To say that interviews are stressful is an understatement. In a short period of time, you need to prove that you have the right experience and expertise for the position. To make this process as painless as possible, keep these four tips in mind.
Do your homework.
Reading the job description is not adequate preparation for an interview. Research the company and the interviewer. Make sure that you are up to speed on any recent news coverage or industry happenings. The interviewer will be able to tell in about two minutes whether or not you know your stuff – and they should not be using this time to tell you what is already written on their website.
You should also practice some talking points. Have strong examples of project contributions or other responsibilities that you have held. There are also some standard questions that you can pretty much guarantee will come up. For example, some version of “Tell me about yourself,” should be a slam-dunk. Have an interesting and concise answer ready to go.
Remember it is a two-way street.
It would surprise you to hear just how many people are passive interviewees. Chances are that the interviewer will build in some time for you to ask any questions about the position or the company – a blank stare or shrug will not go over well.
Answering questions about yourself and your work experience is only half of the interview, you should have insightful questions that show you are invested in the position. And remember, this is not just an opportunity for you to sell yourself. You should also be using this time to determine whether or not this position would be a good career move, and if you think you could be happy at this company.
Anticipate what could go wrong.
Even if you feel completely prepared for this interview, the universe might have other plans. As the saying goes, “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” Maybe the power goes out and your alarm does not go off. Or your printer decides to stop working in the morning. Your bus could be late, or a lane on the highway is closed.
Any number of things could go wrong, and while it is impossible to prepare for everything, you can do your best. Have everything ready to go the night before – this includes your outfit laid out and extra copies of your resume printed. You should also plan to get to the interview at least half an hour early, just in case.
Pay attention to the details.
It is great to have excellent work experience and references. But the little things can also make a big difference. This includes taking the time to tailor your resume to the open position you are applying for. You should also make sure to send follow-up letters, thanking the individuals who interviewed you. In both of these scenarios, pay extra attention to things like spelling and grammar. The interview might have gone well, but the interviewer will definitely notice if you spell their name wrong. Saying you have “great attention to detail” is now meaningless.
One Last Word of Advice
It might sound impossible, but try not to stress out too much. Even if you do not get the job, the interview itself is good practice. It is also a good idea to reach out and ask for feedback, which can help you better prepare for future interviews. Beyond that? Get a good night’s sleep and do not overdo it with the caffeine in the morning.