Interview 101: How to Get the Job You Want
Scoring an interview is one thing. Knowing how to ace it requires a class of its own.
To be the most memorable candidate, there are specific things you should do (and not do). From appropriate body language to the intricacies of what to wear, we’ll tell you how to score the coveted role you’re after.
As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Surely, this rings true in any interview scenario. Demonstrate your interest in the organization by researching the company ahead of time. Make the effort to learn about their business model and their competition within the market. Show that you’re well prepared with your knowledge of other industry news that is relevant to the role you’re interviewing for. Additionally, reach out to your professional network to anyone you know who currently works, or has worked, for the company. This will provide you with intel that may not be privy to others.
Ask the Right Questions, Give the Right Answers
Making a list of questions that could potentially arise in an interview allows you to practise your answers beforehand. This way, you’ll be more comfortable in real-life situations. However, you do not want to come across as too rehearsed. An obviously recited answer you say at every interview will set you apart – but not in a good way. Touch on points that highlight your achievements. Provide examples of how you have been successful in previous roles. By anticipating questions ahead of time, you reduce the risk of being caught off guard when it really counts.
That being said, an interview is a two-way street. Being prepared with questions you want to ask will aid in determining if the company aligns with your career goals. As a result, it will help facilitate the conversation. Ask about the company culture or what characteristics are demonstrated by successful employees. Inquire about the type of working conditions you will be exposed to. Furthermore, asking questions based on your own research shows your initiative. It also indicates that you’re truly interested in the role. For more suggestions on the types of questions you should be asking, click here.
Know Your Worth
Equally important is knowing how to navigate salary expectations. Research the market rate pay range for your target role. This enables you to be informed on industry standards. Ultimately, this empowers you to negotiate accurately and confidently. While this may be true, you need to be mindful of company details, such as location and size of the organization. An independently owned start-up may have a vastly different pay scale than a Fortune 500 company who is recruiting for a similarly titled position.
Dress to Impress
An interview outfit would look out of place at the beach – and vice versa. Similarly, knowing whether the organization adheres to formal business attire or takes a more casual approach will help you decide on how to make the best first impression. Either way, it’s important to put thought into your interview outfit.
Formal or Casual?
Formal business dress is polished and reserved. For men, think a suit jacket, tie, and dress pants. Alternatively, a sweater worn with a collared dress shirt would work. Women should consider a pair of slacks, blouse and a blazer. A statement dress or skirt is also suitable. However, one must consider the length. Knee-length is considered the most appropriate. Anything too short gives the wrong impression. Remember, it is better to be overdressed than under. Shoes should be well-polished and in good condition, not scuffed or run-down at the heels. They should also match your belt. You can add accessories to reflect your personal style, but make sure they are understated. Often less is more.
When interviewing at an organization with a more lenient dress code, you still need to show care. Specifically, your clothes should always be clean and wrinkle-free. Also, ensure they fit properly. Fidgeting with an ill-fitting outfit is off-putting. It distracts from the main purpose of why you’re there: to showcase that you are the ideal candidate for the role. Similarly, avoid loudly patterned prints, bright colours, or pieces that could be distracting. Subtle and reserved are always safe bets. Above all, never wear flip-flops!
Does Your Body Language Match Your Words?
Dressing and speaking the part are two thirds of what makes for a successful interview. Did you know that 55% of how you communicate stems from your non-verbal actions? Your body language can send a powerful message; be sure you’re conveying a positive one.
Smiling and shaking your interviewer’s hand upon meeting them is a universal greeting. A firm one demonstrates assured confidence. Likewise, when palms are up, it signals honesty. “It’s one of the reasons we shake hands, to show the open palm,” explains Patti Wood, body language expert. “It’s so tied to survival instincts … If we don’t see open palm gestures, it puts us on our guard.”
Make eye contact – but not directly. Instead, focus on a different part of your interviewer’s face every two seconds. This shows that you’re engaged while remaining natural and relaxed. With this in mind, you should also nod your head occasionally. It signifies to your interviewer that you understand and are enjoying what is being said.
Avoid crossing your arms as it makes you appear defensive. Fidgeting, twiddling your thumbs, or drumming your fingers on a surface are not only extremely distracting, they make you look impatient and nervous. In other words, its best to remain calm and collected (despite your nerves) to increase your chances of landing the position.
Follow up with Finesse
Sending a thank-you letter or email is of utmost importance in the overall interview process. Not only does it demonstrate proper etiquette, it keeps you fresh in the minds of your interviewers. For this reason, it’s best to send one promptly. Typically, you should send one within 24 hours of your meeting. Neglecting this element puts your candidacy in jeopardy.
A well-written thank you note does not have to be long. Namely, its primary function is to show your appreciation for the time your interviewer spent with you. Furthermore, it will reiterate why you are the best applicant for the role.
For more information on how to be successful in obtaining an interview, let Opus Resumes & Consulting help you prepare with any of our professional tools. To schedule a coaching session or a mock interview, click here.
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