Job interviews aren’t always fun, but they are an important part of landing a gig. And if you want to land a competitive job with dozens of other applicants, you have to look and sound the part (both on paper and in person).
4 Tips for a Stellar Job Interview
With unemployment numbers much higher now than they’ve been in several years, the competition for available jobs has been heightened. And if you want to stand any chance of getting a job that you’re interested in, you have to take the interview process very seriously.
Keeping this in mind, here are several tips and techniques that will set you up for long-term success:
- Show Up Prepared
The first step is to show up to the interview prepared. This means doing your research on the company, the position, and even the people who will be interviewing you. At a bare minimum, you’ll want to know:
- What skills and experiences the company is looking for in employees.
- What the company’s core values and mission are.
- Names and basic background information for key members of the organization.
- News and recent events about the employer.
- Basic info about clients, products, and services.
- The background of the person interviewing you.
That might seem like a lot of work, but it’ll almost certainly pay off.
“Remember that your objective is to be convincing when you say, ‘I want to work at your company,’” career counselor Lily Zhang writes. “Back this up by being able to talk about what makes the company unique, and express your enthusiasm by showing off your knowledge.”
As you answer questions, you can tactfully weave in answers that show you know your stuff. This will impress the interviewers and give you a sense of confidence as you speak.
- Wear the Right Interview Attire
What you wear has as much of an impact on an interviewer’s first impression as almost anything else. Show up well-dressed and you’ll instantly look more hirable.
It’s best if you can find out what to wear ahead of time. If the interview doesn’t stipulate, you may be able to call ahead and talk to an assistant. You can also study the company’s website and social media pages to see if there are any pictures of the office and the team. If everyone is wearing suits, then you probably should too. But if there are t-shirts and jeans, then you can probably get away with something more casual.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s better to show up over-dressed than under-dressed. A suit jacket and a pair of slacks is always a good idea.
- Ask the Right Questions
While you’ll be the one answering most of the questions in an interview, it’s always a good idea to pepper in a few questions of your own. This shows that you’re engaged, thoughtful, and curious. Here are some good ones:
- What will a typical day look like for me?
- What are some of the most pertinent projects that need to be addressed?
- What’s one area of improvement that you’re looking for?
- Who would I be in direct communication with on a daily basis?
- What sort of goals and metrics will I be measured against?
You’ll have to judge when it’s appropriate to ask questions versus when it’s not. However, there will be plenty of moments to weave in these questions during the process.
- Ace the Follow-Up
Most people give out a big sigh of relief after the interview is done and go relax. But the interview doesn’t end when you shake hands and head back to your car. The follow-up is just as important.
When following up, there are a few key things you can do:
- Send an email the same day that thanks the interviewer for their time, restates your interest in the job, and lets them know that you’re happy to provide any additional information if it’s needed.
- Put a handwritten note in the mail thanking the interviewer for the opportunity. Keep it short and simple, yet personal.
- Check in with the company every several days to see how the interview process is going and to remind them that you’re willing to provide any additional information or resources they may need.
Your follow-up might not land you the job, but if it’s between you and someone else, your persistence could be the deciding factor.
Give it Everything You’ve Got
Most people get so focused on landing an interview that they ultimately forget to put as much time and energy into preparing for the interview as they should. But if you want to set yourself up for success, it starts with having an interview strategy. Hopefully, this article has given you some useful tips for how to leave a lasting impression.