Stop right there! You have before your eyes the only guide you need for hitting a slam dunk on an interview. I have interviewed many people, and I have been interviewed a few times myself. I have learned quite a few things. Below is a comprehensive list of 17 tips to have a successful interview. Bonus: This guide is accompanied with a three-part video series. See below!
One Week Before the Interview
1. Take time to research the organization and the position. To find company-specific information visit your local library, run a search on the internet, or talk to current or former employees about their experiences and impressions of the company. Look at company reviews on Indeed. Study the company’s products and services, industry, target market, annual sales, geographic location(s), structure, history, officers, and any other key information. Are there any new trends in the industry? What is the latest headline news about the company? Learn as much as you can.
2. Identify the organization’s major competitors and do some basic research on how they differ (either positively or negatively) from the company at which you are interviewing. Why is this organization the best to work for? Why are they dominating the industry?
3. Prepare specific examples of how your skills and experience make you a strong fit for the organization’s needs. List out how you are going to solve the problem they seek resolution for in hiring for your position. Practice answering direct questions about your experience, education, and skills and how they relate to the position. Being prepared to explain how your experience meets the needs of the organization is one of the most important interviewing skills you will need.
4. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to talk about your weaknesses, but find a way to frame them positively. Here is a good one: “My biggest weakness is that I am a perfectionist. It may take me a little extra time to get a project done to my satisfaction, but you can be guaranteed that the work will pass even the most stringent review, be 100% accurate, and that no detail will be overlooked.” As mentioned before this is a popular question asked in many interviews.
5. Prepare several intelligent questions about the company and position that will demonstrate your knowledge of the company and your sincere interest in the position. You are interviewing them as well. You want to demonstrate that it will be as great for you to choose them as it is for them to choose you.
6. Try on your suit and make sure that it is well-fitting and in good repair. If necessary, make-arrangements to have it altered or find an alternate outfit.
The Day before the Interview
7. Contact the company (most likely the recruiter) to confirm the date and time of your interview. Also, confirm the name and title of the individual(s) you will be meeting. Always ask for instructions you need to follow upon entering the building.
8. Get directions to the interview site. Be sure to double check the directions using a map (or now-a-days an App). This will ensure that you know the way and have an approximate travel time. Also, don’t forget to allow for extra time for traffic or accidents. Check for traffic alerts before you leave.
9. Lay out your entire interview outfit. Check it for any spots, wrinkles, or snags. Make sure it is ironed and ready to go. Have your shoes and accessories ready as well (remember not too many accessories).
10. Print off a few extra copies of your resume and cover letter. I always recommend people to take three copies. Even if the interviewer has a copy of their own, it’s always a good idea to have a backup copy. This is also helpful if you are interviewing with multiple individuals at the same time (a panel interview) since the head interviewer may be the only person with a copy of your resume. Sometimes a person will be late to the interview on purpose and ask you for a copy of your resume; make sure you deliver.
The BIG day!
11. Your brain needs fuel to run at peak performance, and if there is ever a day you need 110% from your brain, it’s the day of a life-changing interview. So, don’t skimp on meals. Always eat breakfast if your interview is in the morning. If it is in the afternoon, eat an early lunch.
12. Get dressed early so you do not feel rushed to dash out the door. Pay attention to the details (brush off any lint, comb your hair, brush your teeth, use deodorant, etc.). Remember that a first impression will reveal a lot about you and your character.
13. Don’t forget to take three copies of your resume, your cover letter, and your portfolio if you have one. I recommend investing in a nice binder/cover to carry.
14. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your interview. Arriving 15-30 minutes early is a reasonable time frame. Arriving late… well you know what that will do!
15. Smile and shake everyone’s hand when you are meeting for the first time – you should also smile and shake hands when the interview concludes. Make sure you are friendly to the receptionist. I have seen people not get hired who were the perfect fit, but they were rude to the receptionist. The receptionist is ALWAYS the gatekeeper.
16. Relax! If you have done your homework you are well-prepared for the interview. Take a deep breath and spend a moment collecting your thoughts if you need to when being asked a question. Do not hesitate to ask for clarification for a question they ask. Be yourself and don’t ramble. Just answer the questions.
After the Interview
17. Write a thank you note to all parties involved and follow-up 7-10 business days afterwards.
As always you want to shine and do your best. Trust me, you will by following these tips. Your dream job is just an interview away. Go get’em tiger! I could write on this topic for days, but I think these tips are a great start.
Did I leave a step out? What are some tips that have helped you when preparing for an interview?
Check out the 3-Part Working Woman Video Series:
Keep winning and creating harmony in your life.
Marla J. Albertie
Your Life Harmonizing Strategist