Some people thrive on the buzz of a high-pressure situation – but you’re not one of them. The mere thought of a job interview makes your palms sweaty. Yet interviewing is a necessary evil if you want to become an employed and productive member of society. If you suck at face-to-face meetings, these tips will help you gracefully answer questions and face your interview panel with the confidence you need to succeed.
Practice, Prepare, and Plan
You’re serious about kicking your interview’s butt, so you must prepare like a high school student cramming for finals. Print out a list of potential interview questions and write or type your response to every answer.
Sure, this isn’t as fun as watching Netflix or meeting friends for drinks, but it’s the best way to think your way through every question and prepare informative, thoughtful, coherent answers.
Read through your answers for practice and ask a friend or family member to play the role of your interviewer. You could even record yourself in a mock interview, then improve your answers and behaviors accordingly.
Since most employers want to challenge interviewees with tough questions, expect to discuss your past experiences, decision-making processes, leadership, conflict resolution, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.
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Master Your First Impression
Your behavior, appearance, attitude, and body language can speak volumes before your interview begins. You already know not to wear torn cargo shorts, tank tops, flashy jewelry, and a baseball cap to your interview. Plan on looking sharp in a way that’s appropriate for the company or your profession.
Aside from your clothes, these strategic preparations contribute mightily to making a first impression with impact:
- Practice your firm handshake with a family member or friend
- Plan your introduction and greetings
- Arrive 5-10 minutes early
- Hold your head high, stand or sit straight, and maintain a polite smile
- Make eye contact
- Bring a shoulder bag or briefcase to hold copies of your resume or portfolio
Ask Questions and Show What You Know
An interview is more than answering the questions you’re asked. It’s also a time to demonstrate your critical thinking and curiosity by asking your interviewers a few thoughtful questions. Consider these examples as you prepare one or two solid questions:
- What would you like this position/department to accomplish?
- Where do you see the company in five years?
- How does your company measure success?
- What career growth opportunities do you offer to committed employees?
- Is your company open to ideas for innovative uses of resources and ways of doing things?
In addition to asking thought-provoking questions, you can also use your interview as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and experience. Throw in personal anecdotes or statistics to remind your interviewers of your past achievements that would make you a valuable team member.
Follow Up With Your Interviewer
Don’t allow yourself to be lost amongst 40 other job candidates! Send a handwritten letter or email to follow up with your interviewer. It’s best to do it within 24 hours to keep your interview’s memory fresh. This follow-up needn’t be and shouldn’t be long. Just thank your interviewer for her time and reiterate your interest in the job opportunity.
Depending on the tone of your interview, you can also consider tossing in a humorous aside or mentioning a particularly memorable exchange during the interview. The more you can personalize yourself and stick out in your interviewer’s mind, the better!
Above and beyond everything else, remember that your interview is an opportunity to showcase your best qualities and have a conversation demonstrating your capabilities. With a bit of practice and preparation, acing this step on the path to your dream job is definitely within reach.
Virtual Interview Tips
Fewer interviews happen in person these days, and Zoom/video chat interviews are all the rage. While the actual interview process isn’t much different than in person, virtual interviews require a bit of different preparation.
For starters, find the best-lit, quietest place in your home to interview. Even though you won’t physically meet the interviewer, you want to make a positive first visual impression. You should also test your camera and microphone before the interview to avoid any technical difficulties.
If there aren’t any well-lit places with neutral backgrounds in your home, consider using a virtual background during your interview. Lean toward a professional background, though. While a beach or mountain behind you might look great, an interviewer will probably prefer to see a normal room. Presentation is critical, and while a Zoom interview may not be ideal, you can still leave a lasting impression on the interviewer.
The Bottom Line on Interview Tips
No interview tips work perfectly for anyone, so the key is finding the strategy that works to your strengths. By finding an approach that makes you more comfortable, you automatically will come off more confident and composed in your interview. Good luck!