By: Ben Weiss
Job interviews may be among the most stressful events in a person’s life. Because employment indicates financial stability, status and therefore wellbeing, there is a lot of pressure for candidates to thrive in the interview process, of course making it exponentially more stressful. However, with years of experience coaching prospective candidates through this difficult time, the professionals at Infusive Solutions have the resources to navigate the tenuous waters of the interview process with poise and confidence. On that note, here is a list of tips that will help you absolutely crush your next interview and help bring you into the next stage of your professional career.
1. Prepare and then prepare more
Just like when you were getting ready for a big test in school, proper preparation is crucial for successful execution. The first step in this process is to do thorough research on the hiring firm itself. Many hiring managers will be quick to ask candidates what drew them to the company, and failing to answer this question appropriately will indicate that you’re simply looking for a job rather than the specific one you’re interviewing for.
Moreover, with social tools like LinkedIn, candidates can not only do research on the firm itself, but the hiring managers who will be conducting the interview. By engaging in this kind of personal research, candidates can find common ground with their interviewer in order to build repore, hopefully changing the nature of the correspondence from an interview to a conversation. Maybe you find that you went to the same school, that you play the same instrument, like the same sports team or come from the same home town, but regardless, identifying these little touch points will go a long way in differentiating yourself from all the other candidates.
Furthermore, with proper research comes proper questions. Candidates always want to have 3-5 thoughtful questions ready to go, which will show the hiring manager a level of preparation and enthusiasm.
2. Make sure you have thoroughly digested the job spec
This may seem obvious, but make sure that once you have landed an interview that you return to the job description and understand all of the core responsibilities the position calls for. Make sure that you know your technologies and that you can explain your experience in simple terms so that you don’t come off as condescending or arrogant. Additionally, if the job calls for skills outside of your specific experience, develop a strategy to talk about how your personal strengths would translate perfectly to the duties in question.
3. Lock down your personal aesthetics: sleep, eat, dress well
This is another one of those classic tips, but the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and having a solid meal cannot be stressed enough. You will be sharper and more alert, and better prepared to handle any curve balls thrown at you in the interview. You can also avoid the negative associations that a hiring manager may associate with having bags under your eyes.
Additionally, unless otherwise specified, make sure you have a dark, conservative suit or dress that is professional but not too flashy. That bright orange suit may have been funny for the prom, but will make you look like a jackass when you walk into a new workplace.
4. Get there early
There are several things to take into consideration here. First, plan how you’re going to get to the interview the night before. Check traffic delays, route changes and other unforeseen obstacles so that your commute goes smoothly, and you can arrive at the interview calm and collected with plenty of time to spare rather than rushing into the interview and frantically organizing yourself. This also means giving yourself double the travel time you think you’ll need so that you can navigate any unforeseen circumstances without being tardy.
Also, by arriving early, you give yourself time to optimize your appearance. Take five minutes to use the restroom, wash your hands, fix your tie and wipe that leftover cream cheese off the side of your lip. Remember that providing a clammy hand for your interviewer to shake is not the best way to make your first impression.
5. Observe the environment
When you arrive at an interview early, not only do you have time to collect yourself and make sure you look professional, but you can take in your surroundings. For example, take a moment to analyze the employees on the floor. Does everyone look miserable? Are people chatting? Working individually or in groups? These observations can provide invaluable insight into the company’s corporate culture so you can begin to evaluate if you would be comfortable in that environment.
6. Be confident, not cocky
Once you get into the belly of the beast, you want to make sure that you present yourself as confident and comfortable without ever forgoing a certain professional distance. With that in mind, give a firm handshake, always have good eye contact, smile and provide detailed answers using an accessible vocabulary. Additionally, never check your watch or cell phone. While it may seem innocent, a candidate who is brazen enough to show boredom during an interview might exhibit any number of other problems down the road.
Furthermore, while it may be fruitful to provide appropriate anecdotes, you never want to let your guard too far down. For example, a candidate once told a hiring manager we worked with that he was from Queens, New York. When the hiring manager expressed familiarity with the area, the candidate became too comfortable, dropping his professional tone and using phraseology like, “let me break it down for you playa.” Needless to say, once the professionalism was dropped, so were his chances at getting the job.
Make sure to maintain that distance until after the offer letter has been signed, and even then, you’ll want to really test the waters before addressing colleagues like you would friends.
7. Turn the tables
As stressed earlier, having questions prepared is one of the most important parts of the process. For example, ask a hiring manager why it is that he or she loves coming to work every day. Better yet, inquire about the company’s corporate culture and why it has developed in a particular direction. Questions of this nature not only allow hiring managers to talk more about themselves, which everyone loves, but will suggest that a candidate is trying to learn whether his or her values and personality align with the company’s. This is another key strategy in showing the hiring manager that you’re trying to envision yourself in that specific position rather than trying to land the first gig that’s offered.
8. Leave a positive impression
Whether you think that you rocked the interview or bombed it completely, make sure that you leave with your head held high. Ask your interviewer for his or her business card, thank him or her for their time and say goodbye to everyone you intersected with on the way out. Some interviewers will intentionally make the process difficult for the candidate in order to see how he or she reacts under pressure, so keeping your cool from start to finish will suggest an ability to handle stress with grace.
Other than that, be sure to send the hiring agency a brief follow up letter to say thank you one more time and remind the company of your qualifications and interest in the position. If all else fails, then you’ve gotten some great practice that will better prepare you for next time.