Job interviewing can be intimidating. But 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 job 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 will help set you up for success. So let’s talk about some of those dos 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 and the interviewer. Then, study the job description as it relates to your experience, and position yourself as a solution provider to whatever challenge the employer is facing. Don’t feel silly practicing answers out loud to some typical interview questions. Even though they might not ask you any 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 (because they will likely find out). Be upfront, and don’t let that confidence get the best of you.
3. Do – Ask Questions
A piece of advice that really stuck with me is to remember that an interview is a two-way street. It’s about finding a mutual fit. 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, so 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 example questions you might want to ask are:
- How would you describe the company culture?
- Why would 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 1-3 months?
4. Don’t – Make Your Answers Too Short
Chances are, you’ll be asked at least one question that could be answered with a simple yes or no. But, it’s good to provide context to your answer. 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 worked with WordPress in 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?”. Even if the real answer is “I’m desperate and I need money,” maybe think of a better way to connect your interests and desires with the role.
6. Don’t – Be Late
This is pretty straightforward. 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 pajamas 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 every day. For example, if you know the dress code is jeans all day, every day, 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 (you can always remove a blazer or roll up your sleeves if you’re way overdressed). Remember, first impressions are important and can never be taken back.
8. Don’t – Forget To Follow-Up
Whether you nail your 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 dos 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.” That said, don’t be shocked if you don’t hear back from them in response to your follow-up. It can be frustrating, but at least you’ll know you did everything you could. Plus, it can keep the door open for other opportunities.
9. Do – Be Yourself
It’s easy to get lost in your preparation, nerves, and everything else that you can be so on edge that you forget to be yourself. Interviewers want to know you are qualified for the role, 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 anyway. So relax, be confident in your stuff, 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.
Job interviewing can be exhausting. Ask me, I’ve probably interviewed for hundreds of jobs in the short six years of 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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