The economy is in a rough place right now, despite what the media says about no longer being in a recession. None of us can afford to bomb an interview, so I thought I would share some tips and things to think about when going for a big interview.
1. Be confident, not cocky.
Your attitude can make a big difference when going for an interview. In this case, you will want to ride the fence a little. You do not want to be overconfident or act as though the position is beneath you or that you are settling for the job. At the same time, you don’t want to act like the job is a tremendous step up for you, or give the impression that you aren’t completely qualified for the job. Have your game face on, and look sharp.
2. Be prepared!
When you go into an interview, you already know that you are going to be bombarded with questions. It is hard enough to get through this portion and hope that you’re making the right impression. It is a good idea to know what you are going to say before you say it. Review common interview questions a day or two before your interview to get an idea of what you will say regarding each question. Also, be ready for tough questions regarding your past experiences, such as when you were angry, when you had to handle a tough situation, etc. Most employers want to sneak a peak at the way you have handled things in the past. Caution: This is not the time to tell them a crazy story of revenge on another coworker, or a prank you pulled, or how little your boss did. It doesn’t matter how comfortable you are during the interview, they are always, and I mean always testing you.
Another crucial part comes when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions. This is never a time to say “Nope” or to appear to be stumped. You need to be engaged and ask engaging questions. Never walk into an interview without knowing things about the company, so that you can ask intelligent questions. Interviewers want to know that you have a brain to form your own concepts and ideas, especially if you’re a graphic designer, photographer, creative director, web designer, animator, illustrator, marketing coordinator, etc. You should be asking questions that do not have yes or no answers. This second portion of the interview should be more like a conversation than a yes/no session. Research the company, know what they are about, and don’t ask questions that can be found on their web site. They will know that you haven’t done your homework, and interviewers (like most people) will be irritated after answering the same questions 75-100 times. Don’t ask about salary or benefits unless they happen to bring it up. If you are invited back for a second interview, this is usually when they open up to those type of questions.
3. Stay relevant to the position
When an interviewer asks you questions regarding your skills, your personality, your strengths, weaknesses, etc., stay relevant to the position that you are applying for. Being too general shows that you haven’t thought much about the position and you are just looking for a job. Use examples of your past experience and abilities that would make you a great candidate for the position you are applying for. Don’t be too obvious, but helping to make yourself fit their mold for a model employee will really go along way.
4. Body language
it is important to take note of your appearance as well. Dress well- suit and tie, jacket and skirt, pant suit, etc. Stand up straight and smile. Shake hands firmly and address everyone in the room. These are pretty straight forward, and I am sure that you have heard them time and time again. The next couple of things you may not have heard. Sitting with your arms folded give the message that you have something to hide, or that you are unsure or uncomfortable with yourself. Sit with your hands in your lap with an open posture. Do not rest your head on your hands or lean on anything, as this can be seen as informal or too casual. Crossing a leg is fine ( I have back problems, and during long interviews this can relieve a lot of pressure and pain), Leaning forward or slouching in your seat is also seen as informal, and can also be seen as not taking the interview seriously. Also, don’t fidget or fiddle with anything. Do not twiddle your thumbs. It is important to appear focussed, and the interviewer should feel like they have your undivided attention.
5. Send a thank you letter after the interview is over, thanking them for their time, and showing them your appreciation. This is crucial, as I know many employers that have gone with another candidate due to this issue. It is seen as inconsiderate and unprofessional.
6. Follow up a few days later with a phone call regarding the position. If they are still debating on which employee to choose, this is a gesture that shows your interest in the position and shows your determination.
I hope these things help you with your interview. Having a strong professional presence can make the difference between landing that new exciting job, or ending up in the unemployment line.