Whether you are a seasoned individual that has plenty of experience, or a college/university graduate looking for the first professional job – or you are completely new to the job market – the interview can be nerve wracking.
Your stomach has butterflies, you feel sick – maybe hot and flushed; or you are like an icicle – freezing cold. Your tongue is tied and you have developed a stutter though you’ve never had one. And this is from someone that does very well in social situations!
The interview is scary. I’ve been on both sides – and now I relish making the interviewee squirm in their seat! Kidding – but I am there to get the best possible candidate and will use all the tools at my disposal to ensure that I do. The cost of hiring and firing are just too high for me to make a mistake.
That’s why YOU need to be prepared when you meet me, another HR professional, or hiring agency. Our reputations are on the line when we hire.
So what can you do to ensure you’re prepared for the job interview, whether it’s your first or fifth? Here are some job interview tips.
- Prepare, prepare and prepare. Know yourself, what are your strengths and weaknesses? Think about your long-term goals and what you need to get there. What are your personal attributes? You will get asked questions about strengths and weakneses so you need to be prepared. You will be asked about long-term goals. Know yourself, it’s important.
- Research the company. It might be a retail opportunity, or even part-time work – but know the company you want to work for. What do they do? Do they have other divisions? Could you make a future for yourself at that company? There are plenty of stories of individuals that start at the bottom of the ladder only to work themselves up to a senior position. It makes the interviewer feel good when you talk about the company they work for (and where you want to work).
- The day before the interview – get enough sleep! Don’t stay up all night and expect your interview to go well. It won’t.
- If you need to drive some distance to the business, try a dry-run the day before so that you are familiar with the location and how to get there. On the day of the interview – leave early! Even if you have to sit in the parking lot for some time, it is better to be early than late and have to explain yourself.
- On the day of the interview (depending on the time of day) eat a good meal, but don’t go overboard! Definately avoid foods that will make your mouth smell – no garlic, onions or other such items (yes, tuna falls into this category). If you can stomach it, perhaps a protein shake – you don’t want to go on an empty stomach but you don’t want to gorge yourself either.
- Take a mint or better yet brush before your interview – if you are early and there are public washrooms; a quick gargle or brush will help your mouth taste fresh and give you more confidence.
- Don’t overdo perfumes/calognes or other scents – the workplace might be “scent free” (though you would be told this prior to the interview). These items should always be used in moderation.
- Make sure you are dressed for success – even for a retail job or restaurant! For retail/food – business casual should be fine. If it’s a professional job – dress the part. Make sure shoes are polished and clean. Clothes should be pressed with no wrinkles – you need to look good!
- Don’t overlook small things like nails — even for guys.
- Check your face before you go into the interview. No boogers (or nose hairs) hanging out; eyes are clean – no PB&J on the chin. You get the idea.
- If offered a hand shake – take it! No fist-bumps, please. Don’t crush your interviewers hand.
- Don’t slouch when you walk into the room. Don’t slouch on the chair. Sit TALL and PROUD. Show that you are confident and try to remain cool and calm.
- Answer questions honestly and to the best of your abilities.
This might be your first interview, but it won’t be your last and chances are as soon as you step out of the interview you will have thought of dozens of better answers – but don’t fret. Normally your first answer will have been the best for that particular question. You want to do a “post-mortem” of the interview but you don’t want to fret over every aspect of it. The reason for the interview post-mortem is to hone your interview skills for the next time.
If you got the interview through an agency – make sure you call them back and let them know how it went. Chances are they will also call the employer to find out how things went, and will share this with you.
If you have the ability to do so follow-up the interview with a Thank You note. They still go a long way to show your enthusiasm.