Interviews: They can either make you or break you. For many, the mere mention of the word can be fear inducing—and for those people half the battle is already lost. What you need to remember, is that you and your dream company both want the exact same thing: a satisfied and productive member of the team. So, read on for the job-hunter’s ultimate cheat sheet. With these essential interview tips in your arsenal, you can wave goodbye to nightmarish interviews and say HELLO to your next big break!
Let’s start off with some pointers…
- Ensure your mind is well rested and you get a good night sleep the night before. If your interview occurs late in the day, take a 15-20 minute walk beforehand to purge your mind of day-to-day distractions.
- Every position has both positive and negative aspects. Recognize that both bring challenges and learning opportunities. Psych yourself up for a new experience!
- Relax! One of the worst things you can do going into an interview is to work yourself up into a ball of nerves. Remember, you have been invited to this interview because they have already decided you are a fit for this position. They want this to work out as much as you do!
- Everyone has an ego. Leave yours at home. You simply cannot know the answer to every question, so if something comes up that you’re not familiar with, it’s not the end of the world by any means. Recognize it, and accept it as a fact of life.
- Mentally review all the positive things that have occurred in your career, as well as your greatest personal accomplishments. This will remind you to think positively about yourself and your abilities, and it will help you to be more at ease.
- Be prepared to discuss the most complex project you have worked on in a similar environment. Go over the details in your mind so you can comfortably discuss the similarities.
- Mentally review the technical environment described in the job description. Be ready to relate it to your experience. Look for similarities, not differences.
- Review the chronology of your work experience. A favorite question is: “Tell me what you’ve done.” Keep your potential manager’s needs in perspective when you answer. Read my recent advice: How to Ace 3 Common Interview Questions.
- Your job is to make sure that the relevant points of your experience are covered.
- Be punctual. If you’re late, the interviewer will question your work ethic. However, if your interviewer is late, show compassion. They’re most likely very busy—or they could even be nervous themselves!
- Project a professional image. This starts with a firm handshake and a warm smile. Watch your posture; don’t slump down in your chair; don’t fidget.
- Listen to what is being said. Your answer should reflect what you have been asked. Nobody likes a rambler.
- Summarize what you have been asked in your own words before answering. This will show that you are paying attention while removing the possibility that you misunderstood the question.
- Think! Don’t be afraid to take some time over your answers. A good answer is better than a quick one.
- Never speak negatively about a prior experience or person. Keep all comments about past projects, employers, subordinates and peers positive.
- Ask intelligent questions. Stress the business application area. If a manger feels you are interested in the success or failure of the organization, they will be more inclined to want you on the team.
- Never give an indication that a task is below you. Convey the attitude of being a professional who will react in an equally positive light to all aspects of the job.
- Don’t use buzzwords or jargon. Use plain and simple layman’s terms. You could be more knowledgeable than the interviewer—and it’s a sign of intelligence to be able to explain complicated issues in a simple way.
- Use the interview to develop professional rapport. Don’t try to be over friendly but equally don’t remain aloof or standoffish. Unless instructed otherwise, avoid the use of terms such as ‘sir’, ‘ma’am’, or ‘buddy.’ If more than one person conducts the interview, make sure to address everyone.
- Many people have the tendency to minimize their skills and experience. While you shouldn’t be boastful, you should make the manager aware of the skills you have that are relevant to the role, in a factual, sincere manner. Keep in mind that you alone can sell yourself to an interviewer. Be prepared to answer typical questions like: What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?
- Make sure to conduct yourself as if you are keen to get the role!
Closing the interview
Now that you’re a bona fide interview extraordinaire, set your sights on our exciting career opportunities.
- Tell the manager that you are interested in the position. If you feel that the interview has not gone as you had hoped, don’t let your discouragement show. Sometimes an interviewer who is genuinely interested in you can act otherwise in order to test your reaction.
- End the interview on a positive note. Finish with a warm smile, firm handshake, and a positive comment (such as “I look forward to hearing from you and learning more about the team.”)
- At the end of the interview you should thank the manager for taking the time to talk with you and considering you for this opportunity.
- Don’t be disheartened if no definite commitment is made. Remember, this is a BIG company, and even if you’re not a fit for this particular group, you may be recommended for a different opportunity in the future.