They say, "Don't judge a book by its cover," but, let's be real. You're being judged from head to toe in an interview. How you walk, talk, shake hands, and dress will all be up for grabs when you walk into your next interview.
And there's nothing wrong with that. You're judging the company, too. You're taking a look around the office space and feeling out your interviewer(s) to see if you would enjoy working for them.
How you present yourself will really matter on this important day. And this is something you can totally master. All it takes is a little bit of prep work and a whole lot of belief in yourself.
Remember, you've already stood out from the crowd; they've called you in to learn more! Now, it's time to run with it and nail that interview.
Be able articulate, with specificity, how you can meet the needs of the employer. Review the job description with a fine-toothed comb. Jot down notes of your prior work experience and how they directly correlate to the bullet points on the job description.
For solid presentation skills, we like the tips on this website. After all, you will be putting on a bit of a formal presentation, just on a smaller scale.
Beyond the role itself, make sure you've thoroughly researched the organization, too. What is their mission? How long have they been around? How do they try to stand out in their business sector?
A great way to pick up on the company's "vibe" is to search for buzzwords on their website. See what they always point back to, either in their mission statement, on their About Us page, and even on their homepage.
Come Armed for Glory
We'll get to your attire in a moment, but let's talk about all the other odds and ends you should bring with you on the big day. Select a neat padfolio and stock it up with copies of your resume, a copy of the job description, your notes regarding how you can contribute to the organization, and your questions.
Of which, do come armed with questions, and have them carefully written out before the day of the interview. You can be sure they'll ask you, "Do you have any questions for us?" and they're expecting you to fire off two or three solid questions. Walk a fine line here. You can't say, "No, I'm good," and you can't barrage them a slew of questions, either. Just pick two or three solid questions.
If you've been given the names of the hiring team, research each of them, too. See what their role is in the company and if any of them interest you more than the others. Jot down their names in a prominent place in your notes and be sure to use their name when you greet them.
Practice Surefire Questions
Once you're armed with what you need, do a couple test runs through some common questions. You can't anticipate every question you'll be asked on the day, but you can run through a couple common questions.
If nothing else, you'll have some talking points that will be relatable on some level. Here are some common questions you can practice with:
- Tell me about yourself. (Be prepared to give a very brief overview of your resume, accomplishments, and passions. Keep this to no more than four or five sentences.)
- Why are you interested in this position?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Tell us about a time you used your skills that relate to this position.
Practice Getting There
If this isn't a virtual interview, then do a test run on how you're going to get there. You don't necessarily have to get in the car and do a test run, unless you and your special someone are in the mood for an evening drive.
But, take a look at the directions on Google Maps or Waze and see if there are any problem spots that might interfere with your drive.
Leave yourself plenty of time. It's better to get there early and sit in your car for 10-15 minutes, reviewing your materials.
Also, you don't know if you'll have to park somewhere specific, obtain a parking pass, pay for parking, or walk four minutes to get to the main lobby. Be a little excessive when planning your drive time.
Fake It 'Til You Make It
It's almost impossible not to have a little bit of adrenaline pumping through your system, especially in that inevitable wait in the main lobby. But, don't let your nerves get the best of you. You have to remain calm, even if you're only faking it.
Stay focused on how you can fulfill the role, keep your notes handy so you can ask appropriate questions, and remain personable. Sometimes, when we're nervous, we lose a bit of our personality.
Don't let the nerves take away even an ounce of your shine. Remember, this is just a conversation. Let's say that one more time. This is just a conversation.
Hopefully, you'll gel and walk out of there feeling confident. Or, maybe this isn't "the one" and there's a better job down the line for you. Every interview is meaningful because, if nothing else, it's good practice.
Remember Your Nonverbal Communication
Although it's easier said than done, there are more reasons to keep your cool and win the battle of the nerves. The interviewer is likely going to be examining your nonverbal communication skills, too.
They'll be wondering if you appear confident, if you're making eye contact, and if your handshake affirms warmth and confidence. Sit straight and stand tall. Remind yourself how well-prepared you are and that "you got this."
Miscellaneous Dos and Don'ts
To wrap things up, here are a few miscellaneous dos and don'ts. Let's start with the dos:
- Ask for clarification if you don't understand the question.
- Answer the question as best you can and then put it out of your mind.
- Send a thank you e-mail as soon as you return home.
And here are some don'ts:
- Don't talk incessantly, rambling on. These people have places to go and people to meet. Be succinct, direct, and maintain eye contact.
- Don't discuss salary and benefits until the company makes an offer.
- Don't appear desperate for the job. Make them want you. You're a hot commodity!
Present Yourself for the Win
Remember that. You're a hot commodity. You're well-educated, personable, and a go-getter. That will be obvious once they see how much prep work you've put into the interview. And, remember, even if you don't land this one, it's great practice to take you to the next one.
For more on how to present yourself, feel free to read these important facts about dressing for the position you want. Then, go out there and get it!