Job interviews are never easy, whether this is your first or your hundredth. Even for experienced professionals, interviews are nerve wracking. I once had the woman interviewing me, tell me she hated doing it and she felt just as nervous as I looked. The interviewer knows you are nervous but they are also trying to find someone perfect for the position, and it is your job to convince him or her that you are the perfect candidate.
Research the Company
It is important to know a little more about the company you are interviewing for for several reasons. First of all it’s always good to have important company information when considering a position, the last thing you want to do is show up on the first day and discover you hate working there. Secondly and most importantly, when the interviewer asks (and they will) “Do you know anything about the company?” you want to say Yes and provide some tidbits you learned through your research. This shows incentive and passion for the position you are applying for.
Prepare Ahead of Time
The day before your interview, make sure you are 100% prepared for it. Have copies of your resume printed out and in your briefcase, your outfit cleaned and ready to go, your answers to the most commonly asked questions and make sure you know where you’re going! Drive by the company at least once before your interview to make sure you know how to get there, how long the drive takes and the best places to park. Write down the name of the person who is interviewing you, and any notes you took on the company and position itself.
Be on Time
This might be the most important aspect of making a good first impression. Do not arrive late! Get there about 10-15 minutes early, but not earlier than that. You don’t want to be a burden to the interviewer who will try to change their schedule to fit you in so early, but you want to be prompt. Who knows what kind of traffic or accidents you will run into on your way, and you want to leave your house extra early to ensure you are there on time. If you take public transportation it’s a good idea to either get a ride for your interview, or take an earlier bus route and wait nearby until it is close to your interview time, you really can’t count on a bus being on time.
It may seem silly, but practicing for your interview can help you a lot. If you have answered the questions ten times (even if just to your mirror), you will feel more comfortable when your interviewer asks them.
Bring the necessary paperwork
Be prepared by having all of the necessary paperwork you may need on the day of your interview. This includes having several copies of your resume, examples of your work or portfolio, college transcripts, social security card and photo ID and references. Also keep in mind you will probably fill out another job application at your interview, so have all of your previous employers information including their address, phone number and contact person.
Bring a Pen and Notepad
A small gesture of interest, bringing a notepad shows you are prepared to take notes on information about the company or the job. It’s a nice, yet simple touch.
Dress for the Job you want
Dress for the job, not the interview. In other words, if you are applying for a job as an office professional, dress accordingly. If you know the company has a strict business dress code, wear a dark colored suit and tie, or blouse for the women. Even if the company is laid back and you know they have a casual dress code, wear a nice pair of slacks and a button-up shirt.
Make a good first impression
Your looks and your demeanor will both give off your first impression. Be dressed nice, clean and presentable. Practice good personal hygiene, be cleanly shaven and have your hair nice and tidy. You would be surprised by how many people show up to a job interview looking like they just rolled out of bed. For the women, don’t wear too much jewelry or perfume, and men easy on the cologne! Some smells bother people, so skipping the perfume or cologne altogether is a good idea.
Smile when you are greeted, shake their hands with a firm handshake and don’t sit down until they ask you to.
Less is More
The dreaded “Tell me a little about yourself” question will undoubtedly come up, so be prepared for it. You don’t want to tell too much or too little. They aren’t looking for how many dogs you have or how long you have been with your boyfriend. This question relates more towards your education and working experience that led to where you are today. If a passion in your personal life is what inspired your choice of occupation, that is definitely okay to include in your answer.
Be Enthusiastic and Confident
Don’t forget to smile! You want to convince them that not only are you prepared for this job, but you want it. You are excited about this opportunity and confident than you are the person for the job. It is really important also to listen to the entire question before you begin answering.
Convey personal confidence by maintaining eye contact with your interviewer at all times.
Try not to let your eyes wander, fidget, mess with your hair or touch your face. You want to appear relaxed, even if you aren’t.
When your interviewer asks if you have any questions, be prepared with at least one! It shows further interest in both the position and the company. Avoid asking questions involving salary or benefits, and save this question for your orientation or when a job offer is made.
Follow up your interview with a hand-written thank you note to the interviewer.
What you should never do at an interview
Flirt with your interviewer
Make excessive jokes, you want them to take you seriously!
Post anything about the job on your social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. A lot of employers are looking up the profiles of their prospective employees, so set your profiles to private!
Badmouth previous employers or companies.
Slouch, which makes you appear lazy and uninterested.
Ask the interviewer personal questions
Smoke before your interview
Chew gum during your interview
Answer your cell phone. Turn it off during the interview!
Frequently Asked Interview Questions
Tell me a little about yourself.
Why did you leave your last job?
What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
Why did you choose this career?
How well do you work with people?
What would your previous boss say about your work performance?
What makes you qualified for this position?
How would you make a contribution to this company?
Can you tell us three of your professional accomplishments?
What can you tell us about your company?
Are you willing to travel for the job?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?