Preparation is key for job interviews
Elise shares her tips on how to make sure you've everything covered
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What’s the best way to present yourself to an employer that will finagle a future position through an interview?
Prepare, rinse, and repeat.
Dress for the Occasion
First impressions really are everything, especially when being interviewed for a job. What you wear to an interview tells a story about the person you are, perhaps even more greatly than your CV. This is especially true if you show up badly dressed. A company will look to hire clean-cut, classy employees who will represent it well in both appearance and character. Show your interviewer that you are a professional looking to work in a professional setting. It’s difficult to do that when you walk in wearing stained jeans, scuffed runners, and a t-shirt that screams your favorite band.
Certain jobs will require alternate styles. If it’s a high-end corporate job in an office on the 27th floor, perhaps opt for a tailor-fitted suit. If it’s working for a company that graphically designs logos, it might be a bit more casual. In any case, it’s best to prepare to impress through formal dress. Here are some tips.
For men: Dark gray or navy suit, simple white shirt, black shoes with corresponding black socks. Clean fingernails, combed hair, and brushed teeth.
For women: Dark gray, navy, or black skirt suit, non-patterned light or white blouse, nude or black tights, black close-toed heels. Pulled-back hair, glasses instead of contacts, less/no perfume.
Gender neutral: Dark gray or black suit, white or light shirt or blouse, low-heeled black shoes, groomed hair.
Research The Company
During an interview, it’s very likely the interviewer will ask you about the company, your thoughts on what could be improved, or why you applied for the position. Even if you’ve applied simply because you need a job, it’s a sign of respect, dedication, and interest to research the place you applied to. This is an easy way to have an upper hand during the interview and could differentiate you from other possible candidates. Researching the company might also give you some insight as to what that company is looking for in their employees, including how you might dress for the interview. Consider looking into past accomplishments of the company. What have they succeeded in doing, and why is it unique? How does this pique your interests? Research the people who accomplished those feats. Perhaps your interviewer is one of them.
Practice Your Answers
It’s normal to research possible interview questions and practice how you might answer. In fact, it will help tremendously when you’re put on the spot to answer them and it counts toward a job. Choose some questions listed in our article, “What will an interviewer ask you?” or research online the most common questions asked in an interview for that type of job. Ask a friend or family member to sit down with you and ask those questions as if they were interviewing you for the job and hear their feedback. If they’re older, they likely know the drill of job interviews and can give you tips.
Choose questions that you think might be relevant for the job you’re applying for. Keep an open mind and don’t limit yourself to just a few questions. It will help if you know your CV as well as you can. This will represent your credibility. Recalling what part you played in an event or situation concisely and clearly will leave a good impression on your employer. Preparing for an interview takes work, but it’s worth it to show up and know how to answer questions. Your stress levels will be significantly lower for it.
Your answers should be positive and well-representing, keeping in mind that how you start off the conversation will likely be the impression your interviewer will have of you overall. Practice listening without interrupting and pay attention to what your interviewer asks and says. The questions asked will be as neutral as possible with minimal “No/Yes” answer questions.
Be prepared with some questions to ask your interviewer, as well. When you go into an interview, you’re making a statement that you want to pursue that job. When you ask questions about the company or institution you’re applying to, you show that you researched of that job and that you’re interested in learning more. This will also leave a positive impression on your interviewer.
Bring a Pen
When you step out of the interview, jot down notes of the key points that you and your interviewer discussed. Think about what you asked and how they responded, any highlights that stood out to you during the interview, and anything else you might remember that might be of value in future interviews with that company. If you’re invited back for a second interview, you’ll have your notes from the first to prepare you.