Interviews are your best chance to make a good impression and connect with the hiring manager. No pressure, right?
A Harris Interactive and Everest College survey found that 92% of Americans have at least some fear of interviews. The most common concern was being too nervous, with 17% saying this was their top concern. Other common reasons for dreading interviews include fear of being stumped by the interviewer’s questions, being late, or being seen as under- or over-qualified.
Whatever your reasons for hating interviews, know that you are not alone. Interviews are stressful events—you’re putting yourself out there with no guarantees of getting anything in return!
Nevertheless, interviews are worth it. A successful interview could give you an immense advantage over other candidates. It makes you seem personable and gives you a chance to sell your unique strengths better than a resume ever could.
The best way to combat nerves and increase your odds of landing the job is to prepare. As one of the nation’s leading staffing companies, we conduct thousands of interviews every week. Here are our best tips for guaranteed success before, during, and after an interview!
1. Research EVERYTHING. Nowadays, researching a company is easier than ever. Their website is like a cheat sheet listing the mission, values, products, history, and more. Additionally, tools such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn provide you even further insight.
On Glassdoor, you can read reviews from previous employers, including details about the company’s interview process. You might find information on the kind of questions they ask, the length of the interview, and the competitiveness of the position. Glassdoor also provides information on salaries, benefits, and perks.
On LinkedIn, you can view more information on the company, including who works there and what their qualifications are. You might find that an old classmate or coworker works at the same company. Why not reach out and ask them for tips?
Additionally, you’ll probably be able to find more about your interviewer on LinkedIn. It’s okay to check out their profile and read the content they have shared. At the interview, you can then say something like, “I read the article you posted on so and so,” or “I saw on LinkedIn that we went to the same school.” Your research is a great way to demonstrate your interest in the company.
2. Clean up your social media. Just like you are researching the company ahead of the interview, the hiring manager is researching you. According to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates, and 54% have found something that made then reject a candidate. Yikes!
So yeah, those bad pictures from Spring Break in Cancun are more than just embarrassing—they might actually be hurting your prospects.
Before any interviews, go through your social media. Review your privacy settings, hiding or deleting anything that might cause concern.
3. Practice your timing. Finding an office that you have never visited can be confusing. Finding it while stressed is ever harder! To avoid being late, look up your route ahead of time and calculate how long it will take you to get there during interview time. Don’t forget to account for traffic! You get extra preparedness points if you actually drive to the office a few days before and find the building.
It’s also a good idea to ask about the parking situation when you schedule your interview.
If you’re interviewing during work hours and your current boss doesn’t know about it, ask for time off ahead of time instead of calling in sick at the last minute. You don’t want to jeopardize your current job before you land a new one.
4. Have all your documents. Print is not dead. While most people now view and send resumes online, it’s still expected that the interviewee (that’s you) will bring copies. Showing up without them can signal unpreparedness. Not to mention that scrolling through your phone to find a cover letter or writing sample is super unprofessional.
Bring about five copies of your resume. Some interviewers might ask for a specific number of copies ahead of time, but if they don’t specify then five copies is a good number. Additionally, bring any other relevant materials such as writing samples, portfolio pieces, case studies, former projects, or anything applicable to your position.
And don’t forget to print on resume paper.
Resume paper is thicker and research has shown that when we hold heavier items we perceive them as having more importance. Printing on resume paper will make your resume appear better quality than those printed on regular paper.
5. Dress to impress. According to the Undercover Recruiter, 65% of managers say clothes could be a deciding factor between two similar candidates. Appropriate clothing varies from one industry to another. A suit is expected if you’re interviewing for a finance position at a big corporation, but it might come across as pretentious if you’re interviewing for a small tech start up.
This is where all that research comes in handy. You can probably find employee pictures on the company’s website or Facebook profile. Check out what you’re wearing and then dress one step above. If you’re unsure, err on the conservative side—it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Business professional or business casual outfits are always the safest choices.
Try out your outfit ahead of time, making sure it is clean, ironed, and free of holes and stains.
6. Practice for common interview questions. There’s no way for you to know exactly what the interviewer will ask you. However, certain questions have a habit of turning up in every interview. Here are some common questions you will likely see.
- “So, tell me about yourself.” This may seem like small talk, but it’s really just another interview question. This is your time to sell yourself. For tips on crafting a memorable elevator pitch, check out our infographic.
- “Why do you want to leave your current job?” The most important thing to remember is NOT to bash your current employer. Interviewers might think you’ll do the same to them if they were to hire you. Instead, say something such as “I’m looking for new growth opportunities,” or “As much as I’ve learned in my current role, I feel like I’m ready for something new.”
- “What is your biggest weakness?” Do NOT say you are a perfectionist or a workaholic. These answers have been so overused that you’re guaranteed at least one other candidate said before you. Pick another trait that you’ve struggled with and offer an example on how you’re working to improve. This is also an opportunity to address any gaps in your resume or lack of industry experience. Explain why you’ve applied to the job despite these gaps and why you believe you are still a good candidate.
The best tip for crafting good answers to any interview question is to provide examples or stories from your personal experience. Examples will be better evidence of your skills and qualifications. And whatever you do, don’t lie.
Ready to rock this interview? Check out Part II of our Ultimate Interview Guide: 5 Tips to Remember on Interview Day.