Going into a job interview blindly, while spontaneous and enthusiastic is NOT the smartest move. Preparation is important in the workplace and there is no such thing as being over prepared. You should research the company, its achievements, its future goals, and relevant industry trends to understand your future role and formulate an idea of what you can offer. It’s a good idea to look into the background and achievements of your interviewer as well, they have (most likely) looked into you and have prepared some questions based off your experience they want to discuss with you. What better way to engage in conversation than to show you have taken an interest in their achievements as well.
Have a game plan
Before you show up to your interview make sure you have a few points planned out that you want to get across during the interview. Interviewers rely more on personal presentation and competence than your resume. If your resume was enough, you would not need to come in for an interview. Speak with confidence, and make your stories clear and to the point. This isn’t coffee with an old high school friend, you are trying to sell yourself as an employee. Make sure to highlight your strengths, your past achievements and how you plan to use your knowledge to the benefit of the company. Make sure you get across a few important messages by the time the interview is over.
Work with what you have
You may not have experience relative to the industry you are hoping to get a job in but you do have experience in situations that will translate across all industries. Discuss some of the things you’ve dealt with in past companies where you overcame a situation, resolved a dispute, or pulled off task in half the time it required. Demonstrate the qualities that make you stand out, and add value to any employer. If you are interviewing for a position in sales but have never worked in retail, you can mention a time when you used similar skills to fundraise an event, organize a trip, manage a team etc. You have skills that are applicable to all situations, you just have to find the right way to emphasize your potential.
First impressions are everything
The first 30 seconds of an interview, phone conversation, or skype tell a lot about you. Punctuation is half the battle. Don’t be late. If you have an interview at 9:00am, and you show up at 9:00am you are late. Early is arriving 30 minutes prior to your appointment, on time is arriving 15 minute prior, late is arriving at the time of the appointment, and anything after that is unacceptable. How you appear, speak, present yourself is the other half. Are you confident? Are you dressed appropriately? Are you annunciating? What type of language are you using? All these factors will be evaluated within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. Like any form of advertisement, you have a small window in which to sell yourself so you better make it good, or you will lose your audience forever.
Expect the hard questions but focus on the big picture
If you read a script with a list full of questions and memorize all the answers in hopes that your interview will ask those specific questions, your setting yourself up for panic and ultimate failure. It’s not about having a robotic conversation in which question “A”, is matched with answer “A”, and so on until it’s over. It’s about being able to think on your feet, to have a seamless flowing conversation that lets your interviewer know you are capable of intellectual conversation. Read the room, it’s not always about you; your interview may want to do the majority of the talking and you should let them. Listening, and knowing when to speak is just as important. Like to joke a lot? You may win over the heart of your employer OR rub them the wrong way, its best to place it safe. Sometimes you can be prepared, pull out all the stops, and the interviewer doesn’t respond well and that’s okay. Try not to over analyze or to compensate as you will make things worse. Remain calm and carry on with the interview as if every question is the first question.
Job interviews are a part of life that we all have to go through if we want to be employed. They are never easy but then can be easier if you put in the time to prepare beforehand. Like anything in life, doing your due diligence will up your chances of success tenfold and most importantly relieve your conscious of struggling with the thought that you could have done more. There is no feeling worse than knowing you alone, are the reason you did not succeed.