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Need a Pep Talk? 15 Tips to Nail That Job Interview

Andrew Garrison October 4th 2016 Education
During your career, jobs may come and go, but how do you even get a job to begin with? It’s all in the interview. Now, when you go for that first meeting, you may be nervous, which is perfectly normal. However, there is a right and wrong way to doing an interview. And it may take some time, but if you master the interview stage, you’re already halfway home and into that office chair of your dreams. Here are some helpful tips to help you get there.
1. Let Them do the Talking
When stepping into that office for your interview, there are probably at least 20 different things running through your mind and even more about what to say. Keep in mind though, that you are not running the interview, they are. What you want is irrelevant, they are the ones selecting you. Let them conduct the interview, and only talk when spoken to. And when speaking, try to keep it short and to the point. The interviewer goes into this with their own agenda and can only accomplish it, if they are the ones in control.
They appreciate you giving them feedback on their points and want to see that you understand. But, don’t overdo it with the small talk or constant jibber jabber. And this is crucial, when asked the question, “so tell me a little about yourself?” Keep it is as brief and as relevant to the interview as possible. Don’t talk about how you love dogs, about how you love the movie Inception or really like chewing taffy. All of these “important” tidbits are unnecessary.
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2. Mind your physical Cues
Remember, about 93 percent of all communication is non-verbal. So watch those physical cues. This includes monitoring rapid pen clicking, excessive chair swiveling or redundant head nodding. All of these physical tics can be distracting. When the goal of the interview should be for the interviewer to see your positive traits. You want to cast yourself in the best possible light. And reducing these distractions is key.
Also, if you look nervous and are shaking during the interview, that isn’t good either. No matter how you feel internally, keep things together on the outside. Now, the person running the interview does understand that you probably are feeling apprehensive about the process. So this gives you a little leeway, just a little though. And ultimately, if it comes down to you and one other person. And they look calm and collected and you don’t, then they’re getting the job.
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3. Dress the Part
Now this doesn’t necessarily mean dress to impress, but it does mean dress for the job you want. Before the interview, you should be notified by someone in the company of the proper dress code for the position you’re applying for. Usually, this is non-negotiable. If the dress is coat and tie or business professional, you can’t show up in cargo shorts. That would be comfortable, but not practical. And you don’t want the interview to be over before you walk in the room.
Remember that the moment you walk in the room, you are making an impression. Within seconds of meeting you, the interviewer already has an idea of what kind of person you are. Here are a few tips on how to maintain a positive impression: wear minimal jewelry, keep a neat look (combed hair, clean finger nails, clean shaven, nice shoes, etc.), don’t chew gum, and carry a light briefcase or portfolio case. Also, wearing dark colors is a good way to conceal wrinkles and possible stains in the fabric. So when shopping for suits, think dark rather than light. And a nice suit for occasional use can go a long way!
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4. Establish a Common Ground
During the interview, when appropriate, try to bond with the interviewer on not only a professional, but a personal level. Tactfully find out something about them: do they have kids, were they raised in Key West, do they watch “The Real Housewives of Miami”? etc. This one goes beyond the interview stage. If you do get hired, you have to interact with these people every day! Don’t make it a grind, the work itself is already hard enough. Make this element as painless and easy as possible and try connecting with your coworkers on a social level.
Now if you find you have nothing in common. Clearly, you are not looking hard enough. Everyone has at least something in common. Now some have more than others, but at the very least you both attended an elementary school. Start from there. Once you get the ball rolling, it’s gravy.
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5. Mentally prepare yourself
A few days prior, imagine having the interview. Imagine yourself in the room, answering questions, and winning the job. If you can see it, you can do it. Picturing the process a head of time will help calm you and tighten your focus. You will see your goal and how to get it. No matter the end result, at least you go in positively and calmly.
Preparation is key. If you know about the interview a week ahead of time, start preparing then. With each small action, you are unknowingly desensitizing yourself to the entire process. Practice going over the questions in your head and coming up with responses. If you already know the answers, you will have them ready to go when the interview begins. Avoid going in cold without any type of prep, it will show!
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6. Do Your Homework
Prior to the interview, read up as much on the company as possible. This includes knowing the company’s history, mission, and core values. What do they want to accomplish? And better yet, how can you help them accomplish that? Essentially, why should they hire you? Now if you study up and know what they’re looking for, you will know how to answer these questions.
If the questions they’re asking throw you through a loop, you might not be right for the job. But this is all part of the pre-interview process as well. If over the phone this job sounds like a nightmare and you’re not up to it, then get out of it. Stop the issue in its tracks before it grows legs. It is on you the applicant to take an interest in where you work. So do your best to learn what you can, especially before the interview.
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7. Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
Now if you get lost at any point during the interview, don’t be afraid to ask a follow up question to clarify. The hiring agent won’t tell you, but this is part of what they’re looking for. They want you to ask questions if you don’t get it. This demonstrates good social skills and that you want to work with them. On the flip side, not asking questions could cause you to get completely off-track and subsequently blow the interview. Because if you are completely lost it could be mean two things: either you don’t get it or you weren’t paying attention. Neither are good!
Now don’t go overboard and ask impertinent questions. Like, “where do you guys keep the rubber bands?” Remember, there is such a thing as a dumb question. Before you ask it, go over it in your mind and test it. If it sounds appropriate, go ahead and ask it. You can probably trust your instincts on this one.
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8. Be Confident but Composed
For the interview, remain poised without appearing overconfident. Which means avoid saying things like “I’m sure I can do the best job here.” While this might be true, you just don’t say that. No one likes a show-off and it is good social etiquette to remain humble. Not to mention that your coworkers will appreciate this type of humility later. These are people you have to work with every day.
However, don’t act like you aren’t up to the task. Employers are always looking for eager and competent employees. Even if you are unprepared for your responsibilities, make it evident that you would be willing to try. So find that happy medium and tone down whatever necessary. This includes strutting into the interview to imaginary theme music or walking in wearing a shirt with “I am Legend” printed on it. If you really are, you don’t need a shirt to tell you that.
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9. Arrive On Time
It’s usually good to show up 10 to 15 minutes before the interview. This will give you time to check-in, sit down, and calm your nerves. Also, if the company has a preliminary questionnaire or paperwork for you to fill out, this will give you time to do it. Not to mention that showing up tardy to an interview is just unprofessional. Punctuality is a reflection on you and your work ethic. So be prompt!
Most companies abide by a strict schedule. If you show up late, you’re inconveniencing them and disrupting that schedule. Not to mention setting a bad tone for yourself going forward. At all costs, you want to avoid the label as “the late person.” Try leaving home earlier and check traffic reports. Do anything within your power to arrive on time. This is also a habit, you should just kick in general.
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10. Practice Beforehand
The night before, either with a friend, family member, or simply yourself; find a way to practice answering questions that will arise during the interview. Now of course it is impossible to match the exact pace of the real interview, but at the very least you will be prepared to answer the necessary questions in quick succession. Going to into an interview cold is never a good idea. It’s like a running a marathon without stretching. For the interview you need to be loose and be able to respond quickly when prompted. Being under prepared only makes you look sloppy.
Practice itself cannot be undercut. The act of practicing literally makes us better at everything. Like for instance, would Jay-Z be such a successful performer/entrepreneur if he didn’t study his craft and business? No. Now a lot can be said for having natural savvy, but practicing gives you a leg up regardless. You want to be the most prepared person in that room.
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11. Know the Job You Are Applying for
It would be silly to show up for a job you know absolutely nothing about. So if you’re interviewing for an accountant position, make sure you’re good with your numbers and that it’s the job you want. Check the confusion at the door! You don’t want to get backed into a corner just by the job description. That should be the easy part. You want to have ample familiarity with the position so you can devote your time to listening to the details of the job.
Some job descriptions can be vague. Like a position advertised as “driver” for example. Is this a job for a valet, transporter of chickens, truck driver, etc? So clarify this with the employer from the beginning, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. You don’t want to have to quit after a few weeks because you misinterpreted the meaning of “special consultant.”
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12. Maintain Good Eye Contact
This next point is very important! When in the interview room, do not be looking at the wall! You should be looking at the person sitting directly across from you. Maintaining strong eye contact is crucial to your success. It shows that you’re present in the interview and that you are being attentive to everything the interviewer is saying. When they begin to doubt your attention is when they cross your name off the list. It’s when you don’t get that call-back!
On top of that, good eye contact is good social protocol. People who make good eye contact are more likely to get positive feedback than those who don’t. In addition, when you look a person in the eye, it triggers an emotional response in the brain. This can bring you closer to the person, creating an intimate bond. Poor eye contact is a sign of weakness and shows that you feel insecure or uncomfortable. Our eyes are biologically designed to connect others, so don’t fight it.
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13. Make Yourself Out to be the Best Candidate Within Reason
You may not be the ideal candidate for the position. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t showcase the heck out of the qualities you do have! When answering questions regarding your strengths and weaknesses, be honest without selling yourself short. You don’t necessarily want to highlight your worst qualities, but you do want the interviewer to know what you would like to work on. For instance, try naming skills that aren’t your strongest, but are ones that you are trying to refine now. Showing that you are willing to improve is a good quality and one that employers look for.
If you bring to attention your greatest weakness, you’re inviting unwanted scrutiny. Make a calculated decision about what personal follies you want to discuss and go from there. Really important, do not lie to the interviewer or recruiter about something not being an issue, when it is. They can tell when you’re being dishonest. They see enough applicants to know genuine responses from fake ones. So be honest and answer that question to the best of your ability.
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14. Know the Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions
Knowing the questions you will be asked in the interview will give you a leg up on the competition. Not knowing these questions will slow down the pace of the interview. And will take up more of the interviewer’s time than necessary. So be familiar with all of the general questions. Some of the most commonly asked questions include: “Tell me more about yourself?” “What is your greatest weakness?” “What do you know about our company?” “How do handle high pressure situations?
And “where do you see yourself in five years?” Don’t over think it. Provide quick and concise answers to these questions and you will do fine. Know your responses though. And don’t trail off by making a “stunning” realization to yourself about an answer. Stay active in the interview and be prepared to fire answer after answer. Answering hypotheticals is an essential part of the process and make sure you’re prepared for that. Knowing how you would handle X situation may not seem crucial. But in the interview, they like to plan ahead.
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15. Be Armed with a Resume and References
Although this is information you probably provided for the online application, it’s pertinent and necessary to the interview. So make sure you bring a current resume and updated references. In addition to this just being standard protocol, it also helps the employer see if you’re qualified. Past related work experiences on your resume indicate a lot as to your appropriateness to the position. Current and relevant references also aid the employer in evaluating whether you are the right type of person for the job. Bring both in hard copy form and you’ll be good!
Prior to the interview, round up your references and notify them that you are interviewing for a job and that they might get a call. If you don’t let them know, they might be unnerved or give you a bad reference. In the job process you only want positive references, so ensure that by keeping references informed and with it. Also, spruce up the resume as needed. In most cases, the paper route you had in 96’ can probably be removed from the application. Remember, the mere length of your resume doesn’t get you the job. So don’t be afraid to trim the fat where necessary.

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