After applying to more jobs than you can count, you finally landed a job interview.
If you don’t want the position, be late for the interview. When you get into the room, slouch, talk about how hungover you are, tell them you have all the skills they’re looking for even if you don’t, and keep your phone on. Focus your conversation on salary, benefits and how soon you can book your vacation. Remember to comment sarcastically if the salary isn’t what you think you’re worth. And don’t forget to call the interviewer ‘dude’.
Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? And yet, HR departments across a variety of companies have files on interviewees like these, their weirdest, wackiest, rudest interview subjects who behave just like this and worse. By the way, these folks didn’t get the job.
If, on the other hand, you’re a responsible, mature, job seeker determined to stand apart from the many others vying for the same position, here are 7 ways to slay at your job interview. Whether or not you get the job in the end, they won’t forget you. For all the right reasons.
1. be like a boy scout (aka be prepared)
In the words of Zig Ziglar, “Success occurs where opportunity meets preparation.” The interview is your opportunity to sell yourself for this position. A successful interview depends on how prepared you are. Do your research. Find out as much about the organization, the industry and the role as you can. The Internet is a great source as is LinkedIn for finding out about the company, what they do and often who works there. They’re probably checking you out online, too. You may find you have something in common which you can bring up during your interview. It’s all about making connections in a positive, professional way.
Have a light, healthy, neutral snack before your interview and stay hydrated. Stress affects your glucose levels, and you want to stay sharp. Floss and brush your teeth before you leave home. You don’t want the interviewer focused on the spinach between your teeth instead of your sparkling conversation.
Make sure you’ve prepared yourself. You’re not going on a date but you are meeting someone new for the first time in a stressful situation on their turf. Looking your best professional self will help you feel confident. Dress for success. Wear professional clothing, even if you suspect it’s a more informal environment. You want them to see you take this opportunity seriously and professionally. You can wear jeans like everyone else once you have the job. Pick out your clothes ahead of time so there’s no last-minute scramble. Do a trial run to the site of your interview if you’re unsure about the location so you don’t get lost on the day. Make sure you arrive early – at least 10 minutes. They’ll see you’re punctual and you’ll have time to practice some deep breathing, visit the washroom and give yourself a final once-over.
2. practice makes perfect
Be prepared for all kinds of questions, the answers to which will tell them how competent you are (you can do the job) and how you function (your behavior) in a variety of situations. Have narratives prepared that talk about your greatest strengths, greatest weaknesses and something that demonstrates how you manage stressful situations and deal with challenges. The Internet has lots of articles on interview questions. Practice answering them aloud, in front of a mirror, so that your responses become conversational and fluent. Or if you have a trusty friend, do some role-playing to increase your confidence. It’s one thing to practice in your head but speaking aloud is another thing all together, and if you’re not prepared, it can throw you off.
3. speak like a professional
Grammar counts. Nothing puts an interviewer off faster than an interviewee responding with something like: “I seen…” Or “So I go… and then he goes…” Use simple, clear, concise language so you sound professional and polite. Avoid putting a marketing spin on your responses, even if the position you’re applying for is in marketing. Jargon can impede your ability to communicate effectively.
4. show off your confidence
There’s a difference between confident and cocky. One attracts people; the other is obnoxious and off-putting. You want to draw people to you, not drive them away. Remember, your body language speaks as loudly as your words. Use positive body language; sit straight and still in your chair, sit forward, maintain eye contact and don’t play with your hair or pick your cuticles. Your interviewer is evaluating you even before you open your mouth.
5. sell your skills
Bring examples of your work and any project samples that reinforce your capabilities and demonstrate your creativity, ability to problem solve, project management skills and flexibility. If you know you have the experience your interviewer is looking for, don't be afraid to talk yourself up.
6. be curious
Great questions are as impressive as great answers. Prepare several questions about the role, the organization, company culture, processes – anything that lets them know you’ve researched and thought meaningfully about the opportunity, how you can fit in and what you can bring to the organization. Remember, this is your opportunity to interview them, to make sure this is an organization you want to work for and a job you want to do.
7. close the deal
Ask about what the next steps are in the interview process. When do they expect to make a decision? Is there any information they don’t have that would help them decide you’re the ideal candidate? Thank your interviewer for their time. Follow up the interview with a personalized thank-you note, featuring one or two of your strongest assets that align with their requirements and what a great fit you’d be for their organization.