You may have heard this before but it holds true: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. First is fundamental when job hunting: The first email you send. The first phone conversation. The first time an employer reads your resume. The first interview. Preparation is vital if you intend to nail the interview. The days and hours before the interview – and what you do with them – can significantly affect how you fare in the interview itself.
Here are ten tips to properly prepare for a job interview:
1. Dress for Success
Make sure you know what attire is expected of the type of profession that you are interviewing for. If you want a corporate job and you show up in jeans it would not be very impressive. Or if you are applying for a secretarial position, something overly casual would most likely land your resume in the trash. It’s a good idea to have laundered and ironed your best interview outfits. You never know when you will get a call to run over to meet someone. Have several choices, just in case you spill coffee on the one you plan to wear.
2. Perfect the Resume
I have never read a friend’s draft of a resume and not found a typo. Make sure that you look it over and have a friend help you proofread it. You should not only name jobs and dates, but be results oriented when writing a resume. If you are applying for different types of jobs you will most likely need a resume edit for each of those different career choices.
3. Practice Interviewing
Find a friend or relative to help you practice interviewing. Start with the simple questions: “Tell me about your last job. What did you like and what did you dislike about it? What is your overall experience in this area? How did it go with your last boss?” Make sure your answers give examples of projects you have worked on, successes you have had, disasters you averted, etc. Never make a past employer or co-worker look bad. This is a great article about practicing for an interview:
4. Be Prepared for a Phone or Skype Interview
You should have a good working headset ready for any phone interview. A landline may give you the best connection. Make sure you have a quiet space. Have paper and pen ready and have your resume ready to refer to. For video interviews take a look at the space where you have your camera set up. Clean up the area – make sure you don’t have a pile of papers behind you or something else unprofessional. Dress exactly as you would if you were in person. You should test your phone and your Skype connection with a friend before the interview. If you can, get a screenshot of what you look like on Skype. Move the camera around until you like what you see.
5. Know the Company
Research the company that will be interviewing you. Look at their website and any recent media about them. Get to know their goals and plans, their mission statement and what they deem important. Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
6. Bring a Folder to the Interview
You should bring an extra copy of the resume and cover letter that you sent them. Print them on resume paper (that is why it’s called resume paper, you know). Also, bring reference letters from past employers or people that you worked with. Do you keep statistics? Bring a copy to show them. You can bring samples of your work or photos of past projects. (Most of these things you would not leave with them.)
7. Prepare a List of Questions.
When you are being interviewed you want to be engaging. And the best way to do this is to ask questions. “What are the job duties and responsibilities? Would you like me to give you some examples of projects that I have worked on? What qualities are you looking for to fill this job?” Avoid asking questions you should already know from your research or any questions that would be inappropriate. Here’s a detailed article on what you should and should not ask in an interview:
8. Know Your Assets
You should make a list of your assets – talents, abilities, successes – when beginning a job search. When prepping for a job interview, compare your list to the requirements of the job and make sure to highlight these in the interview. Have answers ready as to why you are looking for a job, why you left your last position and any earlier ones. Never make stuff up or lie. Don’t complain about a past job, past employer or co-worker. “Honestly, the boss there was…” does not need to be said. “Once I settled in there I realized it was not a good fit for me so I found another job and stayed there until their recent restructure” might be an adequate answer.
9. Know Your Rights
Some employers are not fully aware of what questions are unlawful to ask in an interview. You can look online for these points if you have questions.
10. Maintain Excellent Manners
Make sure to leave early for your appointment. Know the address. Have directions. Expect traffic, parking troubles and any other possible ways you could be late. Plan to arrive a half hour early. Then if you do run into a problem, it’s not a problem.
Greet the receptionist by name if you can. Be friendly to all, but not sappy. Be respectful. Be yourself. Do not talk loudly on the phone or text frantically while in the waiting room. Turn the ringer off on your phone and leave it in your pocket or purse during the interview. NEVER ANSWER YOUR PHONE OR TEXT WHILE IN AN INTERVIEW! It is extremely bad manners and to do so could immediately sabotage your chances for getting that job. There are also subtle ways to follow up after an interview. I happened to write an article concerning the general subject of “following up without being annoying”:
Finding the Right Job for You
When you don’t have a job, your job is finding a job. Finding a job is work. It takes putting a resume together and a lot of pounding the pavement. If you are not having success in your job search, use this article as a checklist and do each step thoroughly. Remember that sometimes you can catch a company before they advertise, so make a list of the top 10 or 20 companies you want to work for and contact them online or in person.
Of course, you can always choose instead to start your own business and take the path of the entrepreneur. That is a whole adventure in itself. Good luck and happy hunting!
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