My recent press release on interviewing tips for upcoming high school and college graduates was picked up by many publications. For my blog this week I have adapted those suggestions to help job seekers of all ages alleviate the jitters associated with interviewing.
1. Prepare meaningful discussion points. Know “the stories of your life.” Think of positive, specific examples ahead of time that demonstrate your competency; such as how you handled rude customers or difficult employees, and use these illustrations when you answer questions.
2. Practice interviewing with a colleague or friend. You will learn where you stumble or whether you use “like” or “um.” Be open to the feedback that you are given. Anticipate the tough questions and know how you will answer them. You can also hire a coach to help prepare you for the interview.
3. Do your research. Visit the company’s website, and become a fan if they have a Facebook page. Talk to people who work there. Your LinkedIn contacts may help you identify people that work or have worked at the company.
4. Wear a business suit. When interviewing for most jobs in corporate America, it’s usually best to wear a suit—even if the company has a business casual dress policy. Sometimes you will be told what to wear and you should follow those guidelines. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed.
5. Shake hands twice. Believe it or not, one of the simplest things you can do to convey a sense of confidence and professionalism is to shake hands properly at the beginning of the interview and at the end. And shake hands with everyone in the room.
6. Be enthusiastic. Many candidates have good job skills, but they seem passive during the interview. You need to be engaging. Don’t slouch, avoid nervous gestures like hair twirling, look the interviewer in the eye, and smile during the interview. Answer the questions clearly and concisely. If you act confidently, others will perceive you that way (even if that’s not how you feel on the inside.)
7. Have questions to ask. You will usually be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer. Prepare a couple of questions ahead of time and ask them. It shows your interest in the position. You may also choose at the end of the interview to ask something like, “Do you have any reservations about hiring me?” or “How do you see my skill set matching up with the position?”
8. Send thank-you notes. Write to each of the people who interviewed you. An emailed thank- you note is acceptable in most situations.
9. Learn from each interview. What worked? What can you improve upon? Review the questions you were asked. How did you answer them? How will you answer them in the future?