It’s a tough economy, unemployment is up, money is scarce, blah, blah, blah, but you are on your way to beating the statistics! You spent hours networking, got leads from long lost acquaintances, searched a gazillion job postings on the internet, sent out countless resumes, and you finally have an interview. Now all that’s left for you to do is relax and get to the interview on time, right? Wrong. You’ve worked so hard to get your foot in the door, but you aren’t finished yet! You are going up against other interviewees who are just as eager to get the job. Be the best candidate in the bunch by using the following tips to prepare yourself for the interview:
1) Research the company with whom you are interviewing. Get an understanding of their departments, what they do, their business structure, etc by reviewing their website. Read any recent news articles about them. Use this information to:
a) develop an answer to the inevitable question so why do you want to work here?
b) prepare questions to ask the interviewer that show you are familiar with the company and you want to find out more about them.
2) Dress for success! A couple of days before the interview, pick out your outfit, clean your clothes and polish your shoes. No matter what job you are applying for, you should look polished and professional. By showing up “looking the part” you are reassuring them that you will dress properly for the position. No employer wants to teach you how to dress, or worry about what you are going to show up at work wearing! So unless you are applying for a job selling Italian ice at the beach, keep booty shorts, midriffs, cargo pants, flip-flops, and baseball caps at home.
Ex. If you are applying for a job at a bank, law firm, or some other professional setting, wear a suit, remove all piercings except earrings, leave gaudy jewelry at home (I’m talking to you giant swarovski crystal turtle pendant!), cover up tattoos, and if you are a woman, keep your makeup natural… if you’re a man, I guess keep the makeup natural also.
Ex. If you are applying for a job in a more casual setting take note of what the companys’ employees wear to work and choose an outfit that is one step above that. So if employees wear a company polo, sneakers, and jeans, then wear a polo, khakis, and a matching leather belt and shoes.
3) Get your bearings and get there early! Google the address and figure out how long it will take to get to the interview. If it’s in an unfamiliar area, print out the directions and make a dry run. It would be awful to show up late for the interview because you got lost! Plan on getting to the interview twenty minutes early, it’s polite and lets them know that punctuality is a priority to you.
4) Practice answering interview questions. Get a list of common interview questions and have a friend or family member play the part of the interviewer. Focus on listening to the question being asked, and answer it succinctly. Allow your personality to show, and include tidbits that make you stand out, but don’t ramble off topic or give unnecessary details that may bore the interviewer.
Ex. Question: So where are you from? Answer: Well I was born in Leo Indiana, but my dad was a salesman with a lot of territories. So we moved to a different one of my dad’s territories almost every year. I even lived out of the country a couple of times. My mom sold Tupperware because it’s a job you can really do from anywhere. I ended up going to college in Georgia and then I moved to St. Augustine Florida which is beautiful. Mama and Daddy met each other there and always told me how wonderful it was so that’s how I ended up there. I love St. Augustine, but I moved to Dallas when my old job reassigned me here.
Okay, so where are you from? It’s interesting to know you moved all over as a kid, and that can be part of your answer, it shows you probably adapt well to new situations and gives a little background about you. However, you rambled and didn’t answer the interviewers question! A better answer would be something along the lines of:
I was born in Leo Indiana, but I consider myself to be from St. Augustine Florida. My fathers job required the family to move a lot when I was growing up, sometimes even out of the country. But I spent many years in St. Augustine after graduating college and I really identify with that city, so as I just said, I consider myself to be from St. Augustine.
Your answers should also take the personality of the interviewer into account.
Ex. If your interviewer is friendly, outgoing, and funny then I wouldn’t be afraid to add a little humor to some of your answers. For instance, some offices allow people to bring dogs to work. If the interviewer introduces his dog to you and the dog is friendly, then when you are leaving shake the dogs paw, tell him it was nice to meet him, and say you agree with his policies on cats. Yes it’s silly, but with the right interviewer, it could be gold.
However, if your interviewer is no-nonsense I would just stick to answering the questions I’ve been asked.
5) Ask the friend or family-member playing your faux-interviewer to come up with an off the wall question to ask you during the interview. Interviewers often try to catch you off guard by asking you a ridiculous question. I was once asked how many golf balls are in the air across America at this very second? I said something along the lines of there are probably thousands of golf balls in the air at the moment since the weather channel showed good weather across the country today. But I would have to call golf clubs in each State and ask how many people were playing around this time and get an average to come up with a better number for you. I got the job, and later I asked the interviewer what he was looking for when he asked that question. He said he asked the question to gauge my reaction and see if I would get nervous, angry, confused, irritated, etc. The best thing to do when asked a wacko question is to stay calm and understand that there is no right answer.
6) If you happen to curse a lot, then stop cursing. Practice before hand! Each time you curse, start your sentence over again and put money in a swear jar and then donate the money to charity. Be conscious of your bad habit, and don’t drop an f-bomb at the interview for f*&^ing sake!
Best life tip: Don’t ruin all the hard work you did to get an interview. Be prepared! Get to know the company you are meeting with and introduce them to the best you possible – the you that’s right for the job!
Still having trouble getting an interview? The internet isn’t necessarily your best bet when trying to find a job, remember to network! Robbie Abed’s post titled “Your Professional Network Sucks and It’s All Your Fault” has some good suggestions on networking.