(Part 1 – Before the Interview)
You can have the perfect resume… a briefcase-full of impressive recommendations…great personality and work ethic. But for employers seeking the perfect hire, there’s nothing like a face-to-face interview to determine if you really are the best candidate for the job; if you can fit in with the team; and, most importantly, if you really want the job.
Interviewers learn what they want to know by simply looking and listening. They look at how you dress and how you carry yourself; they may see a warm, enthusiastic, and confident person – or an aloof, apathetic, or nervous individual. And when you speak, they not only listen for content, but also for tone of voice and self-assurance.
Getting hired depends very much on making a great impression in a “knock their socks off” job interview. In Part 1 of this article, you’ll find out why the key to success is preparation. And more preparation! Here’s a tried-and-proven to-do list:
Dress for success. First impressions last. Even if you’re not angling for a C-level position, you have to project a professional image. If the work environment is a formal one (bank, law office, corporate headquarters), then show up in business attire. This means suits and shirt/blouses in solid, coordinated colors…dark socks (men) and stockings (women)…minimal jewelry. If the surroundings are more casual (restaurant, retail, start-ups), then it’s okay to dress down a bit. Opt for a more relaxed, comfortable – but still neat and presentable look (no flip-flops or raggedy t-shirts, please). Of course, neat hairstyles, trimmed nails, and good grooming are a must wherever you’re interviewing. Nix the perfume or cologne, too.
Do your due diligence. Know everything you can about the company you plan to work in. Yes, you want to be able to ask the right questions and sound intelligent during the interview. But more importantly, you’ll want to know if the company is the right fit for you and vice-versa. You’ll want to know if this is going to be a short-term job or a long-term career. So besides Googling the company, check out its annual or financial reports (if a public firm). Review its executive profiles, press releases, and product news. Be familiar with the company’s business and its corporate culture. All this due diligence will enable you and your potential employer to see if you both share the same values and can work well together.
Go with the right attitude. It’s all in the mindset. Go to the interview with pride in yourself and your accomplishments. Show up knowing why you want that job and why you’re the best candidate for that position. Fulfill these two caveats and you’ll project genuine enthusiasm and passion in the interview.
Your questions will show authentic interest. Your answers will show you’ve done your homework and know how to provide solutions for the company. Your body language will project openness, confidence, and a relaxed and upbeat demeanor. You want your prospective employer to believe you’re the best hire? Believe in yourself first!
Practice answering tough interview questions. Interviewers are surely going to ask about your past work experience. But that’s not all. In a June 2013 survey of UK job candidates by glassdoor.com, respondents revealed the toughest job interview questions they had recently faced. Among them:
• “If you were to win £1 million what would you do with the money?”
• “What do you think is the most useful function in Excel?”
• “What makes you happy about work on a Friday evening?”
• “What is it about this job you would least look forward to?”
• “If you were the head of Barclays Corporate what would your strategy be with the recent European Crisis?
• “Tell me about a time when you failed at something.”
Practice answering these uncommon – but very real – job interview questions along with the more typical ones. Answer them out loud. The more prepared you are, the better the chance you’ll ace the interview.
Know what to bring – and what to leave home. Your prospective employer probably already has your resume. But just in case, bring extra copies, as well as a list of personal and professional references and their contact information. Bring with you a list of (well-thought-out) questions to ask the interviewer and, if relevant, your best work samples organized either in a neat, orderly portfolio or in your iPad or laptop. Did we say “be prepared”? Don’t forget to have the following handy: notepad and pen, some form of identification, the name of your contact and email confirmation of your appointment and, of course, directions to the interview location.
What NOT to bring? Your cell phone (keep it turned off)…your iPod…gum, candy or any food or drink…and anyone else besides yourself!
Even more important – don’t bring the nasty odor of cigarettes to the interview. There’s no bigger turnoff! If you must smoke, switch to Green Smoke® electronic cigarettes. E-cigs are battery-operated – not lit – so they’re smoke-free, ash-free, and free of cigarette odors. You’ll enjoy a fantastic smoking experience, but no one’s the wiser (especially the job interviewer)!
Watch out for Part 2 of this article: TIPS: Job Interviews that Get You Hired (During the Interview)