Way to go! You landed an interview. You must be doing something right – your good luck charm, your resume? Your purrfect cover letter?
If you’re just breaking into the professional world, you may not have a lot of work experience to leverage. So all the more, an invitation to interview is a great sign. They’re interested. They think you could be a good fit for the position, and they want to learn more.
An interview is a big deal. This is your chance to prove yourself – take advantage of it!
You don’t get nine lives in an interview, but here are nine expert interview tips that’ll help you always land on your feet. We understand interviews can be daunting, so we decided to lighten the mood with these furry felines.
Interview tip #1: Research the company
Be sure to hop on the World Wide Web and do a bit of Googling before the big date. Read up on the company’s history, mission and employees. And this doesn’t just consist of browsing the “About Us” section of their website.
Check out their blog, follow their social media channels and read up on any mentions of them in the news, suggests Val Matta, vice president of business development at CareerShift.
Can you name the CEO? Can you summarize the company’s values? How do you see yourself fitting in with the company? Be prepared to answer these types of questions in your interview.
Interview tip #2: Clean up your social media beforehand
You will likely get Googled during the hiring process – it’s just a reality of the world in which we live. Don’t leave any negative posts or questionable images in your digital footprint. Double-check your privacy settings across your social media channels. You don’t need to put everything on lockdown, but make sure that anything visible to the public places you in a positive light.
“Make sure your public social media profiles don't reflect anything you would be uncomfortable with your future boss seeing,” says Kristina Butler, director of KB Career Solutions, “I can't stress this enough!”
Jennifer Magas of Magas Media Consultants suggests refocusing your social media accounts in order to leverage them during the hiring process. Check out these tips for using social media strategically in your job search!
Interview tip #3: Practice your answers in the mirror
Identify some common and tricky interview questions beforehand to practice. Don’t just think out your answers – practice saying them in front of the mirror. This will allow you to get your eye contact and confident body language down pat.
“You'll want to practice your answers aloud, not so that you sound like a robot but so that you can speak clearly and articulate about what skills you bring to the table,” says career advisor Jacqueline Twillie.
Michelle Vitus, CEO of Slate Advisers agrees that there’s no substitute for practice. She recommends finding a list of common interview questions and attempting to answer them out loud. Or even better – ask a friend or family member for feedback on your body language.
“You might be surprised what you do when you’re nervous,” Vitus says.
Interview tip # 4: Dress for success & be well groomed
If you’re lucky enough to land an interview, you better be prepared to look the part. Even if the company for which you’re interviewing has a casual dress code, you should plan on wearing formal attire to the interview.
“Don’t dress casual for an interview — even if the company representative tells you that you don't need to worry about what to wear,” says Kurt Greene, owner and president of Arrow G Consulting. “You only have one chance to make a good first impression, so this is the time to suit up.”
Interview tip #5: Extend a great handshake
It’s age-old advice, but it’s still imperative: Always begin and end your interview with a solid handshake. Walk up to anyone you meet, extend your hand and introduce yourself. This weighs more in their minds than you can imagine.
“Be sure your handshake is firm. Smile, say your name clearly and make direct eye contact,” says Peggy Newfield, etiquette expert of The American School of Protocol.
Interview tip #6: Be yourself & answer questions honestly
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to interviewing. Never lie about your experiences — the risks of being exposed are just not worth it. When answering questions, remain true to yourself. If you’re just telling them what they want to hear, you run the risk of ending up in a position that’s not right for you.
“You may lie the entire way through the interview to make yourself look flawless, but you then may be hired on to a company that is a horrible fit for you,” says Bonnie Treece, owner of The Brain Domain.
“No one is going to hire a fake,” adds Anthony Santini, owner of The Salon Professional Academy.
Interview tip #7: Keep your cool during tricky questions
Why were you fired? What are your weaknesses? If you have 350 tons of catnip on a train heading north at 95 miles per hour … you know how the rest goes.
Questions like these can be difficult to answer honestly and accurately while still portraying yourself positively. The important part is not so much your answer, but your ability to remain calm, cool and collected in your response.
“Don't give me throw away answers for your weaknesses. Don't say you're a perfectionist or that you work too hard. That comes off as laughable, true or not,” says Tim Toterhi, author of The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting.
Interview tip #8: Ask many questions in the interview
Phew! You made it through the long list of questions. But just you wait — now it’s your turn to get some answers.
“Candidates forget that an interview should go both ways,” says Gina Estrada of AXA Advisors, LLC.
Come prepared to ask questions at the end of the interview. These can be about company culture, the open position, what they’re looking for in candidates or anything else you might be inquiring. This is one situation where curiosity definitely won’t kill the cat!
One question Estrada always recommends is to ask the interviewer how they got started with the company. Asking the right questions will make you look intelligent, thoughtful and highly interested in the job.
Interview tip #9: Write a follow-up thank you note
Alright, interview’s over. The work is done, right? WRONG!
Stay on top of the interviewer’s mind by sending a thank you note afterwards. Tell them you appreciate that they took the time to speak with you and highlight a few snippets of what you discussed to remind them why you’re the optimal fit for the position.
“Always send a thank you note the next day at the latest. Emails are ok, but hand-written notes are better because they help you stand out,” says David Waring of Fit Small Business.
The cat’s out of the bag
Now that the experts have shared their secrets, you should have all of the confidence you need to chase down your dream job like a cat after a mouse. Bookmark these interview tips to revisit before every new interview.
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