Job interviews might not be the best way for companies to find and hire new talent, but for now, we’re all stuck with them. Your goal, as a job seeker, is to make the most of a semi-awkward experience and impress the interviewer with your skills, experience and abilities — while also finding out as much as possible about the company and its goals and culture.
It’s a tall order, especially for a conversation that might last less than an hour. But with a little preparation and some self-awareness, you can make job interviews work for you. These interview tips will help.
1. Research the company (and the interviewer).
Before you set foot in the company’s offices, you should know everything there is to know about the organization. (Or everything that research can tell you.)
Browse the company’s website, paying special attention to its products, history and executive team. Look at the organization’s social media. Google the company, and read any news stories or backgrounders that come up.
Ask for the name of the person (or people) you’ll be interviewing with, and check out their social media, search results and online presence. Look for points of connection. Did you go to the same school, or come from the same segment of the industry? There might be a good conversational hook waiting for you in their LinkedIn profile.
2. Prepare to answer common interview questions.
Don’t spend so much time preparing to answer curveball interview questions that you forget about the common ones. You don’t want to go into your interview expecting to talk about what kind of tree you’d be, only to get stuck on the ever-popular, “Tell me about yourself.”
3. Bring some questions of your own.
Ideally, you won’t have many questions about the organization or its goals — your pre-interview research will have taken care of those. But you should come prepared with some questions to ask the hiring manager. For example, you might ask them to describe a typical workday for someone in this role.
4. Practice interviewing with a friend.
Practice makes perfect, especially in job interviews, where nerves are always an issue. To get the most out of your practice interview, choose an interview partner who’ll give you constructive criticism on your performance, as well as offering their own interview tips.
Treat the experiment like a real interview — dress in the clothing you’ll wear on the day, and run through questions just as you would with a hiring manager. You might even consider filming it, so that you can see how your mannerisms come across.
5. Dress the part.
Unless you’re interviewing for a job in an industry with a traditional dress code, you can probably skip the suit. But you should look snazzier than you would on an average day at the office (and more dressed up than your potential coworkers, if the company is very relaxed). Shoot for business casual, and make sure all of your clothing is clean, pressed and free of dangling threads, stains or holes.
6. Fake confidence.
Unless you’re an extremely self-assured person, you’re probably a little nervous during interviews. Use this experience to help you fake confidence until you develop it for real, by concentrating on your posture, body language and way of expressing yourself. (Hint: purge “I’m sorry” from your vocabulary, speak more slowly than feels comfortable — and don’t be afraid of pauses.)
Purge “I’m sorry” from your vocabulary, speak slowly and don’t be afraid of pauses. #interviewtips
7. Be courteous to your interviewer.
Show up on time, greet them with a smile and a handshake, and listen attentively instead of waiting for your chance to speak. Be a good conversational partner, and act like someone they’d want to see around the office every day. After the interview is over, be sure to send a thank-you note.
8. Don’t start negotiating salary at the first interview.
It’s tempting to bring up salary right out of the gate, but resist the urge. Delaying the conversation lets you learn more about the role and the duties involved, which might change your assessment of a reasonable salary for the job. It also gives you time to impress the interviewer with your skills, which might change their estimation of where you land in the salary range.
9. Be authentic.
You want to be your best self at job interviews … but you still need to be yourself. Don’t feel the need to adopt a fake persona to get hired. You won’t be able to keep it up once you’re working there, and you might find yourself stuck in a role that’s a bad fit.
10. Know your worth.
Although the salary negotiation phase may be a long way off, it still pays to know how much you’d ask for, if pressed to give a number today. Take the PayScale Salary Survey and find out what your skills are worth on the job market, based on thousands of responses from people in your industry. Then, if you do have to name your price, you’ll know that the salary range that you give is appropriate — and most importantly, that it’s what you deserve.
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