The job interview is the most crucial part of any job application. This is where the employer meets the new hire for the first time, and the old adage “first impressions last a life time” could never be more applicable. You can do many things to be sure that the first impression is a good one. These job interview preparation tips are invaluable when getting ready for your next meeting.
6 Job Interview Preparation Tips
Tip 1) Practice the interview at home, in front of a mirror.
The more confidence you have in the ability to sell yourself, the better chance you have to make a good first impression. Be prepared for the usual questions: “Why did you leave your last job? “What did you like about your last job?” What did you dislike about your last job?” and “What makes you think you would make a good choice for this company?” are all very popular questions for an interview.
Prepare these answers beforehand and practice them. Don’t use cliches like “I am a people person,” these are vague and tired. Instead, phrase the answer into one specific for the company hiring, such as “I have always enjoyed helping people find the answers to their questions, it gives me a sense of pride” or “I enjoy the challenges of working with people.”
Never speak negatively of your last employer. That will make your prospective employer see you in a negative light. Instead, try unspecific things such as, “There wasn’t much room for promotion” or “I really just want to expand my career.” Don’t talk negatively about your boss or your co-workers if you can avoid it.
Tip 2) Dress appropriately for the interview.
Again, your professional appearance will be the first thing your interviewer notices when they meet you. The same can be said for your unprofessional appearance.
For females, a nice business suit with a modest shell under the jacket is a professional look, as is a longer skirt with a dressy top and flat heeled shoes; your hair should be neat and tied back if possible.
For men, slacks, dress shirt and a tie or a nice suit is in order with special attention to facial hair. Trim or groom mustaches or beards, or shave smoothly the morning of your interview. Dress professionally but comfortably, for ladies this would not be the time to try those high heels that hurt your feet when you walk. For men, fidgeting in a scratchy shirt will not leave a good impression.
Tip 3) Be on time for the interview; in fact, be early.
Punctuality cannot be overstressed. Being late to the interview is faux pas that you cannot recover from regardless of how well the actual interview went. An employer is looking for a dependable person; being late casts a very bad first impression. After all, if you’re late to your interview, what are the chances you’ll also be late to your job, and important client meeting, or just about any other work function?
Tip 4) Relax, be comfortable, and project confidence.
Whiel this can be easier said than done, try deep breaths or some other form of relaxation exercises before getting started on the interview. This will give the relaxed, confident air that an employer is looking for from his new hires. This is especially true for sales, management, or executive positions.
Approach the desk or chair with confidence, offer to shake hands, and do not sit until the interviewer invites you to. Look him squarely in the eye with a self assured smile.
It helps to remember that the interviewer is just another person. Before getting started, find something in his office to comment positively on; “I like that painting” or “That is a lot of trophies” is a way get the interviewer’s guard down enough to level the playing field a little, and might even be an invitation to a quick chat about the subject. The tone of the interview might be more relaxed if this tip succeeds.
Tip 5) Research the company you’re interviewing at and the position you’re interviewing for.
Know the salary being offered before you go in to the interview. Quote the salary mentioned in the application, or a bit under it, if asked what your salary requirements are. Also, understand the work hours being offered before going to the interview so you are not blindsided by requests for overnight or weekend shifts.
Be familiar with the company, it’s background, and the products and/or services they offer, especially the division or section of the company which you’re applying to work at. Know who their competitors are, and what your prospective company’s competitive strengths are.
Tip 6) Be ready to make a graceful exit.
Thank the interviewer again at the end, stand when he or she does, and offer again to shake hands firmly and confidently. Here is something that you absolutely must do after almost any job in order to receive an offer; follow up with a thank you letter. Thanking him for the interview a few days later will also keep you in the interviewer’s mind when they are reviewing applicants.
The days following an important interview can be a tortured time of self doubt and stress. After the interview is complete, try to put it out of your mind; you cannot undo it or change any part of it once it is over. If the employer contacts you and says you were not hired, thank them and request that your application be kept on file for future openings.
Following these simple interview preparation tips will put you ahead of may candidates, although competition today is fiercer than ever, with some determination and more than a little preparation, you will land that job you’re after.
Steve writes on many topics, and has been published in many locations, both online and in national print media.