The most important part of a job search is the interview.
Arguably the most important part of a job search is the interview. There are tens of thousands of different jobs out there, and preparing for an interview is not a one-size-fits-all process, but there are a few general tips to keep in mind.
1.) Prepare for the interview ahead of time. Take the time to research the company or business you are interviewing with and the specific position you are interviewing for. What are the names of the hiring manager(s) and/or owner(s)? Make note of who you will be speaking with during the interview and Google them. Also, take the time to review and prepare answers for some common interview questions. There are websites to help with this, including The Muse’s excellent article, “How to Answer the 31 Most Common Interview Questions.” , Finally, do yourself a favor and clean up your social media before your interview. In fact, while you’re at The Muse, go ahead and check out their piece on “How to Clean Up Your Social Media During the Job Search.”
2.) Dress for success. If you have conducted your research, you should have a pretty good idea about how people at a given business generally dress, and you generally want to take that up a single notch for an interview (for example, if jeans and t-shirts are the norm, go for khakis and a tucked-in polo or a blouse/sweater and slacks). In every case, however, your appearance should be neat and clean. Not every interview requires a business suit, but it is almost always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed, so if you’re unsure as to what’s appropriate, go for the dressier option. If you smoke or vape, try not to do so before the interview (if you must smoke, brush your teeth or use mouthwash before going into the interview site). If you chew gum get rid of it before entering the interview site. If you are carrying a cell phone, put it into silent mode (not vibrate – silent).
3.) Be on time, and prepared. Don’t be late! Arrive fifteen minutes before your scheduled interview time. Make sure to give a friendly greeting to everyone you meet, from parking attendants to the interviewer. You should also bring extra copies of your resume/portfolio, a list of professional references and their contact information, a notebook, and a pen in order to take notes.
4.) Be confident, upbeat, honest, and specific. Showcase your skills with every answer, and give specific examples of how you have successfully applied your skills. Not “I am an effective organizer,” but “as supervisor for XYZ Inc., I broke down my team’s assignment into specific jobs, set daily and weekly goals consistent with overall project deadlines, and used my knowledge of the team’s individual strengths and weakness to assign jobs and insure quality work and efficiency.”
5.) Ask questions. When you are doing your research, put together a list of questions you would like answers to, especially about the specific job you are applying for. Some of your questions will likely be answered during the interview, but asking informed, intelligent questions shows the interviewer that you know your stuff, so have some ready.
6.) Thank your interviewer(s) personally, by e-mail, and with a hand written note. After the interview, be sure to thank the people you spoke with, the receptionist or assistant, and even the parking attendant. When you get home, write a quick thank you e-mail to your interviewer, and then hand write a thank you note and drop it in the mail within the next twenty-four hours. This may seem a bit old fashioned, but it is an incredibly quick and easy way to make sure you stand out from other applicants in the interviewer’s mind.