Your job hunting may finally be at an end; your dream job (or heck, just a job in this economy!) has contacted you and wants to meet for an interview. How do you prepare?
Today I’d like to share some tips from my last interview. These tips have helped me in interviews from banking to academia, and are applicable in most job fields.
Make yourself feel comfortable
Do not put your feet up on the interviewer’s desk or wear pajama bottoms, of course. But you should pick an outfit that makes you feel comfortable as you are sitting in a room with a stranger or two (or three!) being grilled about your competence for the job.
I have a go-to shirt that I love to wear to interviews, but my professional work pants have gotten a bit too snug around the waist (ugh!). I shopped the clearance rack at Express, and for $25 I picked up a new pair of pants that made me feel like a million dollars during my interview, and that I can easily wear to work at my new job.
I also needed to audition for the dance instructor job that I hold. That interview and audition felt odd to me, because I had to go wearing clothing I could move in. Even the idea of wearing yoga pants to an interview made me feel awkward! So I assembled an outfit with my most comfortable and still nice yoga pants, a matching top, and my favorite stud earrings. Because I color coordinated my outfit, I still felt comfortable and as professional as one could feel wearing yoga pants.
Get to know the job
Consider the job description and what you know of the field you are applying to. How are you going to approach this job? How are you going to convey to the interviewer(s) that you are competent and ready to take on the work load?
When I interviewed for my position at the bank, I had never worked in banking. I knew generally that a teller counted money and talked to customers, so I emphasized my skills in working with the public and talked about how I was comfortable handling money because I had worked at a restaurant. I made my experience fit their needs.
If you have some experience in the field you are applying to, you still have to do some convincing. For example, if you have worked part-time in this field, your interviewer will want to know how you will handle transitioning to a full-time position. In these cases, you need to be able to sell yourself as a hard working, dedicated employee.
If you are experienced in the field you are applying to, that’s great! You can probably already imagine the questions the interviewer(s) will ask you about your ability to perform the duties they have asked. But hold on, because the next section is for you…
Make yourself fit in
Your potential employer is hiring a co-worker. This means that you must show that you work well with others, and that you fit in with the environment of the company.
I think the easiest way to do this is to be pleasant during the interview. Smiling goes a long way, and so does eye contact. Have a firm handshake, but don’t hurt anyone.
And a few more tips…
Do your homework! Research the job, company, and maybe even your interviewers (creeper status? Maybe).
Put yourself in their shoes! Imagine what questions your interviewers will ask, and think of ways you might answer those questions.
Follow up! A hand-written note to thank your interviewers for their time is a nice way to keep you in their minds as they decide who to hire.
What tips would you share for an interview? How do you prepare?