Interviewing can be a hard thing to master, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get better at it over time.
Check out my top ten interview tips based on my own experiences interviewing others for research and career/educational opportunities, being interviewed for jobs and internships, interning with CBS Human Resources recruiters, interviewing individuals with CBS Newspath, and working at Princeton Office of Career Services.
You can trust this advice because as the title says I’ve been around a whole lotta darn interviewing.
Note: These tips are in no particular order.
Further Note: These are not the only interviewing tips you might need. Just 10 that I’d like to highlight.
1. Be early, but never too early.
You want to make sure you are on time for an interview but when you arrive too much before your scheduled time, you become an inconvenience. People have to tend to you (get you water, show you where to sit, worry about you being there) during a time they hadn’t planned to. Never arrive more than 15-20 minutes before an interview if you can help it. You might be labeled as inconsiderate if you do.
2. Send a thank-you note.
Thank you notes go a long way. They show the interviewer that you have an interest in the position. They also are just a nice gesture. People like feeling appreciated. When I started interviewing others, I was surprised when I received no thank-you emails. It made me wonder if the individual really cared about the opportunity. Don’t ever let the interviewer think you aren’t interested (unless you really aren’t.) Make sure to get a business card after your interview is over. The thank-you note will be the last impression you can probably make on the interviewer. It also may be your only chance to do so. Once when interviewing at MTV, I lost my interviewer’s business card and wasn’t able to get it from her secretary due to confidentiality terms. I had to do some major scouring later on because I failed to be organized.
3. Let your personality shine.
I know this may be a hard thing to do, but don’t go into an interviewing with getting the job being the only thing on your mind. I’d suggest having the mindset of making yourself likeable. At the end of the day recruiters are looking for the best fit. If they called you into an interview, you’ve probably already been screened and they see you as atleast potentially capable. Interviewers take notice of your personality and who you are as a person. Be yourself.
4. Dress and groom appropriately.
People will talk about you if you walk into an interview for a corporate job in a mini-skirt. Know the culture of the place that you are interviewing for and try to dress appropriately. Men, don’t engulf yourself in cologne. Not everyone’s noses can take strong smells. Bad breath is a no-no. Chipped nails could become a point of conversation. Just saying. I’ve heard and seen the conversations that can ensue when people come into an interview looking cray-cray.
5. Do your research.
Imagine you’re on a second date and your date forgets your name… How would you feel? Confused? Angry? Upset? Think of an interview as a second date ( the first one being the organization reading your application). Know some things about the company. You don’t want to go into a interview for tech consulting and talk about non-profit granting. You’ll look really unprepared in the interviewer’s eyes and potentially be labeled as a joke. Don’t be a joke. Be a winner. Know some facts and current news about the industry/position you’re applying for. Impress the interviewer. It won’t hurt ya.
6. Ask the right questions.
It’s an interviewer’s job to answer specific questions about the company or position, not give you an overview of the company. Make your questions worthwhile. And please, I repeat, please ask questions. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when I ask “so do you have any questions” and the person replies “no.” If you did your research (as outlined in step #5, you’ll probably have some type of question.) Good questions are:
1. How would the employees describe the culture of the organization?
2. What would be the ideal candidate for this position?
You can even be a bit forward and ask:
3. What are some of your concerns about whether I would be a good fit for this position?
Though that question seems pretty odd to ask, it’s actually a good tactic for identifying what might make you not get the opportunity and then making your case for why you should. It might also make you aware of something about the organization that you don’t like such as “everyone here works by themselves”… Maybe you like working at organizations that value teamwork, so this place might not actually be a fit for you.
7. Don’t lie.
If a interviewer asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to, don’t lie. This is especially important if it involves fact-based things or specific skills set. If you don’t know how to code, don’t tell an interviewer you do. It could come back to bite you in the ass.
8. Don’t Lie, but you can be IMAGINATIVE.
We all freeze up sometimes. I once asked a prospective student I was interviewing for an admissions interview the question:
If you could go back in time and ask anyone anything, who would you pick and what would you ask them?
I must have scared the life out of this girl because she looked terrified. I wasn’t expecting for her to take the question too seriously. I basically wanted to get a better sense for her imagination and thought-process. She eventually answered that she’d want to ask Velma from Scooby Doo about her mystery solving skills. To me, GREAT ANSWER! However, she probably thought it was a weird question.
Sometimes interviewers will ask you things to throw you off. They are probably testing your problem solving abilities, response to pressure, and communication skills.
Instead of thinking about being right, think about being creative and coming up with an answer!
9. Don’t Talk Too Much.
Just like you, interviewers get bored. Just like you interviewers, zone out. The person you’re interviewing is probably not your friend and doesn’t care about the intimate details of the questions you asked. Keep answers to the point. Provide substance when needed. You want interviewers to remember what you said and not have to sort through their memory’s clutter to remember the sound bites that might make or break their decision to hire you or bring you back for a second interview.
10. READ ABOUT INTERVIEWING. I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING.
I’m an avid reader and think everyone can always benefit from reading more. There are plenty of other articles out there that have great advice. Some good ones I recently found were Huff Post’s The Top 10 Interview Tips for College Graduates and ABC News’s The Top 5 Interview Tips No One Mentions.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GO-TO INTERVIEW TIP? COMMENT BELOW.
©Rana Campbell 2014.
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