the content of your resume and speak confidently of your contributions, strengths and performance. – Jane Perdue, TheBraithewaiteGroup.com
- ALWAYS send a thank you for the interview letter to everyone that you met at the facility. I’d suggest CC’ing the secretary and everyone you talked with as well. There are some companies that will ask the receptionist if the applicant asked any questions while waiting for the interview or if the applicant treated her with respect. So, thank everyone you met, and if you got the interview through a contact, thank that person too. – Steven Freedman, TampaBayHR.com
Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this wealth of interview insight!
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