So you submitted your resume and you were called in for an interview. Congratulations! Here are some tips to help you shine at your interview and show the interviewer that you’re the best person for the job.
Make eye contact.
If your eyes are wandering during the interview, the interviewer may misinterpret this as rolling your eyes or think that you’re bored or uninterested. Practice making eye contact when you have conversations in your everyday life. Make a video of yourself talking and watch what your eyes do. Try to keep them focused straight ahead.
Keep a smile on your face during the interview. Interviewers love to see that you’re excited and enthusiastic about your career and working at their company. This is another instance where making a video of yourself can be helpful. It can help you make a conscious effort to smile.
Think of occasions when you resolved a difficult issue, helped a difficult customer, or worked with a difficult client.
This is one of the most common interview questions you will hear. Interviewers love to hear how you handle difficult situations. Make sure you have at least one in mind that you can talk about at the interview. The last thing you want to do is say that you can’t think of anything.
Think of jobs or projects you’ve worked on that are similar to the job for which you’re applying.
It's good to let the interviewer know that you have experience in that particular area by explaining a time that you worked at a similar job or on a similar project. This shows that you know what you’re doing.
Come up with a brief work history.
One of the most common ways that interviewers will open an interview is by asking you to tell them about yourself. They don’t want to know your hobbies, likes, and dislikes. They want to hear about your career path so far. Talk about any relevant education and past jobs you’ve had. Give brief descriptions of each job. Try to take no more than three minutes to wrap up your work history.
Think of answers to common interview questions.
There are some common interview questions that most interviewers like to ask. Make sure you have an answer ready for each of them.
Why do you want to work here? Research the company and find a few positive things that make you excited about working there. You can also use information from the job listing.
What is your biggest weakness? Use this question as an opportunity to talk about a weakness that you have overcome. Mention a skill that you previously lacked but have since learned through education or experience.
What are your top three strengths? When asked this question, you definitely don’t want to say that you can’t think of any. Make sure you have at least three strengths in mind. You don’t get points for modesty.
Why did you leave your last job? Why are you leaving your current job? When asked this question, don’t trash talk your previous or current employer (see the next paragraph for more info). Talk about your personal motivation for seeking a new job. It can be as simple as a contract that’s ending soon or that you were laid off. Some other options are that you’re looking for more opportunities for growth, you’re transitioning to a new industry or career, or that you just really want to work for this particular company.
Don’t trash your previous employer(s)!
This is unfortunately a common mistake. Your current boss may suck, but you don’t want to say that to your interviewer. They might think that you’ll go around trashing them or their company to other people, and they don’t want that. Be as tactful and polite as possible when talking about your previous employer. There’s no need to go into detail about why you left or are leaving.
If there’s a gap in your employment history, have a good explanation ready.
Lots of people have gaps in their employment history. It could be that you were searching for a job, which is very common at the moment due to the pandemic. It could be that you took time off to raise children or care for a sick relative. Or it could be that you took some time to go back to school and learn new skills. Whatever it is, make sure you’re ready to explain it. If you did anything career related during the gap, make sure you mention that too, whether you took some online courses, volunteered, or even maintained a blog.
Be early but not TOO early.
Yes, it’s important to be on time for your interview, even a little early, but not TOO early. If you show up half an hour early for your interview, the interviewer will be caught off guard and inconvenienced. Show up no more than 15 minutes early to your interview, and definitely don’t be late. If you are running late due to unforeseen circumstances, make sure you call ahead and provide a good explanation.
Dress for success.
Make sure you dress for the role. This may mean putting on a full business suit or it may mean throwing on a polo and khakis. It really depends on the job. Research the job, the company, and the industry. Think about how you would be expected to dress for work every day, and take it up just one notch. You don’t want to go too overboard. Overdressing can hurt you as much as underdressing. True story: I once showed up for an interview at an animal shelter in a skirt, blazer, heels, and pearls. Everyone there was in jeans and T-shirts. I felt pretty foolish as they walked me around the store talking about all of the dog messes I would have to clean up. I’m pretty sure my outfit was the reason I didn’t get the job.
Think of some questions to ask about the job or the company.
At the end of the interview, when the interviewer asks if you have any questions, make sure you ask some! Interviewers don't like it when you don't ask questions. It makes it seem as if you're not really interested in the job. Come with with a few questions and write them down so you don't forget to ask them. You can also bring a notebook and write down any questions that come to mind during the interview so you can ask them at the end. Here are some sample questions you can ask:
Can you describe what a typical day would be like for the person in this role?
Who would be my direct supervisor?
Which software applications do you use on a regular basis?
How do you collaborate remotely? (For remote jobs)