Searching for a job is an around-the-clock task that is as rewarding as it is draining. Here are some tips that may help you score big at your next interview.
Look up some common interview questions, and practice answering them. Organize your thoughts using bulleted lists rather than full sentences to prevent an over-practiced tone. Call the employment personnel at your prospective company. You may receive further insight into what you can expect from the interview: some companies will present their interviewees with case studies or logic problems on the spot. Glean as much information about your interview beforehand.
Research the company thoroughly. Familiarize yourself with as many aspects of the business: try their products or services yourself. Contact current employees or peruse the company website.
After all this research, don’t get the company confused! If you’ve ever been on a massive job-hunt involving several companies at once, you may understand how easy it is to fall victim to this. Have all your prospective employers straight in your mind before going into the interview. Avoid overly-scripted responses that may trap you into saying the wrong company’s name as part of a memorized answer. Oh horrors!
To make yourself stand out, go the extra mile. Doing research prior to the big day can help you dress for the job. Try to find photos of company events, or go to the company in person to gauge the everyday wear of the industry. Your interview outfit should always be one step above this standard. Pay attention to the details of your outfit – check for loose strings, tiny stains, or wrinkled collars; employers will undoubtedly note your meticulousness! Clean out your purses or briefcases before the interview so you’re not pulling out gum wrappers, pens, or lipstick tubes along with your resume.
From the moment you walk in the room, pay close attention to the person’s communication style. Are they warm and receptive, asking questions and casually talking to you? Or do they get right to business in a straight-forward manner? Adapt your method of talking to fit theirs. Don’t tell personal anecdotes or crack too many jokes if your interviewer acts formally. Regardless of their style, don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer questions about themselves – their career experiences and insights about the company – at appropriate times in the interview. Make a personal connection with your interviewer.
What’s the starting salary? This is a well-known “no-no”, but it’s an important reminder nonetheless. It comes off as very presumptuous to ask the pay for a job you haven’t even gotten an offer for yet.
What’re the hours? Questions like this are not inherently bad, just make sure you don’t sound like you’ll be unable to adhere to the company’s schedule. If you ask it too directly, it may seem that you are someone who’ll be watching the time constantly, just waiting to clock-out.
What happened to the last person who had this job? Stay away from questions about your predecessors. Asking about specific people or the interviewer’s opinion on the company’s leadership, can appear gossipy and hurt your chances of scoring the position.
Do you do background checks? This shouldn’t need explanation. Asking this question makes you sound as though you have something to hide.
How did I do? Regardless of how you felt the interview went, do not put your interviewer on the spot by asking them to evaluate your performance to your face. It will make you look insecure and unpolished, and will leave a very bad impression of you in your interviewer’s mind.
Familiarize yourself with the interview location so you don’t make yourself late or stressed by getting lost. Leave early enough so that you provide yourself with a fifteen minute window of time after arriving at your destination. That way, you’ll be calm, cool, and collected even if you have to park far from the building or wait for a slow elevator. If you have extra time before your appointment, run to the restroom so you won’t have any emergencies during your interview! You can use this bathroom break to freshen up by combing your hair, checking your teeth, and straightening your outfit.
At the end of the interview, be sincere and give your interviewer your thanks. They are ultimately trying to help you get a job with their company. In addition to the in-person thanks, make sure you send the interviewer a hand-written note of gratitude. Use your nicest stationery and write carefully. If written notes aren’t your style – although we strongly recommend that you make them your style! - at the very least, send your interviewer an email follow-up. This simple act of graciousness may tilt the scales in your favor!
…How do I navigate through a business lunch or dinner??
Initially, most interviews are not conducted over lunch. When preparing for this important job search, make sure that you look your best and can verbalize effectively about what you want and what your strengths are. Also, spend some time thinking about how to correctly use your silverware, just in case you make it to the third interview. You never know if a potential employer, or a new employer, will request that you attend a simple business lunch or a company dinner at an upscale restaurant. Do you know which fork is for salad and which fork is for dessert? Do you know how to properly fold and use your napkin correctly?
Perhaps most people have faith in their common sense to guide them flawlessly through their first business dinner. But imagine how embarrassing it would be if you were the only one at the table to sit down before the dinner host, oblivious to the fact that your behavior was rude. Or perhaps you unknowingly used your own utensil to serve yourself from a dish being passed around the table. Would either one of these examples be a cause for death by hanging? No, not really, but it is not a good idea to risk making a bad impression because you are out of your element.
If you want to be calm, cool, and collected around a potential or brand new employer, you need to feel confident in any environment where business can be conducted. College graduates are accustomed to a lifestyle of fast food and relaxed social gatherings. They are not educated in dining etiquette and could risk a potential career opportunity due to poor manners. It probably feels like being thrown into the lion’s den.
Don’t allow an already intimidating situation to become a daunting or horrifying experience. Be prepared for anything. You may have no expectations of being invited to dinner where there are multiple utensils at each place. But if you are comfortable handling yourself at a five star restaurant, then certainly a more casual business lunch will be a breeze.