Job interviews can feel a lot like a trip to the dentist—dreadful and marked by the sincere desire that your condition is a whole lot better once it’s over.
Relax! Going to a job interview should feel victorious not tortuous–if you got the interview, you’ve already impressed someone, right?
With that in mind, we have a few tips to help you nail your interview, and some advice just in case things don’t go exactly as planned.
First off, be mindful of others’ time. You know what they say about first impressions—you don’t get a second chance to make a good one. With this in mind, don’t be on time, be early.
There may be paperwork to fill out before hand, and if so this can eat into your precious interview time if you don’t budget in a few extra minutes for unexpected tasks (including that last minute trip to the bathroom!).
Next, be confident but not arrogant. What I mean by this is express confidence in your abilities without resorting to braggadocio. During the interview you may be asked a question you don’t know the answer to or are inexperienced in a particular area. Simply say that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to fill your knowledge gap in order to be the best employee possible.
Research shows that humans favor individuals who come off as warm versus cool or cold. Warmth is inferred when we smile, indicate our approval when we agree with something someone else says, and give genuine compliments. Exhibiting these behaviors will let the interviewers know that you feel positively toward them and will help break the ice. By all means don’t go overboard with the compliments or yes responses if you’re not feeling them! But if you are a natural people person be sure to let your friendly personality shine through.
Doing your homework on a potential employer is one of the best ways to impress him or her. Learn as much as possible about the company as well as the department you’ll be working in. Tell your interviewer that you support the company’s mission statement and agree with its vision. Of course, you’ll need to talk about these concepts a bit, so be sure to memorize the ideas that you are especially enthusiastic about and feel comfortable discussing.
You can further show your commitment to the company by printing out a page or two from its website and asking thoughtful questions about the material during your interview.
Ok, now comes the hard part. Many interviewers like to ask about what you perceive as your weaknesses after you’ve given a glowing report on all the reasons why you’re right for the job. Don’t let this bring the interview to a screeching halt.
Be prepared to describe your weaknesses honestly, directly and succinctly. Think of a few work-related moments you wish had gone differently and practice beforehand what you’ll say about them, focusing on what hindsight has taught you to avoid making the same mistakes again.
Nobody’s perfect and your interviewer is likely using this question to round out his or her picture of you as an employee, not to find a reason not to hire you. Employers really just want to see that you’re able to own your mistakes and are diligent about trying to improve in the future. They also want to know how you solve problems, handle difficult situations and deal with conflict.
With that being said, here are a few questions you may hear during an interview:
- What do you consider to be your greatness weakness?
- Tell us about a time you made a mistake at work and how you dealt with it
- How would you resolve a disagreement with a co-worker and/or your boss?
- Now that we’re looking at what could be considered the more trickier aspects of interviewing, let’s keep going.
Let’s face it, if you’re interviewing for a job it’s because you want it. So what should you do if you don’t get it?
Take a breath. Remind yourself that no matter how talented and qualified you are, no one gets every job they apply for and only one person will get the position you applied for. Think of rejection as just another part of the interview process. It’s not the end of the world but yes, it will sting a little.
After all, you wanted that job!
What are some of the likely reasons you weren’t chosen? Here are some of the more common reasons you may not have been selected:
- Because there were stacks of resumes and heaps of applicants
- Because there was a preferred applicant who the company had already decided on
- Because you were a good fit for the job but not the best fit
Don’t let one disappointment keep you from looking for and applying to your dream job. The more you try your hand at anything in life the more likely you are to succeed.
Finally, here are some extra tips to set yourself apart from the crowd on your next big interview:
- Bring along extra resumes and prepare a list of references
- Have questions prepared that show you’re serious about the job. My favorite one is, “What would be my biggest challenge in this position?”
- Re-read the job description and be sure to highlight the skills and experiences you have which align with the position requirements
- Dress for success: either business wear or the kind of outfit you expect your interviewers to be wearing
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