You’ve spent weeks (maybe months) surfing job sites, tweaking your resume and making all of those 6-degrees-of-separation connections available to you to try and land an interview for that elusive “perfect” job. Believe it or not – finding the position and getting your resume in front of the right person was actually the easy part. The hard part is convincing the powers-that-be that you (and not the person sitting next to you in the lobby) are the only one they should even consider hiring. Get ahead of the interview game this hiring season and check out our suggestions of seven things you can do to ensure you make a great first impression at your upcoming job interview.
Do Your Research
Do yourself a favor and brush up on everything you need to know about the position for which you’re applying, the company and even the employee interviewing you for the job. If you do your homework beforehand, it’ll be easier for you to draw similarities during the interview of why you’re the ideal candidate for the position based on previous experience. Plus, you may discover that you have a friend or alma mater in common with the interviewer, which can serve as a valuable anecdote at the top of the interview when you’re eager to break the ice.
Practice Makes Progress
Unfortunately, there’s no way to rehearse an interview perfectly – unless you happen to be a psychic who can see the future or a secret time traveler. When it comes to preparing for a job interview, practice may not make perfect, but it definitely makes progress. Do your best to anticipate questions that the interviewer may ask during your meeting – like Why would you be a good fit for this position? Or Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Be prepared to bring a unique perspective to the interview and rehearse one or two personal stories about times in your career where you stepped up to save the day or learned something about yourself thanks to your professional choices. Also, don’t be afraid to examine those interviews in your past that may not have gone so well. Those encounters are valuable too and allow you to learn from your past experiences – which also happens to be a very valuable asset in a stellar employee.
Dress the Part
You know the saying – dress for the life you want, not the life you have. Put your best self forward at any job interview by dressing like someone who already works there. After all, your interview outfit probably won’t be the thing that makes or breaks the meeting, but it will definitely give the employer an impression as to whether or not you have what it takes to fit in with the professional culture of the job. Don’t be afraid to ask HR what the office dress attire is like when they call to offer you the interview – they may even take note of the extra effort you’re already putting into the position. Regardless of the dress code, don’t wear something to your interview that makes you feel uncomfortable. Your insecurity about how you feel (and look) will undoubtedly translate through body language to insecurity about the position. Instead, opt for a stylish yet professional outfit that makes you feel unique and confident, like a pair of fashionable grey windowpane pants with a crisp white blouse and blazer. Not only will your stylish attire help you stand out from the other applicants, but it’ll also give off the impression that you are exactly the breath of fresh air this company is looking for.
Only Bring the Essentials
Ideally, the only things you really need at a job interview are copies of your resume, references and – of course – your winning smile and sparkling personality. Anything else should probably be left in the car. If you need to bring a purse, computer bag or briefcase in with you, make sure it’s well organized and in good condition so as not to distract from your otherwise polished look. The last thing you want in the middle of a job interview is to shuffle through old papers – or granola bar wrappers – to find the references you could have sworn you brought with you.
Be Pleasant to Everyone
Sure, chances are the college intern at the front desk probably isn’t the one making the hiring decisions in the office but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat her with the same amount of respect and pleasantries that you would the CEO. Aside from your qualifications and personal references, employers are also interviewing you to see how well you would fit in at the office and if you would work well with the other members of their team. The last thing you need after charming their socks off in the interview is for the receptionist to mention that you were rude when she checked you in or made it hard for her to focus on her job because you were on a loud personal call in the lobby.
Show Enthusiasm for the Position
It’s OK to let your interviewer know that you’re excited about being considered for this position. After all, they would much rather hire someone that wants to be there and wants to do a good job over someone that just needs a paycheck. A great way to show your enthusiasm for the position would be to show up early to the interview. Not only does this ensure that you are on time when they’re ready to meet you, but it’ll also give you a moment to settle your nerves, use the restroom and repeat your best “I got this” mantra when no one is looking.
When you actually make it to the table, let the interviewer know that you’re happy to be there and appreciate the opportunity to apply. And don’t let your nerves get the better of you. Remain engaged during the meeting by maintaining eye contact, flashing a smile on occasion and asking questions about the position. The more relaxed you are during the process will show them that you are more than ready to dive into this exciting opportunity – and that’s exactly what they want.
Follow Up with a Thank You
Chances are you’re not the only person they’re interviewing for the position. Do your best to stand out amongst the rest with a timely and brief “thank you” via email, note or phone call. Thank the interviewer for meeting with you and, in one or two lines, give your best sell as to why you think you would be the perfect fit for their position. If they haven’t made up their minds yet, hopefully, the personalized thank you note will put you over the edge into the “must hire” column before they even reach your witty yet professional salutations.
Interviewing for a new job doesn’t have to be stressful. Follow these seven easy tips to make a great first impression on your next meet and greet, and you’ll be the one calling the shots in no time.
****Special thanks to Simone Scanga for this guest post!****