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Getting a job interview is an excellent first step and to get there you’ve obviously created a good resume and have spent time speaking with recruiters and submitting your resume. But if you don’t get beyond the initial interview you obviously will not get the job. So many people focus on the first part (great resume, lots of marketing) but fail to spend time perfecting their interview skills to ensure that they get additional interviews (and a job offer).
There are a number of things you can do to ensure that you interview effectively and move on to the next round of interviews. First and foremost is putting yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. What are they looking for in a candidate? Why should they hire you? What do you have to offer that other candidates do not?
1. Do Your Research
Regardless of industry, almost every interview begs the question: why do you want to work here? In addition to being prepared to discuss your qualifications for the specific job at hand, you should gain a good understanding of the company and, to the extent possible, its corporate culture by spending some time researching the company. Comments like, “I really appreciate how your company culture seems to value X and Y, or, I read an interview with your CEO and he said something that stuck with me…” will not only that you value the company, but it will also demonstrate your likeliness to fit right in as a part of his/her unique team.
By taking the time to prepare, you can set yourself apart from other candidates. You need to know the basics about what the company does in order to make profits, major accomplishments, how they set themselves apart from the competition, and any other facts that show you are truly interested in the company and industry. Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions about the company as this will further show interest.
2. Don’t Be Late
It’s better to get to the interview location early and wait for your interview time than to get there late. Try a “dry run” a day or two before the interview so that you know how long it takes to get there. If the building has a security sign-in, leave extra time for that as well. If you do arrive at the building early, don’t sign-n for your interview earlier than 10 minutes before.
3. Dress Appropriately
Although the dress code is much more relaxed than it was 10 years ago, you should still look like a professional. Try to get an understanding of the company’s dress code before the interview. You can always call to ask about the dress code. Candidates should dress to impress, dressing one level up from the expected dress code is fine, one level down is not.
4. Be Prepared to Answer and Ask Questions
Take some time to research standard interview questions and know how to answer these questions. Do some practice runs with friends and family. Also, be prepared to ask questions. You should have a long list (don’t expect to ask them all) in case the interviewer answers some of your questions before you’ve had a chance to ask them. Remember that an interview is a two-way conversation, try not to have “dead space” waiting for the interviewer to ask a question. You should control the interview as much as possible.
5. Tell Them Why You Are The Best Person For The Job
A job interview is not the time to be shy. Ensure that the interviewer knows that you have the right skills and experience to do the job. Also, tell them that you are very interested in the opportunity. Even if you are not sure you will commit if offered a job, it’s a good idea to communicate your interest.
6. Have a Positive Attitude
That means arriving and dealing with everyone you encounter positively whether it is the receptionist, the administrative assistant, the security guards or other employees that you may meet during the interview process. The flip side of this is to not speak negatively about your current or prior company, coworkers or managers regardless of how you feel.
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8. Work on Your Body Language
Body language is a very important part of the interview process. How you shake hands, your eye contact, fidgeting, looking bored, checking your cell phone (yes, people have done this), or not being engaged all have an impact on your interview and the chances of being asked to interview another round.
9. Take Notes
No doubt that your interviewer will take notes, you should too. Your notes are important for your Thank You letter (yes, it’s still important to follow up with thank you letters) and any additional interview rounds. Write them, keep them and study them.
Ask the interviewer for a business card, and while it sounds “old school”, most HR peers agree that a follow-up email thanking the person for the opportunity and again summing up your qualifications goes a long way, if not, just to show common courtesy.