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Interview Tips and How to Prepare

If you are in the market for a new job opportunity, the first step is to polish your resume and make sure to avoid any major resume blunders. Next, you are ready to start applying for some new roles that interest you. Once you send your resume or submit your job application, you anxiously wait. Then, you finally get a call that a client has requested an interview with you. How are you feeling? Nervous? Excited? Overwhelmed? You may be feeling a mix of emotions. What are the next steps you should take to make sure your interview is a success which might lead to an offer? This blog post will help prepare you with what to do Before, During and After an interview.

Before the Interview

Your interview might be scheduled for 2 days or 2 weeks from now. Either way, it’s important to BE PREPARED. Here are some easy but important ways to prepare ahead of time:

Keep your calendar open for the day of your scheduled interview.

Your interview may last a ½ hour, 1 hour or maybe longer. Avoid scheduling any other appointments right before or after your interview. Meaning, don’t put yourself in a situation where you might be getting antsy and looking at the time, or racing to get to your interview because another appointment went over.

Research the company online.

First off, check out the company’s website. In addition, check out the company on LinkedIn, Facebook and through other social media outlets. Use this insight to engage in meaningful conversation with the hiring manager.

Use your recruiter to your advantage.

Ask your recruiter about the company culture and what kinds of questions to expect during the interview. Recruiter’s usually have the inside track on the personalities of the manager(s) you might be interviewing with so you know what to expect.

Dress professionally.

Do not wear jeans and a t-shirt to your interview. A professional appearance and image goes a long way. For men, this means wearing a suit and tie, and for women, a blazer or suit jacket with a skirt or dress pants.

Print out extra copies of your resume to have on hand.

Extra copies of your resume are great to have with you. That way, if the hiring manager doesn’t have your resume in front of them, you can easily supply a copy. In addition, if the job requires a portfolio of work samples, make sure it is up to date and ready to take with you.

Arriving on time for your interview should be a priority.

Map your route ahead of time. If necessary, do a dry run of the facility or office location. It’s always best to know exactly where you’re going, where you plan to park, and assess any unforeseen traffic patterns.

Bring a notepad with questions to ask during your interview.

Jot down 3 to 5 specific questions on the 2nd page of a notepad and plan on taking it with you. Leave the first page blank so you can take notes during your interview.

During the Interview

You’ve arrived on time with a notepad and copies of your resume in hand. Take the next steps to make sure you interview is a success.

A firm handshake and direct eye contact.

Don’t underestimate the power of these 2 key factors. A firm handshake and direct eye contact make a positive and powerful first impression on a hiring manager.

Don’t curb your enthusiasm. Express it.

Show your genuine interest in this new opportunity. What intrigues you about the company? What are some of the challenges of this role that really interest you? Cite something specific you discovered during your background research that makes this opportunity a good fit for you. In addition, let them know how your skills would make a positive impact on their company.

Never respond with a “no”.

It’s okay if you don’t know the exact answer to a question. However, you need to show how you would find the answer or work through the issue to come to a solution. The hiring manager wants to see that you have ideas and that you can problem solve.

Be specific when answering questions.

You need to sell your skills to the hiring manager, so be specific when answering questions. Use examples and scenarios from your own experience to give credibility to your abilities and background. The hiring manager wants evidence that you will excel in this new role. Also, they want to know you can clearly communicate what your capabilities are.

Be prepared with your notepad and questions to ask the interviewer about the position.

If you’ve prepared ahead of time, you should already have 3 to 5 questions on page 2 of your notepad. During the interview, jot some notes on the first page. When you are asked if you have any questions, flip to the next page and you’ll have your questions ready. This is your chance to interview the hiring manager. It’s a great way to show self-confidence and your true interest in the position.

Keep your questions geared towards the job opportunity and what you can bring to the role. Your initial questions shouldn’t be about company perks and benefits (i.e. sick days, vacation days, holidays, etc.). While this information is great to have, you don’t want to give the impression that your focus is on time off and benefits and not the job.

Try to make it a conversation and not an interrogation.

Breathe. Relax. Talk, but don’t talk too much. In other words, stay on point to the questions at hand. Be mindful of when it’s time to move to the next topic. Avoid negativity about any former employer. By the same token, stay positive and steer clear of office politics talk.

Ask for the job.

Tell the client how much you want the position and ask for it. At the very least, ask what the next steps are in the hiring process. In addition, if you are genuinely interested in the position and would make a perfect fit, you’ll probably know it and the hiring manager will probably know it too.

After the Interview

Send a thank you note.

A simple thank you note or email sent after an interview goes a long way. Be sure to tailor your thank you to the specific role, your qualifications and some key points discussed in the interview. In addition, don’t wait to send your thank you note. Send your thank you note or email within 24 hours of your interview.

Get feedback from your recruiter.

You can contact your recruiter to get feedback after an interview, but realize that sometimes this can happen quickly or may take a few weeks. It depends on the company, the hiring manager and on how many people they are interviewing.

Things to Avoid in an Interview

  • Sloppy dress. Messy hairstyles. Wrinkled clothing.
  • Asking for an unrealistic salary that’s beyond your salary level and qualifications
  • Showing hesitation or concern about overtime or extensive travel requirements
  • Indicating that you need time off right away; Indicating that you wouldn’t be available to start in 2 weeks.
  • Bringing a portfolio that might contain classified or sensitive information. (e.g. something that might violate a company’s non-disclosure agreement)
  • Showing up late – even with a valid excuse. Do whatever it takes to be on time!
  • Complaining about a former employer
  • Body gestures that might have a negative impact: No eye contact. Eye rolling. Crossed arms.

In conclusion, hopefully these tips will have you prepared and ready to go for your next interview. A little foresight and preparation can go a long way in closing the deal for your next job opportunity.

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