When looking for a new job, hearing back from a company that wants to interview you can be quite the confidence booster. Clearly you nailed your résumé and cover letter, now the final step is to make the best impression you possibly can on the hiring manager to show that you are the right candidate for the position. This can feel intimidating as it puts a lot of pressure on you to do well. Luckily, there are techniques you can put to use to make your interview as successful as possible.
Dress to Fit the Culture
You are probably used to hearing the phrase “dress to impress” when it comes to an interview. While that concept still rings true, it doesn’t have the same meaning it once did. A few decades ago, nearly all companies had a professional dress code as they wanted to be seen as polished and prestigious. In today’s world, many companies take pride in their more casual and laid back atmosphere. When you show up to an interview, it’s important that you demonstrate your understanding of their culture by showing up in attire that matches their company values. Gone are the days of showing up to every interview in a business suit. As you’re dressing to impress, keep the aesthetic of their brand in mind. If you’re not sure what to wear, business casual is always a safe bet.
When I was in college, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was, “the secret to not being late is to be early”. I’ll seriously never forget that. When leaving for an interview, it’s best to leave around 20 minutes earlier than you need to. This way, in the case you get stuck behind an accident, caught in unexpected traffic, or accidentally make a wrong turn, you will be able to make up for the lost time without becoming stressed out. The stress of possibly not being on time will only put you in a negative headspace which could affect your performance during the interview.
Being early also makes you look together and well-prepared. If you arrive early, you will be able to observe the office/site a bit and gage the dynamic among future colleagues. You will also likely get to meet more people and will have the time to fill out paperwork if need be, without cutting into actual interview time.
This begins before you even arrive at the office. Be sure that you greet everyone; including the person at the door, people in the elevator, and the people you pass on the way to the interview room. You never know who you’re talking to or what connection the people you encounter have to the person interviewing you. The interactions you have prior to the interview can make or break the entire process. Remember, the interview starts before you even say anything.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Communication extends beyond just the things you say. Eye contact, posture, and the gestures you make will all make you appear both confident and refined. The interviewer wants to see someone with self-pride and eagerness for the position. That is why it is essential that you present yourself as credible without coming off as too uptight. When in the interview, be sure you are facing the person you are speaking with, are sitting tall, and that your facial expressions emanate that of someone who is engaged in the conversation. Also, don’t forget to have a firm handshake.
There are many different components to this. Even though you know they already have your résumé, be sure to bring at least two extra copies in case they ask for another one to look over during the interview. Also, bring your portfolio of past work and a notebook to write down key information that they may tell you during the interview. This will make you stand out, as not many interviewees’ do this. Additionally, do your research on the company prior to the interview. Know who the executives are and what the company does outside of (what would be) your department. Keep in mind – there is no such thing is being over prepared, especially not for a position that you really want.
If the person interviewing you says something that you don’t quite understand, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or a little more detail. This shows that you are interested and will make the conversation more of a dialogue. At the end of the interview, when they ask if you have any questions; have at least a few questions you’re prepared to ask them. Ideally, these would be questions outside of when your start date would be or when you can expect to hear back from them. Ask a question about the company that isn’t stated on the website or something about the company culture. The company wants to hire someone who will be invested in them and their mission. Having questions at the end of the interview will indicate just that.
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