Job interviews. We’ve all had them, we’ve all rocked them, and we’ve probably all blown at least one of them, too. Resumes and LinkedIn accounts and great references are all important and have their place, but the job interview is your chance to show your potential employer how well you’ll do, how you’ll represent the company, and how well you’ll fit in. Thousands of books have been written on the subject of how to be more effective in an interview, but a lot of that information can be boiled down into these seven key points:
- Be punctual: My mom used to say, “If you show up on time, you’re already ten minutes late.” Arrive ten to fifteen minutes early for your interview – and leave yourself a few extra if you aren’t exactly sure where the office or meeting room is.
- Look the part: Plan your outfit ahead of time, iron/steam everything, get a little crazier than usual with the lint-roller, and give yourself some extra time on the morning of your interview in case any spills or rips happen and you need to find something else. Never hurts to throw a Tide to Go pen in your purse or briefcase, either. Ladies, go light with your makeup – there are studies out there that prove people subconsciously think women with heavier makeup are less trustworthy than their fresher-faced counterparts.
- Have them at ‘Hello’: Master your “I mean business” handshake – try to aim for a happy medium somewhere in between bone-crushing and dead fish. Upon meeting your interviewer, look them in the eye as you firmly shake their hand, and say the person’s name as you greet them: “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. ______!”
- Be authentic: Don’t speak ‘at’ your interviewer as though you’ve written out your answers and practiced them over and over in the mirror. Obviously you have, which is good, but try your best to make it seem natural. Interviewers can spot phoniness in a second. So breathe, smile, and be genuine.
- Be careful with humour: Joking around with your interviewer can work out great, but it’s dangerous territory. A little laughter lightens the mood and calms nerves (interviewers get nervous, too!), and who wouldn’t want someone fun like you on their team?! But be aware that what’s funny to you, may not be funny to someone else. If you’re daring enough to crack a joke, ensure it’s appropriate and respectful, and presented in a professional, well-timed manner.
- Ask questions: Come prepared with three or four questions you want to ask. Don’t include questions related to pay, benefits, vacation, etc. Do your research and put some real thought into it, because not having anything to ask shows a lack of interest in the role or organization, and it can appear as though you think you already know all there is to know.
- Thank the interviewer – twice: Upon leaving, be sure to give your sincere thanks to the interviewer for their time as you shake hands goodbye. The next day, send a follow up email, expressing your thanks once again. If you met with more than one person, send a separate note to each of them. It doesn’t have to be lengthy – just a few sentences, and it’ll help you stand out.