Interviews can be intimidating. You don’t need me to tell you that. At this point you’ve probably at least sat through one interview, even if it was for a part-time job at a fast food chain in high school. The thing is, I feel like it’s next to impossible to be an expert on interviewing because no two interviews are ever going to be the same.
But don’t worry, there are still some things you can do (and not do) that can help set you up for success instead of having you walk out of the interview room with your tail between your legs. So let’s talk about some of those do’s and don’ts shall we?
1. Do Prepare
Preparation is one of the most critical things you can do prior to an interview. Not only will preparing make you feel more confident entering the room, but it’ll also show the interviewer that you know your stuff. Do some research on the company itself, the interviewer, and study the job description. Look at the job description, and relate them back to your experience and how you can help fulfill what they are looking for. Don’t feel silly even practicing, out loud, the answers to some typical interview questions. Even though it’s likely they could ask you none of these, practicing how to formulate answers to them in relation to the job will help you feel more confident and ready for the interview.
2. Don’t Be Overconfident
With preparation comes confidence, but don’t let your confidence take over. It’s important to walk the walk, and talk the talk but no one likes a cocky interviewee who thinks they know everything. Stay humble, listen to what the interviewer is saying, and take the interview as an opportunity to learn about the role and the company as well. Don’t be afraid to admit your weaknesses and how you are improving upon them. Don’t lie and say you are really good at something you have no experience with. Be up front, and don’t let that confidence get the best of you.
3. Do Ask Questions
A piece of advice someone once gave me that really stuck with me is to remember that an interview is just as much you interviewing them as it is the other way around. This doesn’t mean you want to grill them with a million questions, but it is important to ensure you understand the company and the role before you leave the room so you can properly evaluate if it’s the right position for you. Think of some questions you have for the interviewer before you even enter the room, this way when they ask at the end if you have any questions for them you have something prepared. Even if they answer all your questions throughout the interview, at least have one or two questions in your back pocket to ask. Some questions you might want to ask are:
- What is the company culture like?
- Why do YOU like to work here?
- What are your next steps in this interview process?
- Can you give me an idea of what the day-to-day in this role would look like?
- What expectations do you have for the successful candidate in this role in the first one to three months?
4. Don’t Make Your Answers Too Short
Guaranteed you’re going to be asked some questions that are probably easy to answer with a yes or no, but put more effort and thought into your answers and expand. A simple yes or no won’t make you stand out. Instead, think of a way to demonstrate your past experience or expertise in the answer. For example:
Interviewer: Do you have any experience using WordPress?
Interviewee: Yes I do, I actually have worked on WordPress at all my previous roles doing updates to their websites and uploading content. I also run my own personal blog on WordPress and my online portfolio.
See, much better than just responding “yes”.
5. Do Demonstrate An Interest In The Role
Obviously you’re interested in the role or you wouldn’t have applied. (Okay, I know I’ve also interviewed for roles I didn’t necessarily want but I was so desperate for a job I thought I had nothing to lose.) Either way, you still need to show why you are interested in the job and place of work, and not just any job, but that specific job. Ensure that you come up with an answer to: “Why do you want to work here?” and “What attracted you to this role specifically?”. I know sometimes all you’re thinking about is how badly you want any job but it’ll go a long way if you can personally tie your answers to this role and workplace.
6. Don’t Be Late
This is pretty straight forward. Don’t do it. Just don’t.
7. Do Dress The Part
You know the saying that you should always dress for the part you want, not the one you have? This is totally accurate for any interview, even if you are interviewing in a super casual start-up environment where people wear pyjamas to work. Make sure you always look professional for an interview no matter what. If you are interviewing somewhere that you know for a fact is more casual versus suit and tie, you should still dress one level above what their staff would wear everyday. For example, if you know the dress code is jeans all day, everyday, wear dress pants with a nice shirt (no tie needed for guys). If you have no idea what the dress code is, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and dress as if you were the CEO. Remember, first impressions are important and can never be taken back.
8. Don’t Forget To Follow-Up
Whether you nail and interview, or feel like you bombed it, do not, I repeat, do not, forget to follow-up with your interviewer. Even if you don’t want the job, even if you feel like you made an ass of yourself because you didn’t listen to the rest of the do’s and don’ts on this list. Write a short but sweet email thanking the interviewer and even letting them know why you are still excited and interested in the role. This doesn’t need to be a novel, but it shows that you care enough about the company and the role to send a quick thank you, and “looking forward to hearing back.”
WARNING: Don’t be shocked if you don’t hear back from them in response to your follow-up or at all. In the last few months I’ve applied to hundreds of jobs (I was laid off in February) and I hardly ever hear back from interviewers, even when I feel like we really hit it off. It’s super frustrating, but at least I know it was nothing I did and even though they may have left a sour taste in my mouth, I didn’t!
9. Do Be Yourself
It’s so easy to get lost in your preparation, nerves, and everything else that comes with an interview that you’re so on edge you forget to be yourself. Interviewers want to know you are qualified for the role and how, but they also want to see who you are and what your personality is like. Yes, you still need to remain professional, but don’t feel like you need to hide who you really are. They are going to want to see this part of you before you’re in the role any way. So relax, be confident in your shit, and let your personality shine through. At least if you don’t get the job you’ll know you didn’t try and be someone you’re not.
Interviewing can be exhausting. Ask me, I’ve probably interviewed for hundreds of jobs in my short six years in my career. It’s a steady stream of unexpected questions, being ghosted by interviewers, and tons of rejection. However, if there’s one thing that keeps me going is knowing that I gave each interview my all, showed them why and how I’d be the best candidate, and if at the end of the day they didn’t want me, there’s always the next one!
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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.