Job interviews can be stressful and often feed our “impostor syndrome”. What if they notice right off the bat that I’m not qualified enough? Why did I even apply to that job? Yikes! Our brain gets naturally panicky when it faces the unknown and fails to understand how to act.
That’s why interview preparation is so hugely important. By coaching yourself on what to anticipate and how to act in advance, you’ll be more calm and confident during the big day. And here are some of the best interview tips to help you with that.
To show your best self during the day X, practice your game plan in advance. Here’s what you should do.
1. Read Up on The Employer
Before you go on a date with someone, what do you do these days? Right, get on Google and social media. Target those well-honed web research skills at learning as much as you can about your new employer.
Because just like in love life, it’s all about finding the right fit. Companies want to hire people that share the same principles and values as they do. So learn what their ‘type’ is before you enter the room. Specifically:
- Try to learn about the company’s value, mission, and operating principles. Most corporate “About Us” sections have that data.
- Get to know a bit more about their leadership — what’s their story, why did they launch the business, what motivates to keep them going.
- Peruse any other employee materials, circulating the web. Many companies have publicly available “Codes of Conduct” and other types of collateral, introducing their brand.
Also, learning more about the company will help you to answer questions in the same sort of language that they commonly use will make you appear more like a person that will fit in well with the company culture. And that’s a good thing because research suggests that interviewers rate candidates ‘just like them’ more favorably.
2. Practise the Common Interview Questions
No matter which position you are applying for, you’ll be sure to ask some of these common interview questions such as:
- Can you please tell us something about yourself?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Why should we hire you?
Also, the interviewer may throw in some behavioral interview questions to get a better sense of your overall personality and interpersonal skills.
In either case, you shouldn’t a) flinch b) scramble to find words or c) provide a generic reply. The goal of a job interview is to help you add extra context to the information you’ve already provided in your resume and cover letter.
As you are preparing for an interview, create a set of key talking points that dwell deeper into your work experience, accomplishments, and relevant job training you have undertaken. Then try to mentally pair these with the common interview questions.
By prepping a list of ideas, rather than written replies, you’ll ensure that you don’t sound too rehearsed during the interview, but still well-prepared to talk shop.
3. Plan Your Outfit The Night Before
Whenever you think about job interviews, you always imagine a smartly dressed interviewer and job candidates all probably wearing business suits. However, appearances can be deceptive! You must indeed think carefully about what you wear to your job interview.
You don’t want to turn up looking a little disheveled or dressed casually when everyone around you is dressed a bit more sophisticated. This will give off the impression that you have put no effort into your interview and that you are not really serious about taking the position.
As a rule of thumb, business casual attire is the best way to go. Unless you are applying to a higher-level corporate job (legal, banking, c-suite business positions) with a traditional employer. Then go with your smartest business suit.
4. Try to Negotiate an Early Morning Interview
Our brain is inherently wired to like the ‘first’ thing we see the most as research found. The first item on the menu, the first pair of boots, or even the first job applicant we meet during the interview day. Thus, negotiating an early interview with HR can increase your odds of being liked.In addition, by stepping to the interview room first, you avoid getting instantly compared against other job candidates, scheduled for the same day. This can win you some extra points too.
5. Plan Your Route in Advance
Send a quick email to HR the day before to reconfirm all the arrangements. Ask for:
- Full address
- Any extra access instructions.
The last thing you want during the job interview day is to frantically run around a huge business campus, struggling to locate the right building or entrance.
Don’t forget to pack your interview bag too. You can learn what to bring to a job interview from our previous post.
6. Get There Early
On the day of your interview, plan to arrive early. This way you are guaranteed not to be late should any mishap occur, such as public transport running late, roadworks causing delays, or getting stuck in heavy traffic.
Arriving early for your interview will allow you to gather your thoughts and get focussed before you walk into the room. If you have penned yourself a little crib sheet to read or you want to perform some breathing exercises to steady your nerves, allowing yourself some extra time to prepare will pay off greatly.
As Alison Brooks, Harvard Business School professor, told Glamour magazine, having a pre-interview ritual is a great way to distract your brain from nervousness. Plus, “ enhance physical and mental readiness, increase a feeling of control.”
The Job Interview Tips
You already planned out your act. Now you need to deliver it. Below are several essential tips for doing great on the interview day.
7. Give a Firm Handshake
Yes, something as simple as an earnest handshake can increase your chances of getting hired as psychologists determined. Based on a focus group assessment, a firm handshake transposes some of the candidate’s extraversion on the interviewer, meaning that they feel more positive towards them although the interview.
What’s even more curious is the correlation between positive hiring recommendations and a firm handshake is stronger for women. So gals, give that arm a hearty squeeze!
8. Maintain Positive Eye-Contact
Enter your interview with confidence. Walk in with a good posture and your head held high. Believe in yourself. After all, they would be lucky to have you on their team so you have to show them that you are worth a chance.
Make eye contact with your interviewer during your first greeting and whenever they are speaking directly to you. This doesn’t mean staring them down though! You can look away or break your gaze by checking your notes.
You will want to come across as friendly and relaxed, so if you feel the nerves welling up in your stomach, make sure that you smile. A smile will make you feel better, as well as convey to your interviewer that you are friendly and approachable.
9. Fall Back to “Fillers” When You Need Time to Think
To avoid awkward pauses and ‘ummmm’ sounds during your interview, come up with a list of go-to phrases when you need a few more minutes to gather your thoughts.
Here are several good options to keep at the back of your mind as Dr. Joseph Barber from Penn State University suggests:
- Let me see. Slowly reiterate their question.
- Wow, that’s an interesting question. Let me have a few minutes to think this through.
- Typically, that’s not the topic I discuss quite often, but I’d probably say that …
- You know, I was actually thinking about this question the other day and I came to the conclusion that …
And if you are faced with a particularly tough question you don’t fully understand, try something like this: “ I am wondering if you can just clarify what you mean by…”
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions Too
Believe it or not, job interviews are supposed to be a two-way conversation. So you should never leave a job interview with questions still circling your head.
In fact, asking your interviewer some on-point questions can help you get some extra points. Remember the company background research you did pre-interview? Use it to form targeted questions. For example:
- Can you tell me a bit more about [Company Project]? I was really fascinated when reading about it the other day.
- Thinking back to people who have been in this position earlier, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were great?
- What would you expect me to accomplish in this role within the next 60/90 days?
Asking questions will show that you are interested in the position and will make you more likely to stick in the interviewer’s mind afterward when they are making their decision.
11. End On A Positive Note
Once the interview draws to an end, it can sometimes feel you are coming down from a bit of a roller-coaster ride. If it was a particularly grueling or intense interview, both interviewer and candidate can sometimes be left feeling a little mentally drained and deflated.
Rather than walking out of the room on an exhausted note, try to end the interview positively. This could be as simple as standing up, shaking the interviewer’s hand, and saying, “Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.” Finish this with a friendly nod and a positive smile.
Try to walk out of the interview room just as you walked in – with a confident posture and your head held high. Never slump or hang your head as you exit, no matter how tiring the interview may have been. Remember – they are still watching you!
Video Interview Tips
Considering the new work-from-home reality, many companies have forgone in-person interviews in favor of remote ones over Zoom or Skype. While going through the interview ordeal may seem a bit more comforting, video job interviews have their unique host of challenges to account for — from impromptu pet appearances to glitching Internet connection, or outside noise.
When it comes to the conversation itself, use the interview tips above (except for the handshake one), plus some extra ones:
12. Adjust Your Speech
A glitchy web connection can make your perfectly normal pace and tone of speech sound pretty distorted over video. So do some ‘practice’ talk with a friend over Zoom. In particular, pay attention to:
- Your speech pace. Don’t rush and chew on words. Try to speak a bit slower to ensure that all the information lands well with the other person.
- The way you pause. As connection lags sometimes, be sure to make natural pauses in your speech.
- Your tone. During video interviews, the tone of your voice replaces all the other body language. So rely more on your voice to communicate your enthusiasm, convey excitement about the opportunity, or otherwise get across the important points.
13. Keep Some Cheat Notes
During a video interview, you have a lavish opportunity to keep your speaking notes at the line of sight. So that when you struggle to pull in a nice number or example, you can fall back on these.
But don’t overly rely on these. The interviewer will eventually notice that something is off and think that you are distracted, or worse — incapable of speaking coherently without your props.
14. Mind Your Posture
A job interview is all about projecting confidence. Your posture is a sure-fire giveaway of how comfortable you are feeling. So don’t let it giveaway your nerves during the video call. Or, on the contrary, the overly relaxed vibe of slouching at home.
To appear more pulled together, pull your chair away from the table, and position yourself on the edge of your seat. Put both feet on the ground, and both hands on the tabletop. Then adjust your camera if needed, so that 78% of your upper body is in the line of sight.
Bonus: Phone Interview Tips!
Phone interviews still remain hugely popular, both for pre-screening job candidates and as the first job interview round.
Previously, we tackled 6 popular phone interview questions, along with ways to answer them effectively. Again, just like with an in-person (or video) job interview, you should plan your answers, but don’t rehearse them word-by-word.
Plus, we also shared 12 actionable phone interview tips. They are just as good and data-backed as the ones we’ve rounded up for face-to-face interviews.
Lastly, remember: a job interview is a two-way conversation, not a one-way interrogation. Interact with the counterpart, ask for their input when needed, engage them in a discussion, and weave in your key points whenever the opportunity presents itself!