Putting yourself out there in a competitive job market can be intimidating and stressful. However, if you go in there with the right attitude in showing that you are prepared, professional, and easy to talk to, then it can be a positive experience for both you and (hopefully) your future employer. To set yourself above the rest and have a better chance of securing the job, here are some interview tips on how to be a good interviewee:
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ARRIVE 15 MINUTES EARLY
To get your interview off on the right foot, make sure you arrive at least 15-20 minutes early. Monster suggests that you should prepare the night before by getting your interview outfit ready and going to bed early. Then the day of your interview, you’ll be that much more ahead of the game.
On the day of, give yourself adequate time to get there- factor in traffic, finding a parking space, checking in, and walking to and from between buildings. Since you never really know what to expect, it’s always good to get there early and have time to relax and observe how the workplace functions.
In your job interview preparation, being early for the interview shows that you are reliable and capable of getting to work when expected now and in the future.
BE AWARE OF HOW YOU ARE PRESENTING YOURSELF
Like being on a first date, first impressions mean everything the moment you walk through the door. Be sure to be polite and friendly to everyone you come in contact with, from the janitor to the receptionist and your potential co-workers to the interviewer. Many times, the hiring manager will ask the others what they thought of you in making their final decision.
Keep in mind that you only have a few seconds to make an excellent first impression, so make sure you are well-dressed, stand up straight, smile, make clear eye contact, and offer a warm handshake. Be personable and embrace small talk as your interviewer is looking for a way to relate to you. Ask yourself- are you coming across as someone you’d like to work with?
BRING EXTRA COPIES OF YOUR RESUME
The hiring manager is a probably a busy person and maybe just glanced at your resume before scheduling your interview, so be sure to have a few copies handy to refer back to for your discussion. Your resume and any portfolio samples can reaffirm how your skills can easily translate into the open position and drive home your authenticity. The copies of your resume and portfolio samples should be clean and wrinkle/rip-free.
How you dress for an interview depends on what kind of job you are going for, but the Joe Dirt jeans and a sleeveless T-shirt style is never okay. If you are applying for a job on Wall Street, it’s a sure bet you want to show up in a sharp, finely-pressed suit but if you are going for a position as a truck driver, then that might be overdoing it.
However, for most professional jobs being overdressed is way better than being underdressed. Just make sure whatever you wear is clean, it fits, and like your resume is wrinkle-free. It’s also a good idea to keep jewelry to a minimum, conceal tattoos, and come with fresh breath.
LEAVE YOUR CELL PHONE BEHIND
The one thing that can kill the momentum when you have a good conversation going with the interviewer is when someone’s cell phone goes off. It’s rude, disruptive, and shows where the person’s priorities are. Even if you put your phone on vibrate, you may still hear that, and the interruption may throw everyone off-course. To avoid that awkwardness altogether, leave your cell phone in the car.
I know this can be easier said than done because you’re probably nervous and running all of the potential interview questions through your head, but the interviewer is going to be paying attention to your body language and feedback to determine if the job is suited for you.
Take notes if you have to and keep in mind that this is your best chance at truly understanding the position and if it’s right for you. Moreover, don’t be afraid to ask questions– let the hiring manager lead the interview but feel free to chime in if you need clarity on an issue or write it down and refer back to it when it’s the right time.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
Again, like any budding relationship the chemistry between you and the interviewer will determine how long it will last. A lot of that has to do with body language. If you are nervous, sweating and disheveled, it will be hard for the interviewer to figure out how to read you and where the relationship is going. Attitudes are infectious, so if you come into the interview excited, confident, and happy, then that’s bound to rub off on others and make them want to be around you.
In the days before your interview, listen to uplifting music, stage a mock interview to feel more prepared, and practice positive visualization. Another excellent interview tip is that if you start to freeze up during the interview, lean forward a little bit. Not only does it make you seem more likable, but your brain also releases that stiff body language that will help you come across more confident.
The interviewer just spent an hour or two of their precious time getting to know you, so it’s polite to follow up with a simple ‘thank you’ afterward. Some suggest that you should follow up within the day of your interview with a heartfelt, personalized email or a handwritten note works well, too.
It should be simple, concise and highlight a few points from the meeting with ways in how you will bring value to them. Then leave it at that. You don’t want to pester the interviewer, but a timely follow-up ‘thank you’ will give you an edge over other candidates who didn’t bother to take that step.
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As long as you are confident and prepared, you are going to crush the job interview. Just be yourself and know that the interviewer sees your potential, which is how you’ve gotten this far.