Back to basics
1. Practice and Prepare
Review the typical job interview questions employers ask, and practice your answers.
Strong answers are specific but concise, drawing on concrete examples that highlight your skills and back up your claims. Your answers should also emphasize skills that are important to the employer and relevant to the position. Be sure to review the job listing, make a list of the requirements, and match them to your experience.
Note that even the most well-prepared response will fall short if it does not answer the exact question you are being asked. While it’s important to familiarize yourself with best answers, it’s equally important to listen carefully during your interview in order to ensure your responses provide the information that the interviewer is looking for.
Also, have a list of your own questions to ask the employer ready. In almost any interview, you’ll be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer. It is important to have at least one or two questions prepared in order to demonstrate your interest in the organization. Otherwise, you might come across as apathetic, which is a major turn off for hiring managers.
2. Develop a Connection with the Interviewer
In addition to indicating what you know about the company, you should also try to develop a connection to your interviewer.
Know the interviewer's name, and use it during the job interview. (If you're not sure of the name, call and ask prior to the interview. And, listen very carefully during introductions. If you’re prone to forgetting names, jot it down somewhere discreet, like in small letters at the bottom of your notepad.)
Ultimately, building rapport and making a personal connection with your interviewercan up your chances of getting hired. People tend to hire candidates they like, and who seem to be a good fit for the company culture.
3. Research the Company, and Show What You Know
Do your homework about the employer and the industry, so you are ready for the interview question "What do you know about this company?" If this question is not asked, you should try to demonstrate what you know about the company on your own.
You can do this by tying what you’ve learned about the company into your responses. For example, you might say, “I noticed that when you implemented a new software system last year, your customer satisfaction ratings improved dramatically. I am well versed in the latest technologies from my experience with developing software at ABC, and appreciate a company who strives to be a leader in its industry.”
You should be able to find out a lot of information about the company’s history, mission and values, staff, culture and recent successes on its website. If the company has a blog, this can be a useful place to look, too.
4. Get Ready Ahead of Time
Don't wait until the last minute to pick out an interview outfit, print extra copies of your resume, or find a notepad and pen. Have one good interview outfit ready, so you can interview on short notice without having to worry about what to wear. When you have an interview lined up, get everything ready the night before.
Not only will planning out everything (from what shoes you will wear, to how you’ll style your hair, to what time you will leave and how you’ll get there, and so on) buy you time in the morning, but it will also save you from having to make decisions, which means you can use that brain power during your interview.
Make sure your interview attire is neat, tidy and appropriate for the type of firm you are interviewing with. Bring a nice portfolio with extra copies of your resume. Include a pen and paper for note-taking.
5. Be On Time (That Means Early)
Be on time for the interview. On time means five to ten minutes early. If need be, take some time to drive to the interview location ahead of time so you know exactly where you are going and how long it will take to get there. Take into account the time of your interview so you can adjust for local traffic patterns at that time. Give yourself a few extra minutes to visit the restroom, check your outfit, and calm your nerves.
6. Try to Stay Calm
During the job interview, try to relax and stay as calm as possible. Remember that your body language says as much about you as your answers to the questions. Proper preparation will allow you to exude confidence.
As you answer questions, maintain eye contact with the interview. Be sure to pay attention to the question so that you don’t forget it, and listen to the entire question (using active listening) before you answer, so you know exactly what the interviewer is trying to ask. Avoid cutting off the interviewer at all costs, especially when he or she is asking questions. If you need to take a moment to think about your answer, that’s totally fine, and is a better option than starting out with multiple “ums” or “uhs.”
Check out these tips for avoiding job interview stress to help keep your nerves calm. If the thought of a job interview puts you in panic mode, reviewing these interview tips for introverts is a great place to start.
7. Follow-Up After the Interview
Always follow-up with a thank you note reiterating your interest in the position. You can also include any details you may have forgotten to mention during your interview. If you interview with multiple people from the same company, send each one a personal note. Send your thank you email within 24 hours of your interview.