6 Essential Tips to a Successful Interview
Updated: Jul 12
The task of job hunting alone is daunting, interviewing can be that much worse especially if it is for a position or company that you really want. Fear of not getting the job, saying something wrong in the interview, and more can all add to stress and anxiety. The important thing to remember is to breathe and take the daunting task one step at a time! Being confident in yourself and your abilities is essential to the interviewing process. Take the time to prepare to set yourself up for success.
Get in the Know
The worse feeling in an interview is feeling out of your depth and in the unknown. A way to feel more prepared and secure during an interview process is to simply research the company. No matter the job it is always beneficial to have a basic understanding of what the company does and what they are looking for. Visiting the website of the company, their social media platforms, and other resources will not only help you get a feel for the company you are potentially working for, but also show the future employer that you are an interested and serious candidate for the position. Intense memorization is not necessary, there will not be a quiz of when the company was founded. But having a few bullet points or interesting facts will help to have in your back pocket during the interview.
“Tell us about yourself?” is a very common interview question that is usually asked during the first few minutes. This question can be answered very professionally with a focus only on past work and leadership examples, or it can be answered by stumbling on the spot for interesting or random facts and hobbies. The perfect answer is a blend of both. An ‘elevator pitch’ is a pre-rehearsed blurb marketing yourself to someone in only a few short sentences. This pitch should include personal details that distinguish yourself from others while highlighting the background of career and leadership goals. Mentioning personal details, such as a hobby can lead the discussion about skills that are also applicable to the job. This also helps establish a personal connection between the interviewer and the interviewee. An interview is about selling yourself and your skills, a prepared ‘elevator pitch’ will show your confidence in yourself and your abilities.
During the research stage of preparations jot down one or two questions to ask. These questions can be clarification on how the company operates, how they are different from similar companies, or even a more personal question for the interviewer. ‘What do you like most about your job?’ ‘What does a typical workday look like?’ ‘Why do you like working for this company?’ Are all questions that showcase your interest in the company and lead to further discussion. Asking clarification questions about the specific position being interviewed for during the interview is also acceptable as it will further show your dedication.
Don’t wait till the last minute to scramble together your interview attire and belongings. The night before an interview set aside time to gather everything you will need. Print out at least five copies of your resume to have in case the interviewer asks for it or there are multiple people interviewing as well and store it in a plain folder to avoid crinkly paperwork. Set aside clean, and wrinkle-free interview attire to avoid a morning scramble for a clean professional shirt. Bring a notebook and a pen with your resume folder to jot down notes and questions during the interview. And last but not least, get plenty of rest the night before! A prepared, organized candidate with less work experience has the opportunity to outperform a candidate who has more work experience but is unprepared and unorganized!
Practice till Perfect
‘Practice makes perfect’ and all that, right? Well in this case, maybe not perfect but prepared. Take a glance at what you have included on your great resume, make sure that you are able to confidently explain everything you have written. Practice how you will connect your work or organization experience to the relation of the prospective job. Being caught off guard or stumped on a question from your resume can be avoided by simplifying practice different talking points that you can insert during the interview time. Practice equals preparedness.
Yes, you read that right - early NOT on time. Punctuality is extremely important for almost every single job. Being late to an interview can have a negative result, of course, there are outside forces that can one cannot control. Traffic, car issues, a scheduling mishap are all valid reasons that potential employers do not usually care about. Be sure to GPS the amount of time on average it would take you to arrive prior to the interview day. Try to arrive at the location at least 20 minutes before the interview takes place, and enter the location around 10-15 minutes before the interview. Being early shows dedication and value of punctuality, 30 minutes prior to the interview is a little too early.
An interview from a café barista position to a corporate accounting position can cause stress and anxiety. It is difficult to sell yourself and your skills if you are not accustomed to doing the task. Taking the steps to prepare and ensure a smooth interview day will ease your anxiety, increase your confidence, and lead to a more successful interview.
f you want to learn more about interviews and job hunting, check out this article: "How to Nail the Interview Process."