Information and Tips to Ace a Job Interview
Your resume is important, but it’s the interview that gets you the job! Once you have an interview, you should feel confident – understand that only a very tiny fraction of job seekers get to interview for any given position, so you must have impressed someone already. How can you use that momentum to get the job you desire? Let’s look at some of the top interviewing tips.
In virtually every situation, it is a good idea for both men and women to wear a suit. Women may choose a skirt suit if they wish. During the interview, your attire shows your respect for the company and for the interviewer. If you are applying to a company where the dress code is well known to be informal, you might choose a button-down shirt and khakis instead. Open-toed shoes or sandals are never appropriate, nor are shorts. Keep jewelry and scents to a minimum.
What to Bring
When reporting to an interview, it is a good idea to bring a brief portfolio of your achievements. Your portfolio should include your resume, cover letter, and a copy of the job posting if you are responding to one. Your portfolio can also include copies of award certificates or news clippings related to your career, and examples of your work where applicable. For example, graphic designers might include print-outs of recent projects. Leave this portfolio with your interviewer – it is a powerful way to motivate him or her to give your credentials another look!
How to Prepare
One of the most important things that you can do to prepare for an interview is research the organization where you wish to work. Study the website and any publications in detail. If there are challenges or opportunities the company is facing in your area of expertise, you’ll want to mention them in your interview. You should also familiarize yourself with the content of your resume by reading it once a day as you prepare – in case you are asked about past achievements.
Memorizing “word-for-word” answers to interview questions can cause problems, as you might become nervous or sound “rehearsed.” If you choose to practice your answers, be sure to do it in a productive way. Write down the question and the most important details of your answer on a note card, being sure to use only one card per question, and practice each answer in the mirror twice a day: Once in the morning and once in evening. This will help you remember them.
Some of the most common interview questions include:
- “Why should I hire you?”
- “Why do you want to work at this company?”
- “What is your biggest weakness?”
- “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
- “What would your last supervisor say about you?”
Questions to Ask an Interviewer
During an interview, never ask about compensation or benefits unless the interviewer brings the topic up. To demonstrate your commitment to a given job and company, you should always prepare two or three questions – giving you a clear and compelling way to answer what is almost always the final question of any interview: “Do you have anything to ask me?”
Your questions should focus on how to excel in your new role if chosen. Some examples include:
- “What are the major challenges that this role will face in the first three months?”
- “What do you feel are the most important traits for success in this role?”
- “What do you feel is the most important skill for this role?”
- “What is your favorite aspect of working at this company?”
- “What opportunities is the company trying to capitalize on right now?”
Following Up After the Interview
Within two days of an interview, it is a good idea to send a hand-written note addressed directly to each person who interviewed you. In your note, express your gratitude for the interviewer’s time and your enthusiasm to work together in the future. You should also mention a few of the key points you learned about the position.
Reiterate your major qualifications in a confident, straightforward way. If you forgot to mention any highly important qualifications, then now is the time to do it – but be sure that the focus of your note is your genuine appreciation for the interview. More than 90% of interviewees don’t write a follow-up letter, so this is a key step!
Reasons People Don’t Get Hired
There are many reasons why someone does not get hired, often outside an interviewee’s control:
- Someone more qualified for the position applied and interviewed at the same time.
- The company decided to close the position to outside applicants and hire from within.
- The interview was a way to “test” the candidate pool for a role not really being offered.
- The interviewer had a better “rapport” with another candidate or simply liked them better.
- The interviewee was qualified, but did not seem to be a good fit for the company culture.
Due to liability issues, interviewers are rarely able to offer specific details about why a candidate was not hired. However, interviewees should realize that – in most cases – their own performance in the interview may not have been the reason they were not hired.
If you don’t get hired for a specific role, you can strengthen your odds next time by reviewing your performance and learning what went wrong. Did you use open, confident body language? Were you dressed in appropriate business attire? Preparation is the key!
The more you interview, the better you will get at it, so always take each interview as a chance to grow in the future! If you would like to learn more about interviewing, feel free to review the high-quality resources collected below:
- Interviewing Tips – State Government of Michigan (PDF)
- Interview Tips – Brigham Young University
- Interviewing Techniques and Tips – Help Guide
- Tips for Interview Success – Work Smart California
- Before, During, and After the Interview – Virginia Department of General Services
- Have A Productive Job Interview – Mississippi Department of Employment Security
- Quick Guide to Interviewing – Missouri Department of Social Services (PDF)
- Interviewing Tip and Techniques – Career Mobility Office of New York State (PDF)
- Interviewing Tips – Idaho Department of Labor (PDF)
- Top 10 Interviewing Tips – National Health Service Corps (PDF)
- Resource Guide for Interviewing Success – Government of New York City
- Interview Preparation and Stress Management – Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF)
- Interview Preparation Tips for Veterans – United States Department of Veterans Affairs
- Interviewing Tips for Managers – U.S. Office of Personnel Management (PDF)
- Preparing for a Job Interview – Adventures in Education
- Interview Tips for Teens – Teen Force (PDF)
- Interview Tips and Resume Examples for Law Students – PSJD
- FAQ About Preparing for the Interview – Association of American Medical Colleges
- Interview Questions and Tips for Academic Careers – Carleton College
- Interviewing Resources for Actuary Careers – From the Society of Actuaries
- Interviewing, Research, and Resume Tips – Virginia Education Wizard
- How to Present Yourself in an Interview – Harvard Business Review
- Ten Interviewing Tips for Job Seekers – Talent Market
- Federal Job Interviewing Tips – Go Government
- Tips and Techniques for Phone Interviews – Yale University (PDF)
- Preparing for an Interview – The Mayo Clinic
- Resume and Interview Tips – Purdue University
- Resumes, Letters, and Interviewing Tips – DeVry University
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