In a highly competitive job market, a request for an interview is a significant accomplishment. However, it’s only the first step in the rigorous journey toward landing a position. Even highly qualified candidates need to be prepared for a job interview in order to effectively communicate their skills, experience, industry knowledge, and professionalism. From pre-interview research to post-interview etiquette, here are some interview tips for making a positive impression and demonstrating your qualifications:
1. Do Your Research
With so much information available online, interviewers expect candidates to conduct research on a company and arrive at the interview with an understanding of the company’s offerings, philosophy, and contributions to the industry.
Before the interview, you should peruse the company’s website and take time to find blog posts and quarterly reports that can offer valuable information. You might even be able to find information about the interviewer, which could offer insight into their values and focus areas.
In order to gain an outside perspective on the company, you should browse press coverage about it. The content might alert you to sensitive issues or interactions that are not discussed on the company website. If you want to stay up to date on company news, Forbes contributor Jon Youshaei recommends using tools such as Google Alerts, a program that can notify you about new coverage so that you don’t have to search for it.
By conducting research and developing a better understanding of the employer, you will be able to make company-specific references during the interview and come across as a more informed applicant.
2. Set Yourself Up for Success
Glassdoor, a career services organization, reports that candidates are most likely to have a successful interview on a Tuesday morning at 10:30. On Tuesdays, hiring managers aren’t catching up from the weekend or winding down after a long week, Youshaei explains. Scheduling an interview at 10:30 is better than before or after lunch. If you are meeting before lunch, the interview could be cut short. However, if it occurs after lunch, you could be kept waiting.
3. Make a Good First Impression
In order to make a good first impression at a job interview, you should be professional and match your tone to that of the interviewer. Career expert Randall S. Hansen, PhD, recommends arriving early in order to observe the workplace environment. He says that it is important to demonstrate professionalism and respect from the moment you enter the building. You should also be sure to dress professionally. When deciding what to wear, keep the company culture in mind. For instance, if you’re interviewing with a less traditional organization, you should avoid dressing too formally.
When you meet the hiring manager, you should demonstrate energy and interest. Always strive to be professional and match your level of familiarity with that of the interviewer. Making a good first impression during an interview is crucial. Hansen points to studies showing that hiring managers reach important conclusions about candidates within 20 minutes of starting an interview.
4. Communicate Effectively
During the interview, you should focus on being authentic and confident. Deliver concise responses that highlight your experience and skills. You can best communicate your fit for a position by offering specific examples of your achievements and problem-solving abilities. However, you should avoid rambling so that you don’t lose the interviewer’s attention. Similarly, Hansen stresses the importance of positive communication, meaning that it’s in your best interests not to criticize former employers or colleagues—even if you’re prompted to do so. Appropriate nonverbal communication is also key in an interview, and even the slightest fidgeting or lack of eye contact can distract an interviewer from your positive attributes.
5. Be Prepared for Common Questions
At some point, most job seekers have answered questions such as “tell me about yourself” and “how did you address a specific challenge?” Anticipating these types of questions will offer you a competitive edge that will enable you to provide a more impactful and developed answer.
According to Youshaei, a prepared “story statement” will help you to answer the “tell me about yourself” question. A story statement should highlight what makes you unique as an individual and offer insight as to how your qualities and experiences have shaped your professional activities. For example, a story statement might emphasize how an early experience with a computer inspired an applicant to work in the tech industry.
Youshaei said that in the event that an interviewer asks you for an example of your problem-solving abilities, you should be prepared with several anecdotes that allow you to describe the problem, your actions, and the result. Providing anecdotes will ensure that you answer the question comprehensively and effectively highlight your successes.
6. Ask Smart Questions
Most of the time, you will have an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview. Studies indicate that employers judge candidates’ interest in a position based on their questions or lack thereof.
Prepare questions prior to the interview based on your priorities, such as professional development or work-life balance, and formulate new questions as necessary based on the interview. Your questions should reflect your priorities, understanding of the company, and ability to listen.
7. Follow Up with a Thank You Note
Hiring managers devote a significant amount of time and effort to the interview process, which you can acknowledge with a thank you note after the interview. A thank you note demonstrates professionalism and courtesy that could give you an advantage over other candidates.
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