You have finally transcended the realm of academia and are preparing to enter the professional arena. Whether you’re a seasoned job-seeker who’s ready to test the fields of a different career path, or a complete novice to the world of employment, these tips can help you nail that interview.
Whatever the trajectory you’re moving at, your first obstacle – and also the most important one to overcome – is making sure you are prepared.
Now don’t go into full panic-mode just yet; remember that the vast majority of employed individuals have had to endure some form of a vetting process some time during their job search.
One should always keep in mind that the most fear-inducing factor in an upcoming interview is the one that you’ve created in your own psyche, so don’t let your imagination run wild - just go with the flow.
To add to the interview tips we gave readers last year, here are some more to keep in mind:
Tip #1: Understand the company and their mission
Besides researching the company you’re applying to, make sure you’re looking for the right information.
What is the company’s biggest selling point? What are they known for? What are their accomplishments and who are their biggest target groups?
Make sure you mention how your skill-set can be applied to their company in a beneficial way. Don’t just tell them you’re competent for the role, show them that you put thought into the position you’re applying to by reiterating the company’s needs or goals and offer ways in which you could help them get there.
Of course, use your discretion; don’t point out weaknesses in the company; being positive is more likely to create a better rapport-building environment between you and the interviewer.
Tip #2: Try to Keep Your Resume to one page
If your resume exceeds a single page, then you need to trim the fat and reconsider what your most important attributes and contributions are.
A bunch of fluff won’t help you – you might assume that a multiple-page resume will give the appearance of your being a well-seasoned pro to the eyes of the hiring manager, but with so many resumes to look through, a long one might just get tossed to the side simply for not being, well, simple enough.
If your resume is not long enough or if you haven’t had any job experience prior to fill out the gaps, you may list any volunteer work, community service, academic programs or leadership roles you’ve taken on, but make sure you include what you did for the position you were fulfilling in ways that exhibit the value you added to the team.
Tip #3: Always create a cover letter for the job you want
There are several templates online that show you how to create a standard cover letter, which should be custom-tailored and specifically written to the company you're interviewing for. A quick Google search can reveal the head of HR of the company, or hiring manager's name. This is who you want to address in your cover letter, if possible.
Make sure your tone is professional but don’t forget to let your personality shine through. Many more creative companies will skim through the resumes and read the cover letters first to see if your personality stands out and fits their environment.
Tip #4: Practice makes perfect
Rehearsing your answers will keep them fresh in your mind. Recruit friends and family members to help you do mock interviews and have them ask questions pertaining to the position you want.
The more people, the better; you’ll see the various questions that may or may not be brought to the table during your actual interview.
Tip #5: Dress your Best
Most would agree that when you look good, you FEEL good. Having the perfect interview outfit doesn’t mean you have to spend an arm and a leg to look presentable. J.ING has carefully curated a collection of Interview Outfits that will have you looking like a boss lady already.
Like it or not, interviewers will judge you by your appearance, so make sure you take care of all your grooming ahead of time. Check your teeth, smooth your hair, check for stains, clean up your nails and give yourself one of these in the mirror:
Tip #6: Arrive at least 15 minutes early
Perhaps parking space is limited, or you make a wrong turn along the way. Stressing out about making it on time can throw you off your game, so arrive early and go over some facts about the company or prepare some questions to ask your interviewer.
TIP #7: Take Your Time
Let’s face it, sometimes the interviewer throws a curve ball at you with a question that is hard to answer; take your time! Rushing an answer might leave both of you feeling flustered.
If you don’t have an answer or are drawing a blank, let the interviewer know that you like their question and that you might have to think about it a bit more and revisit it later.
Tip #8: Use Quantifiable data
Don’t just list your job duties and expect that to qualify you for the job. Highlight how you added value with actual results-based data.
Did you take on any projects that improved the company’s sales? Maybe you reduced the amount of warehouse errors and subsequent customer complaints by more than half within a 30-day period.
Be resourceful with your achievements; think critically about all of the tasks you performed to find the ways in which you excelled at each. It might feel like you're exaggerating minor achievements, but these small gains add up to an overall patchwork picture of your abilities.
Tip #9: Don't be Afraid to Ask
Chances are, you aren’t too clear in some areas of the interview, so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification; ask them what they're seeking in an applicant that would sway their decision. Let them know you are earnest about working for them.
Tip #10: Send a “thank you” Note
Sending a Thank You note to your interviewer afterwards can be helpful in keeping you fresh in their minds. The little bit of effort to thank them for their time can be quite precious, even if it doesn’t land you the job. It’s a good practice to upkeep and could prompt the interviewer to keep your resume on file for other openings that come up.
A handwritten note goes further than a digital one. Be sure to thank them for their time and let them know you feel good about the company. Mention something that was said during the interview, whether it’s something the interviewer said about the job that stood out to you. This will show that you were listening and that you valued their time and input.
Tip #11: Congratulate Yourself!
No matter how you did in the interview, congratulate yourself for having put yourself through it and coming out in one piece. Every interview will help you to conquer your fears of the next one and help you form an idea of what you can do to improve in the future.
We'll be seeing you in the workforce!