Tips for a Successful Interview
The impression you make on the interviewer often can outweigh your actual credentials. Your poise, attitude, basic social skills, and ability to communicate are evaluated along with your experience and education.
You and the interviewer must engage in a conversation – a mutual exchange of information and ideas. Only through such a dialogue can you both determine if you, the organization, and the job are well matched. Preparation is the key.
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Be on time.
This often means 10-15 minutes early. Interviewers often are ready before the appointment.
Know the interviewer’s name, its spelling, and pronunciation.
Use it during the interview. If you don’t know the name, call beforehand and ask the secretary. Also, note the secretary’s name in case you have to call back. Secretaries can influence the hiring decision!
Have some questions of your own prepared in advance.
There is nothing wrong with having a short list of questions and thoughts- it shows you have done your research and want to know more about the organization and the position.
Bring several copies of your resume.
Also, bring a copy of your transcript. Carry your papers in an organized manner.
Have a reliable pen and a small note pad with you.
But do not take notes during the interview. However, immediately afterward, write down as much as you can remember, including your impression of how well you did.
Greet the interviewer with a handshake and a smile.
Remember to maintain eye contact (which does not mean a stare down).
Expect to spend some time developing rapport.
Don’t jump right in and get down to business. Follow the interviewer’s lead.
Don’t be embarrassed if you are nervous.
As you gain experience you’ll become more at ease with the interviewing process.
On your attributes, your transferable skills, and your willingness to learn; don’t apologize for a lack of experience; describe your strengths in terms of what you can do for the organization.
Tell the truth.
Lies and exaggeration will come back to haunt you.
Listen carefully to the interviewer.
Be sure you understand the question; if not, ask for clarification, or restate it in your own words. Answer completely and concisely. Stick to the subject at hand.
Never slight a teacher, friend, employer, or your university.
Loyalty ranks high on the employer’s list.
Watch your grammar.
Employers are interested in candidates who can express themselves properly. Even if you have to go slowly and correct yourself, accuracy is preferred over ungrammatical fluency.
Be prepared for personal questions.
Some interviewers may not know what they can and cannot ask legally. Anticipate how you will handle such questions without losing your composure.
Wait for the interviewer to mention salary and benefits.
To research pay scales, refer to salary surveys and information on the Career Services website on in the career library.
Don’t expect a job offer at the first interview.
Often you will be invited to a second or even third interview before an offer is made several weeks later.
Close on a positive, enthusiastic note.
Ask what the next step will be. Thank the interviewer for his/her time and express your interest in the job. Leave quickly and courteously with a handshake and a smile.
No interview is complete until you follow up with a thank-you note.
Express your appreciation for the interview and, if true, reaffirm your interest. This last step can make a difference. Don’t forget it.
21 Job Interview Tips for a Winning Performance
Follow our preparation strategies and interview techniques to boost your chances of landing the job.
Interviews are more than just a step in your career journey; they’re exciting opportunities to showcase your unique talents and find your perfect job fit. And with the right strategies, you can turn these opportunities into incredible career victories. That’s where our helpful interview tips can really give you an edge.
Think of your upcoming interview as a chance to show how your past experiences and skills are just what your future employer needs. It’s not just about being prepared for the questions you might face; it’s about weaving your experiences into a narrative that engages your interviewer.
Remember, strong interview skills are indispensable. They not only increase your chances of landing the job but also lay the groundwork for future career growth.
In this article, we list 21 essential interview tips that are especially useful now that you’ve got one lined up. Our interview tips and tricks cover how to prepare yourself mentally and professionally before the interview, how to make a real connection during the conversation, and the smart moves to make with your follow-up.
Before the Interview: Tips for Successful Preparation
If you want to know how to interview well, it all starts with research and proper planning. Follow our interview preparation tips below to set yourself up for a successful day
1. Research the Company
One of the most helpful tips for interviews is to thoroughly research the company. It involves digging into their history, mission, values, culture, and recent achievements. Explore their website, read recent press releases, and understand their products, services, and position in the industry. This research shows your genuine interest in the company.
Additionally, it enables you to ask informed questions, demonstrating your thorough preparation. Knowledge of the company can also help you feel more confident and less anxious during the interview and may even help you anticipate the questions you could face.
2. Review the Job Description
Analyzing the job description is critical to understanding what the employer is looking for in a candidate. Identify the required skills and qualifications and reflect on how your background and experiences align with these requirements. Think about specific examples from your past work or projects that demonstrate these skills. Understanding the job description also helps you anticipate potential interview questions and prepare thoughtful, relevant answers.
3. Practice Answering Interview Questions
Prepare your answers for common interview questions such as:
- Tell me about yourself and why you are interested in this role.
- Why should we hire you?
- What do you know about our company?
You might also have to answer some tough interview questions, such as:
- What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- Tell me about a time when you failed?
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
Practicing helps you articulate your thoughts clearly and confidently. However, avoid memorizing answers, as it can make you sound robotic.
Instead, focus on key points you want to convey and practice speaking about them in a conversational manner. This preparation can reduce anxiety and improve your ability to think on your feet.
4. Plan Your Day
Whether your interview is in-person or virtual, planning your journey is essential. For in-person interviews, know the location and how you’ll get there. Consider doing a trial run to estimate travel time and find parking options, if necessary.
For video interviews, ensure your technology works correctly. Test your internet connection, camera, and microphone beforehand, and familiarize yourself with the video conferencing software. A calm and organized start to your interview day can set a positive tone, helping you remain focused and relaxed.
5. Prepare Thoughtful Questions to Ask
This is some of the best job interview advice that can help you soar above other candidates. Have a set of questions ready to ask the interviewer to show your interest in the role and the company. Your questions should demonstrate that you’ve researched and are thinking critically about the opportunity.
Ask about specific aspects of the job, team dynamics, company culture, or future projects. Here are some you might consider asking your interviewer:
- Can you describe the day-to-day responsibilities of this role?
- What are the company’s values, and how do they influence decision-making and operations?
- How would you describe the work environment here?
- Are there opportunities for professional development or further education?
- How does the company support work-life balance?
6. Review Your Resume
Familiarize yourself with every detail on your resume – this is one of our interview tips to use right before you show up for your interview. You should be prepared to discuss any aspect of your resume and explain how your experiences make you a good fit for the position.
Be ready to provide more details about your listed experiences, such as the outcome of projects you worked on or the impact of skills you developed. Also, be prepared to address any potential red flags positively and honestly, such as employment gaps or frequent job changes. Your resume is the blueprint of your professional life; know it inside out.
7. Check Your Online Presence
This is one of the most valuable tips for a job interview and one that most people overlook. In today’s digital age, employers often review candidates’ online profiles. Ensure your social media accounts reflect a professional image. This might involve removing or making private any potentially controversial content on social platforms and ensuring your online presence supports your job application.
Your online profiles should accurately represent your professional skills, experiences, and interests. They can also be used to showcase your professional accomplishments and networks. An appropriate online presence can reinforce your suitability for the role and show that you’re conscious of how you present yourself.
8. Gather Necessary Materials
Prepare a folder with all the required materials for the interview. This includes multiple copies of your resume and samples of your work (if relevant). For virtual interviews, have these documents ready on your computer for easy sharing. Also, bring a notepad and pen for notetaking.
Having these materials organized and at hand demonstrates your preparedness and attention to detail. It also ensures you are ready to provide any information the interviewer might request, which can keep the interview process smooth and efficient.
9. Relax and Reflect
This is one of the best interview tips to help you approach your big day with a calm and positive mindset. Engage in activities that reduce stress and enhance focus, such as exercise, meditation, or an enjoyable hobby leading up to your interview.
Reflect on your career goals and how the potential job aligns with them. Getting a good night’s sleep before the interview is also crucial.
Remember, confidence can be a game-changer in interviews. A relaxed, composed demeanor helps you think more clearly and communicate more effectively, making a positive impression on the interviewer.
During the Interview: Tips for Making a Great Impression
Want to find out how to do well in an interview and increase your chances of landing the job? Below we list valuable interviewing tips that will help you make an excellent first impression.
10. Dress Appropriately
This is one of our top interview tips for your big day, because first impressions really do count. Dressing for an interview is about striking the right balance between professionalism and fitting in with the company’s culture. Research the company beforehand to give you insights into their dress code. If unsure, reach out to the recruiter or HR department and ask how the employees typically dress.
Ensure your clothes fit well and you’re comfortably groomed, with minimal accessories. Different industries have varying norms; for instance, creative roles may allow more expressive attire. The key is to wear something that makes you feel confident and comfortable, reflecting a professional image that matches the company’s ethos.
11. Be Punctual
Arriving on time, or ideally a few minutes early, sets a positive tone for the interview. It reflects your time management skills and respect for the interviewer’s schedule. Log in early to ensure a stable connection if it’s a virtual interview.
Punctuality also gives you a moment to compose yourself and review your notes. Remember, if you turn up late, all the other interview tips fly out of the window.
12. Display Confidence
Confidence is key in an interview. Maintain eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and sit up straight. Speak clearly and avoid filler words. Confidence shouldn’t be confused with arrogance; it’s about believing in your abilities and conveying that to the interviewer, not overselling yourself or bragging.
If you feel nervous, practice deep breathing techniques to calm yourself. Remember, it’s normal to feel a bit nervous, and acknowledging this can help you manage your anxiety.
13. Listen Carefully
Active listening is one of the most crucial interview tips. Pay attention to the interviewer’s words and body language. Don’t interrupt; wait for them to finish before responding. Listening well ensures you understand the question and can provide a relevant answer.
If you’re unsure about a question, asking for clarification is okay. This shows that you’re engaged and want to give a thoughtful response.
14. Communicate Clearly
Articulate your thoughts in a structured and concise manner. Avoid overly complex language or jargon that might not be familiar to the interviewer.
Using the STAR method to structure responses is helpful, especially for behavioral questions. This is one of the best interview techniques to help you deliver clear, concise answers with real-life examples.
15. Use Appropriate Body Language
Your body language speaks volumes. Sit upright but relaxed, maintain good eye contact, and use hand gestures naturally to emphasize points. Avoid negative body language like crossing your arms, fidgeting, or looking away from the interviewer. Positive body language conveys confidence and interest in the conversation.
16. Answer Questions Thoughtfully
Focus on answering the question that’s been asked, not the one you wish had been asked. Stay on topic and resist the urge to go off on tangents. If you find yourself straying, pause and redirect back to the question. Be direct and focused to show you can communicate efficiently and stay on task.
When answering competency-based or behavioral interview questions, remember to support your claims with examples. When discussing skills or achievements, provide specific instances where you demonstrated these qualities. This makes your responses more credible and memorable.
And always tell the truth when answering. Dishonesty will come back to haunt you and won’t help you in the long run.
17. Maintain Professionalism
Throughout the interview, stay positive and maintain a professional demeanor. This includes being respectful in your speech, avoiding slang or overly casual language, and not speaking negatively about previous employers or colleagues. All the interview tips in the world won’t save you if you come off as unpleasant to work with.
Frame your experiences positively, focusing on what you learned or how you grew from them. For example, if asked about a difficult work situation, focus on the resolution and your role rather than the conflict itself. Remember, your conduct during the interview is seen as a reflection of how you would behave as an employee.
18. Show Enthusiasm
Employers are not just looking for candidates with the right skills and experience. They also want someone who is genuinely excited and motivated to contribute to the company’s success.
Your enthusiasm should be evident in the way you discuss your past experiences and future aspirations. Highlight how your professional journey has prepared you for the opportunity and how the role aligns with your career goals. This can often be the differentiating factor that sets you apart from other candidates.
19. Close On a Positive Note
This may be one of our last interview tips for the day itself, but it’s one of the most important. The way you conclude an interview is as crucial as your initial impression. It’s your last chance to reinforce your interest in the position and leave a lasting positive impact.
Start by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to interview. Reiterate your interest in the role and express enthusiasm for the next steps in the hiring process.
Additionally, consider ending with a thoughtful comment or question that reflects something significant you discussed during the interview. This leaves the interviewer with the impression that you were fully engaged and are already thinking about contributing to the company.
After the Interview: Tips to Make You Memorable
You made it through your interview, congratulations! Although it’s over, you still have work to do. Follow our last few job interview tips below to increase your chances of moving forward.
20. Send a Thank-You Note
Following up with a thank-you email is a crucial step in the interview process and should be sent within 24 hours. In your email, express your gratitude for the opportunity and the interviewer’s time. Reinforce your interest in the position and briefly reiterate why you are a good fit.
Keep it concise and professional and personalize it by mentioning a specific part of the interview that you found particularly interesting or enlightening. If your interviewer previously requested any additional information or documents from you, be sure to include these.
21. Follow-Up if Necessary
Suppose you haven’t heard back within the timeframe initially indicated by the interviewer. In that case, it’s appropriate to send a follow-up email. This email should be polite and professional, expressing your continued interest in the position and inquiring about the status of your application. Avoid sounding impatient or demanding; keep the tone positive and courteous.&
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