Interviewing is a skill, and like any skill, it can be taught and learned. Some people are naturally confident or naturally good speakers, but everybody can learn how to communicate their strengths effectively and how to make a good first impression. If you follow these simple rules, you’ll be able to ace any job interview that happens to come your way.
Whether you’re interviewing to become the next CEO of a major corporation, or you want to work as a waiter at a local restaurant, these tips can help you win over just about anybody.
The Interview Starts As Soon As You Walk Through The Door
Everybody you meet while you are at the location of your job interview could potentially be evaluating you on your performance. Make sure you are nice and friendly to every secretary, assistant, and delivery person you meet. These people are often asked to report back to the interviewer about how you behaved while you were waiting for the interview to officially begin.
Sometimes secretaries have the power to completely veto a job candidate.
Control The Vibe Of The Room
When it comes to interviewing, there is so much that is out of your control. Studies have shown that interviewers tend to see candidates more favorably if the weather is nice that day or if they had a good lunch.
You can’t control the weather, but you can control your mood. If you are happy, upbeat, and energetic throughout the interview, that mood will be contagious and your interviewers will be happy and upbeat as well.
Don’t Blame Anybody Else
Some of the tougher interview questions often require you to recount a time when you dealt with a conflict. Whenever you are discussing a conflict, make sure that you never blame other people for failures or lapses in communication. Blame the conflict on the situation, or on faulty technology.
You could even take accountability for the conflict yourself and then show how you’ve grown and learned from the experience.
Arrive On Time, And Plan Your Route In Advance
Never, ever, ever be late to a job interview. Why would an employer trust you to show up on time for work if you can’t even show up on time to an interview? If your interview is in a building you’ve never been to before, make sure you map out the directions the day before.
Have an idea of how long you’re going to be in traffic and figure out which entrance of the building is the closest to where you need to be.
Answer Interview Questions With A Goal In Mind
Even though some of the interview questions you will be asked may seem obscure, the interviewer is asking them for a reason. Your job is to figure out the subtext behind the question. What is the interviewer trying to find out about you from your answer? Most of the time, they’re trying to figure out if you would be a good at the job you’re applying for and if you would be a good fit at the company.
When you answer a question about what ice cream flavor you would be or what your biggest weakness is, bring your answer back to why you would be a good employee.
It’s OK To Take A Minute To Think
If you get asked a question that you’re really not prepared for (or even if you are prepared and you just need a minute to collect your thoughts) it’s totally OK to say, “can I have a moment to think about that?”
Taking your time to think is much better than buying time by talking a bunch of nonsense. You can also ask your interviewer to repeat the question if any part of the question is unclear to you.
Have Some Answers Prepared
While you definitely don’t want to sound overly rehearsed or robotic during a job interview, it’s a good idea to prepare answers for basic questions like “tell me about yourself?” or “why do you want to work here?”
These aren’t questions you want to be stumbling over. They’re very likely to come up toward the beginning of the interview and you definitely want to make a good first impression.
Do Your Research
The easiest way to impress your potential employers is to do some research on the company you’re applying to prior to the interview. Read articles written about the company, ask people in the industry how they feel about the company, and find out more about the company’s mission statement.
Your interviewer will be impressed with your knowledge and you’ll also have a better idea of how to tailor your answers to the company’s goals.
Prepare Some Questions To Ask Your Interviewers
At the end of an interview, your interviewer will usually ask if you have any questions for them. When you’re asked that question, it’s never a good idea to say something like, “no, I’m good, I think we’re done here.” Having a few good questions prepared shows that you have a genuine interest in the company.
Ask questions that can’t be answered with a simple google search. You might also want to ask about the company’s future plans and goals.
Be Ready To Handle Illegal And Inappropriate Questions
There are several questions that an interviewer is not legally allowed to ask. Basically, they can’t ask anything about your race, age, gender, religion, marital status, family plans, or sexual orientation.
You are not required to answer an illegal question, but if one does come up, avoid the question in a courteous manner. You can say something like, “I don’t know whether I’ll decide to have children in the near future, but if you’re wondering if I’ll be leaving my job for an extended period of time, I can say that I’m very committed to my career and I can’t imagine giving it up.”
Even though it’s tempting to embellish your stories and accomplishments in an interview setting, you should never tell any outright lies. The reason for this rule simple: if you get caught in a lie, you have pretty much guaranteed that you won’t be getting that job.
Getting caught in a lie is all too easy, so it’s much better just to eliminate any risk and avoid lying altogether. Tell the truth.
Don’t dwell on negative experiences during an interview. If you’re asked about a time that you failed or if you need to state what your biggest weakness is, give a straightforward answer.
Balance that answer with the positives you took away from that negative experience, what you learned from the failure, and how you’ve managed to succeed at similar tasks following the incident. Another tip: it’s important to always end your answers on a positive note.
Bring A Copy Of Your Resume To Every Interview
While your interviewer should bring a printed out copy of your resume to the interview (if you’ve sent them a resume in advance) it’s a good idea to bring a copy yourself just in case the interviewer forgot.
If the interviewer forgot to bring a copy of your resume, you’ll be able to pull your copy out of your bag and save your interviewer a lot of time and embarrassment. You’ll get bonus points for being prepared and for helping out your interviewer.
Make The Most Out Of The “Tell Me About Yourself” Question
This question is a great opportunity for you to decide what you want to focus on for the rest of the interview. Use it as an opportunity to show that you’d be a great fit for the company. Talk about what qualities somebody applying for your desired job should have, and then show the interviewer how you have all of those qualities using specific examples.
You can throw in a few fun personal details, but don’t spend too much time talking about how many siblings you have or what kind of pets you had when you were a kid.
Dress For The Job You Want
Show up to an interview looking sharp. You really can’t be overdressed for a job interview. Wear something that looks professional and that doesn’t distract from the points you will be making during the interview.
Make sure your clothes are ironed, clean, and stain-free. Don’t wear anything heavily scented and don’t wear anything too uncomfortable. Your interviewer will appreciate the effort that went in to looking extra professional.
Stand Out From The Crowd
Your potential employer is likely interviewing a lot of candidates, so you need to set yourself apart from everyone else. If there is something on your resume that is especially unique, you should definitely bring that up towards the beginning of the interview (in your “tell me about yourself” answer would be the most appropriate time).
If you can say you’ve done something that none of the other candidates have done, and you can prove why that thing would make you an ideal employee, you can make yourself stand out in a really good way.
Turn The Interview Into A Conversation
The more comfortable you are in an interview setting, the more comfortable your interviewer will feel. The interview structure doesn’t have to be a static question and answer format. It can be a dynamic conversation that’s engaging for both you and the interviewer.
If you can find an opportunity to ask your interviewer friendly and thoughtful questions during the interview, you should definitely do that. It makes the whole experience feel less one-sided and more enjoyable for everybody involved.
Show, Don’t Tell
“Show don’t tell” is a creative writing principle, but it can be applied to interviews as well. Basically you don’t want to just tell your interviewer that you’re a hard worker or that you’re a good leader, you want to tell them about a time that you worked hard or displayed good leadership skills.
Tell a story using the S.T.A.R. method (situation, task, action, result). Prove that you’re a good employee, don’t just expect your interviewer to take your word for it.
Tell Jokes If You Can
Making people laugh during an interview is a great way to diffuse tension and make people like you. People like people who can make them laugh. Throwing a joke into your answer every now and then is a great interview tactic.
Don’t be afraid to show your personality and inject the room with a little bit of fun. Your jokes should never be mean-spirited and they should never be at anybody else’s expense.
Flip The Script In Your Brain
A lot of people get really nervous in an interview setting because they feel like they’re being put on the spot or that they’re being judged. If you often feel this way, think of the interview as an opportunity for you to decide if this company is a good fit for you.
Approach the situation as though you are interviewing your potential employers and imagine that they have to sell themselves to you. This can help you project a sense of confidence.