You got your resume looking amazing, your LinkedIn profile is updated and, you took a leap and applied for that job that is everything you’ve ever wanted. Then the best part happens: they select you for an interview.
You’re probably filled with excitement and anxiety, unsure what to do next. Maybe you are seasoned to the job market, or maybe you are fresh out of college going after your dreams for the first time. Regardless of your status or even your dream job, there are some tips that apply to anyone preparing for a big interview, they are tried and true tips that I’ve been given by others.
1. Research, Research, Research
Hopefully, if this is your dream job, you know the ins and outs of what the job should look like. Any knowledge you show off during the interview process is a plus, though! Be sure you know anything that might be asked or expected during the interview, including possible scenarios they may ask how you would handle.
Be sure that you fully understand the position you are interviewing for and anything related to this position. You wouldn’t study engineering to interview for a sales position, but you do want to be sure that you read all the possible requirements of the job and feel comfortable with those skills and tasks. Research the specific employer with which you are interviewing as well and be sure to note any key aspects they might expect you to know. If you have any connections in the field, ask them what to expect from the interview as well.
2. Work Out The Nerves, But Don’t Create A Script
Interviews always bring out nerves, especially when it’s important to you. Ask people you trust and will give serious feedback to practice with you. You can make a list of potential questions or let them create questions: the goal is to help you feel more comfortable answering to cut down on the jitters when it’s time for the real deal. Add extra pressure to assist you to prepare by doing the interview in a different location or a more exposed place like a coffee shop.
If you are a college student, consider asking a professor or advisor you have a good relationship with to do a mock interview with you or to have another faculty member join them. This tip may not be for everyone or every job (personally I hated when my husband would try to do this during dinner the day or two leading up to a big interview for me right out of college), but do take time to think about anything that might be asked and be ready with how you want to respond. The goal here is to ease your anxiety not to plan out every single word you’ll say. You want to be fluid, not robotic.
3. Have Everything You Need Ready to Roll
In addition to having the perfect outfit ready to wear, make sure you know what else you might need to bring along. You may really impress someone by having copies of your resume, licensure or certification information, or possible work samples. Personally, I found that I had luck getting attention and being remembered by having a packet prepared to present to the interviewer.
If you know you are going to be interviewed by a panel, take time to go the extra mile and have a set of everything for each person on the panel. Another great thing to have prepared is a short list of questions to ask the interviewer. This will not only show that you’ve done your research, but that you are seriously invested in finding the best place to work.
4. Self-Care Does Wonders
Our bodies and brains function best when we give them what they need: sleep, nutrition, and hydration. Sleeping well the night before a big interview may be tough, but try setting a strict sleep routine as far in advance as possible to help combat this. Good sleep habits help with morning routines as well, and you don’t want to be rushing on the big day. Allow enough time the morning of the interview for breakfast, and try to make sure that breakfast isn’t just guzzling a venti mocha while driving to the interview.
If you can plan it out, take time to sit and eat, give yourself a moment to relax and be mindful of the present. Have a bottle of water on the way to the interview to make sure your body is hydrated and to avoid dry mouth if possible. Avoid stress the morning of the interview, too: leave early, take a walk around the block if you arrive at the interview destination too early, walk into the location enough in advance to have a few minutes to sit and breathe, or even to take in the environment.
5. Dress to Impress
Nothing you say in the interview will completely erase the first impression the interviewer has when you enter the room. My recommendation is to take the typical dress code for the employer/job and kick it up a notch: i.e. if the typical dress code is slacks or skirts and a top with a collar, think of adding a tie or blazer.
Try to go on the more conservative side for an interview: your first day in office may not be the best time to wear your new lavender suit/new hairstyle with a splash of color. Self-expression is important but do it tastefully. Try finding fun jewelry or a colorful blouse to go with your black blazer or, my favorite, an exciting LuLaRoe skirt with a solid top. Also, you’re never fully dressed without a smile, so don’t forget that at home!
6. Be True to Yourself
This is the single most important aspect to keep in mind for any interview, but often the one that people miss an opportunity to do. You want to land the job, you want to be well prepared and exactly what the employer is looking for in a candidate, but not at the expense of compromising who you really are. If you can’t be yourself in the interview, then will you really be happy working there? Answer questions honestly and to the best of your ability, but do not try to feed them the answers you think they are looking for. Bring up personal experience when applicable in answering questions or explaining ideas.
7. Make it clear that you know who you are and that you are comfortable with that person. When I asked my current boss how I managed to get the job after seeing some of the other interviewees who had much more life and work experience than me, he said, “You made it very clear who you were and were genuine through the entire interview.
I could tell you weren’t trying to feed me lines, and because of that, you were confident and calm. I could tell you wanted the job, but you weren’t so desperate that you were putting on a show. I like honesty and real people.” I think that sometimes we get too wrapped up in our hunger for the job that we can forget to be ourselves.
Once the interview is over, there will still be that anxiety of waiting to hear back. It is never a bad idea to send a nicely worded email of thanks after an interview, especially if things went well. Regardless of the outcome, though, remember this: whether you get the job or not, the world won’t end. Accept any response you receive well and move forward. You may get the job then later realize it’s not what you expected and that’s okay.
You may also not get the job and continue to hunt for the next thing, and that’s okay too. There is still time and there are many jobs out there for all of us. Don’t forget to shine and you’ll be just fine. Best of luck, and if you do get the job, I’d love to hear what from this list helped you the most.
Featured image via Unsplash