Job Interview Tips
By Andrew Lorraine
, last updated July 13, 2011
It goes without saying that a job interview can be one of the most nerve-wracking and imposing aspects of the job search. But despite its relative importance in the hiring process, taking simple steps to organize and prepare yourself for the interview will help you to get rid of those butterflies in your stomach and allow you to calmly and confidently make your best pitch for employment.
Before the Interview
It is incredibly important to prepare your pitch so that you can come in the day of the interview firing on all cylinders. Part of this preparation needs to include some background research into the company. Learn the organization’s history, role in the marketplace, and what will be expected of you as an employee so that you can showcase your knowledge and ask intelligent questions as a way to demonstrate your interest in the firm. Besides doing research, you will need to critically and objectively examine your strengths and weaknesses so that you are prepared to talk extensively about yourself. Most importantly, you need to be prepared to convince your interviewers that you are the best candidate for the job. Develop and make a list of your strengths, abilities, knowledge, and unique qualifications that will set you apart from the competition.
Though more and more employers are instituting relaxed dress codes, it’s still imperative that you dress well for your interview. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should always wear a suit, but it does mean that you need to research the firm’s employee dress code and aim to match your outfit to the company’s unique culture and environment. A general rule of thumb is to wear something slightly dressier than what employees normally wear. If you are unsure what normal work attire consists of, than there is no shame in contacting the firm’s Human Resources department or someone who will be able to give you an accurate answer. Also, as appearances do matter for interviews, make sure you are well groomed the day of the interview.
To avoid the nightmare scenario of running late to your interview, make sure you leave your home with plenty of time to spare. Aim to arrive 15 minutes before you are scheduled to interview. If you arrive with more time to spare, spend some time in a local coffee shop, park, or any other relaxing setting where you can rehearse and mentally prepare for your coming interview. Lastly, don’t forget to bring extra copies of your resume and references, a pen or pencil, and some paper to take notes.
During the Interview
The inevitable pressure accompanying a job interview should prompt you to spend ample time preparing for the process. Though interviews can often be tense and cause you to panic, you should strive to remain calm and poised at all times. Your chances for being hired won’t diminish if you pause for a few seconds before answering a question in order to gather your thoughts, but your interviewers will most certainly notice if you blurt out and stammer through an answer without having thought it through. Pay attention to the questions being asked, request clarification as needed, and do your best to calmly have a conversation with your interviewers.
After the Interview
Always follow up an interview with some kind of thank-you note. The medium that you use for this message—whether it be an email or a more conventional letter—should be based on both the formality of the interview and on the type of firm that you have just interviewed with. Reiterate your interest in the open position, include specific references to your interview, and offer to provide any additional information as needed. If more than one week has passed since you’ve heard from your potential employer, politely contact their office to inquire about your application status.