How to Nail an Interview

30 Oct

InterviewInterviews suck. I mean, who wants to be scrutinized by a panel of people they don’t know. And that’s not counting the pressure being on you to nail the interview and get the job.

That’s one attitude that people will have towards interviews. I have a very different one. In fact, I actually love giving interviews. I like talking, and love meeting new people, so they’ve never been difficult for me. I’ve given quite a few of them in my short number of working years so far, and they’ve all gone very well. However, I know a lot of people have struggled with them in the past. So I’m writing this to help you overcome your fears, know what to say, and land the job of your dreams. Here are some of my top tips for giving an interview:

Always be Overdressed

Dress to Impress, remember? Interviews are the biggest example of where you should always dress more professionally than is necessary. I’ve worn a suit to every interview I’ve given since I was in tenth grade, and it has paid off very well. Read the dress to impress series I linked to above if you need help with this.

Flip the Roles

Before giving an interview, pretend for a moment you are the interviewer. What do you want? What kind of person are you going to give this job to? What will make a candidate stand out? Ask yourself these and other questions. The answers will allow you to devise a basic strategy for the interview.

Do Your Research

Obviously you need to know as much about the company and the position as you can before you go into the interview. Thanks to the internet, this is very straightforward. If it is a public company, look at their financials. If the company has done well lately, talk about how you could build on that. If not, talk about how you can turn it around. The more you know about the company, the more you can impress the interviewers with your background knowledge.

Also, thanks to social media, it’s now possible to find out information about the people you’ll be meeting with. If you know their names, you can likely find their Facebook page and find out a little about them. If you share interests with them, don’t hesitate to talk about those interests. If you can relate to the person meeting with you on a personal level, you’ve become more than a candidate for the job, and they are more likely to pick you.

The Interview Starts Before It Begins

Make sure you arrive early, but not too early. Too early and you may come across as desperate for the job. Slightly early, like five to ten minutes, and you are respectfully early, but not desperate. Also, when you get there, make sure you are very respectful and social with everyone you see and meet. From receptionist on up the ranks, you never know who will make a comment about you to the interviewer after you leave, and it may make the difference.

Eye Contact

One thing that I’ve seen a surprising number of people fail miserably at in an interview is eye contact. Thankfully, most of you can skip this section, most people are capable of looking people in the eye when someone is talking to them and vice versa. Make sure that when you are in the interview you are keeping eye contact with your interviewer(s). Don’t stare, but you want to connect with them as much as possible.

Confidence

From the moment you shake hands with your interviewer, you should be oozing of confidence. I normally have a humble demeanor, but when I interview, I let my ego show. You only have a short amount of time to impress someone during a meeting, so you need to take advantage of it. If you come off as weak and don’t show belief in your abilities, you have no chance of getting the job. Of course if you act too strong and cocky you won’t get hired. The key is, of course, to find a balance, but that balance will be much more weighted towards the confident end for interviews than for other areas of life. Hold your head high. If you believe in yourself, others will believe in you.

Stress Your Strengths, But Not Too Much

The standard advice for interviews is to stress your strengths and minimize (while still admitting) your weaknesses. Often times though, people will go too far into burying their weaknesses. In fact, the worst interview I ever gave I had this problem.

I went in to the interview, which was for a summer internship position, and was confident seeing as I’d gotten the job last year. I told myself constantly to focus on my strengths. All through the interview I did well, until they asked me what my three greatest weaknesses were. I froze up. I had become so focused on my own awesomeness that I had forgotten to think of my weaknesses. I should have known that question would be asked, it’s one of the most common interview questions in the book. But I was totally unprepared. I still got the job, but it was purely because I’d had the same position the year before and had done well in it. Conversely, I believe one of the reasons I got that job in the first place was because the first time I interviewed for it I did an excellent job despite only being in eighth grade at the time.

Ask Questions

The last thing you’ll be asked in an interview is if you have any questions for the panel. Ask one or two questions that show you’ve done your research. Don’t ask something you could easily look up or was in the job description, but ask about the company or the broader field. Demonstrate your knowledge and preparedness by asking intelligent questions.

Send a Thank You

After you get back from the interview, send a thank you email or note. This will reinforce your interest, and also get your name in front of them one more time. The more they see your name, the more likely they are to pick it.

If you do all of those things at an interview, your chances of getting a job will go up significantly. As long as you are qualified and have done the other necessary steps, you will find yourself employed in no time.

4 Responses to “How to Nail an Interview”

  1. Sean @ One Smart Dollar October 30, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    Doing research is one of the most important items. You need to know background on the company and the position before you enter an interview.

  2. WorkSaveLive October 30, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    Doing research is extremely important, but I think asking questions and interviewing them is equally important. Ultimately you want to know if the job/company is right for you.

  3. Canadian Budget Binder October 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    I agree doing research is very important as well as eye contact and please be relaxed. There’s nothing worse than interviewing someone who looks like they are running a marathon sitting down. If you just remember to be you, relax, know your stuff, and know who you are and where you’ve been and what you can offer you will be fine. Great post. Mr.CBB

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