You’ve made it through resume screening and landed an all-important interview! This is a crucial moment for you to shine and show that you’re the perfect person for the job. Here’s how to make that all important first impression count.
1. come prepared.
Research your potential employer and the requirements of the job beforehand. Coming armed with knowledge is the best way to be confident in your answers. Taking the initiative to get to know the company also shows off your enthusiasm for the job. How do you prepare? Here are a few things you should have ready:
- Several copies of your resume, double and triple checked for typos
- Prepare a short1-minutee bio – this will help you get the interview started if the interviewer begins with a general question like ‘tell me about yourself’
- Reread the job description and ensure you understand all requirements of the position
- Prepare answers to common interview questions, such as your strengths and weaknesses, why you’re interested in the job, and questions about your experiences and various skills.
- Research on the company you’re interviewing with
- Know where you’re interviewing, the route to get there, and leave yourself plenty of time to get there 5-10 minutes early
2. dress the part.
Clean, professional business attire is never out of place. Even if the dress code at the place you’re interviewing at is casual, dressing professionally shows that you care about making a good impression. Unless the interviewer specifically requests that you dress another way, you can adhere to the business-casual rule. Keep in mind different industries have slightly different rules. For instance, as financial analyst, you may be required to wear a suit. As a welder, however, khakis and a button down may fit the bill. Use your best judgment. If you’re feeling especially inspired, try wearing a company colour or a subtle statement piece like a unique bracelet or pattern. Be sure not to go overboard though – subtlety is the name of the game. You want to be memorable, but not obnoxious.
3. don’t over-rehearse.
Answers that are too pat and rehearsed can sound inauthentic. Remember that interviewing is supposed to be an organic process! Your interviewer is looking for your honest answers, not canned responses. We all know interviewing can be stressful. That said, keeping calm and relaxed, even under pressure will help set both you and your interviewer at ease. It’s a given that you’re going to practice answers beforehand. So how do you keep your answers from sounding like soundbites you practiced to death? Try preparing written bullet points instead of practicing verbal responses. You’ll still have talking points ready, but will be forced to paraphrase when answering questions aloud.
4. use your personality.
Your work experience and skills are only part of what’s being evaluated during an interview. Most interviewers are also looking for employees who they connect with; people who they feel will fit into the company culture. Even if you’re a perfect candidate on paper, if you don’t connect with the employer, you may find you’re edged out by another candidate who ‘gets’ the company culture. Show off your personality by:
- Using your body language. You’d be surprised how far a smile and friendly body language can go. Avoid hunching in your chair or sitting stiffly with your arms crossed.
- Being enthusiastic. Employers are looking for employees who care about their work. If you seem apathetic about the job, it’s a major red flag.
- Sharing personal anecdotes. Though it can be easy to keep your guard up, providing a little insight into yourself and your motivations can work to your advantage. Just take care not to go overboard and cross any professional boundaries.
- Listening closely and asking meaningful questions. When the interviewer asks ‘do you have any questions for me?’ use the opportunity. Saying no can read as uninterested.
5. follow up afterward.
Once the interview is done, and you’re feeling pretty good about how you handled it, remember there’s still one important step left: follow up. Send a thank you note to your interviewer within 24 hours. Most likely you’ll do this through email, though a handwritten note by mail also works if you want to be a little different. Thank them for their time, and don’t forget to add a personalized touch – a little throwback to something that was discussed during your interview. This is key to a more memorable note that’s different from everyone else’s.
Ultimately interviews are about you and your interviewer determining if you’re the right fit for the company. Be yourself and highlight your skills and experience and you’re on the right track!