So you landed an interview? Congratulations! If your resume is a snapshot of you and your skills, the interview is the time to shine. An interview is where you can elaborate on the skills you’ve set on your resume and where the hiring manager or interviewer gets a real sense of who you are as a person.
If you’re like me, interviews are a nerve-wracking experience, but they are an integral part of the hiring process. I always remind myself just before entering an interview that everyone’s gone through one at some point in their career and you have to start somewhere! The key things I learned for a slam-dunk interview is properly preparing yourself. So here are tips and tricks to help you get ready for the BIG DAY!
In a survey of interviews by Hiring Managers across 600 companies* here are some things interviewees have done that are big no-no’s and what you can do to avoid them.
– Appear Arrogant – It’s good to be confident, but there is a difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence shows that you are capable of the skills you are being interviewed for. Arrogance shows an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. So expressing you’re the next best thing since sliced bread may not get you the job.
– Answer a Cellphone or Text – JUST DON’T DO IT! Put your phone on silent, or better yet, turn it off. An interview is usually an hour max and I’m sure you can survive without looking at your phone until then. If you know you’re expecting a phone call or want to be prepared for an emergency, that’s what voice mail is for.
– Nega-talk About Current or Past Employers, Experiences etc. – Talking negative does not show professionalism in any way and will more likely make you look bad. Everything should be seen as a learning experience so although a past experience may have been a negative one, always give it a positive spin. Talk about what the experience has taught you or go back to the age old tradition, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
– Chewing gum or eating – I get it, interviews are nerve-wracking. Maybe you need something to calm your nerves or maybe you want to make sure you don’t have smelly breath, but spit out your gum beforehand or invest in breath strips instead.
– Dress Inappropriately – There are different views on what one may consider appropriate and inappropriate when it comes to interview attire, but knowing the company you’re interviewing with will help you decide what to wear. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with looking clean and presentable! Our President and CEO Malcolm Knox has interviewed hundreds of candidates for CCI Learning and his best advice is, “Come in looking polished. Nicely polished black shoes and never wear white socks with black shoes.” – He’s serious.
Now that you know the things to avoid, here are things for you to do to ensure you leave any interview with a positive impression of your best self.
– Prepare – Take time to research interview questions and prepare your answers. There is no guarantee you will be asked specific questions, but covering the basics in advance will make you feel more relaxed when answering. Also, go over your resume and the job description. This will ensure you know exactly what you are being interviewed for and you can make relevant examples that link to your resume.
– Know the Company’s Social Story – Most companies have a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Have a look at the things they are posting. It might be helpful to reference a post the company made if it relates to you and your experience. It shows you not only know about the company, but you are actively paying attention. Brownie points if you engage with them on your own social media channels.
– Share Your Results – When answering a question, drive to the bottom line by sharing your results. Avoid going on tangents that will leave you off track. Interviewers want to know the results; the fruits of your labor so always tie your relevant skills using examples on how you implemented those skills.
– Ask Intelligent Questions – Don’t be afraid to ask questions. In fact most interviewers will encourage it by asking if you have any questions. For this, always consider intelligent questions regarding the position, the company or the interviewer. A great question to ask is “How would you describe the company’s culture and leadership philosophy” or “What do you like most about working for this company?” Having questions shows your sincere interest and professionalism.
– Take a Deep Breath and Be Genuine! – An interviewer can tell if you are not being genuine. It speaks volumes in the way you address questions and how you interact during an interview. An interviewer wants to get to know your skills, but don’t forget they also want to get to know you. They want to see that you’re relatable and fit with the office environment so always be yourself and let your personality shine.
BONUS POINTS: A mistake some job seekers make is that they think the interview stops when the interview ends. After you leave an interview, be sure to send a ‘Thank You’ note or email. Something quick to thank the interviewer for taking time to see you can go a long way. It means you consider their time and are appreciative of the opportunity. Also, unless previously mentioned, send a follow-up email about the interview and position. Following up will show you are serious about the position and may give the interviewer a quick reminder of you and your interview prompting them to give you an estimated time when you’ll hear the results of the interview.
Consider these suggestions to go the extra mile and stand out, but try not to be too critical of yourself. Keep in mind that success is not a one track line. Be satisfied with what you have done and said and be patient. If it all works in your favor – awesome! If not, remember to reflect, get back up, and try again!
Good luck on your interview and let us know if any of these tips and tricks helped you land that job. Do you have any great interview prep tips? Share them in the comments!