It's a common misperception that job interviews are just about getting that job. In fact, they serve a dual purpose. They can also tell you if you really want the job if it's offered to you. But none of this happens effortlessly. Acing a job interview requires some planning and thought well in advance.
1. Do Your Homework
Forewarned is forearmed, so begin by learning everything you possibly can about the company you're applying to. Start with the job description. Do you honestly sound like the type of employee they're looking for? Compare sought-after skills, education and experience to your own. Move on if you're not quite a good fit.
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Check out the company's website while you're at it, as well as its LinkedIn, Glassdoor and social media pages. Find out what they're all about, and make sure the hiring manager knows that you know.
Tuck your cellphone and other personal items away, and make sure your phone's ringer is off.
2. Dress for Success
Dressing properly might seem like a no-brainer, but it can be easily overlooked in a pandemic day and age when video interviews are common. Yes, you're seated in your living or dining room, but you don't want to look like it. Dress just as you would if you were visiting the company. Your attire is the first impression you're making on the recruiter.
And it's not just about what you're wearing. The idea is to appear prepared. Make sure you have a notebook and pen within easy reach so you can take notes, as well as copies of your resume, recommendations, and anything else that supports your position that you're the best person for this job.
3. Practice Your Answers
Practice makes perfect, and nowhere is this quite as true as with the interview process. Do some research so you have an idea of the types of interview questions you'll be asked. Some are staples and you'll almost certainly encounter them. Take time pre-interview to come up with the best possible answers. Do a mock interview with friends – or practice in a mirror. Have them throw random questions at you so you can practice thinking on your feet if you're faced with one that you haven't anticipated.
Consider also: Interview Questions You Should Expect
It can be a good idea to keep a story in mind that you can roll out when you're inevitably asked about your greatest weakness or biggest failure, something that demonstrates how you've handled such a situation in the past.
4. Ask the Right Questions
Your interview is also an opportunity to determine whether you think the job is a good fit for you. Make a list of questions in advance so you have them at the ready if an opportunity presents itself, but don't force them into the conversation.
Consider queries about the company's goals, and feel free to ask why the position you're interviewing for is open. If the individual quit, try to find out why. And, of course, you'll want to ask about the job's responsibilities and the company's expectations. Try to ferret out information that might not have appeared in the job listing.
5. First (and Final) Touches
Arrive early by at least 10 or 15 minutes if your interview is in person. You might want to do a trial run first so you're sure you know how to get there and how long the trip will take.
Tuck your cellphone and other personal items away, and make sure your phone's ringer is off. You don't want it to suddenly start ding-ding-dinging away mid-interview.
Above all, maintain eye contact, particularly if a certain question feels a little uncomfortable. You can practice this ahead of time as well. School yourself not to flinch or look down. Body language counts, too, so sit up straight, but try not to appear rigid. And don't forget to send that thank you note after the interview is over.
Consider also: 4 Reasons to Send an Email Thank You After an Interview