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Ten Tips that Can Help Nail a Job Interview

Updated on January 1, 2016

Getting a Job Positively

In today's economy, it can be hard to land an interview for even the seemingly most mundane of openings. It's an employer's market, and jobs are increasingly hard to come by - no matter what your qualifications are. Many candidates are finding that employers are just as unwilling to hire overqualified staff than those that are under-qualified, but with the economy continually stagnant even the most qualified of candidates are having difficulty. Many college graduate job-seekers find that they are in a continual catch 22. Businesses are reluctant to hire someone with a college degree when not combined with relevant experience. Experience cannot be obtained without an opportunity, but the opportunities are not forthcoming. Therefore, an endless loop occurs.

If you are invited to interview, make sure that you're truly at your best. With offers to interview dwindling in career markets nation-wide, an interview opportunity can be the key to success - or it can be the final nail in the job-market coffin. A bad interview can limit or even eliminate your candidacy for further positions within the company. A good interview, conversely, can not only land you the job, but enable you further opportunities down the road. These tips are designed to put your best foot forward so that any interview you attend is more likely to land a job offer - even if it's an offer that you ultimately decline.

1) It's better to be over-dressed than under-dressed

No matter what job you're applying for, you need to be wearing your best. First impressions are impossible to undo, and as unfair as it may be, a first impression is often based on nothing more than your appearance. Whether dressed in a shirt and tie or business suit, make sure that your clothes are well-fitting and flatter your figure. Make sure that your hair is properly done and that you do not look ruffled or messy. Ironing your clothes the night before gives them a clean, fresh appearance. Don't wear too much perfume or cologne, and don't wear any overpowering scents at all. In fact, minimal fragrances are more favorable. Make sure that your outfit matches all the way down to your shoes. Polish your shoes if necessary. Overall you want to portray confidence and security and avoid the appearance of desperation.

2) Be Prepared

Almost nothing can stop a potentially successful interview in its tracks like a candidate that is unprepared for the interview - especially one that is scheduled well in advance. It is simply not good enough to wing-it. Companies want to know that their potential candidates have done their research. Go on the web and Google the company that you're interviewing with. Go to the company website if they have one. Be prepared to answer some basic questions about the company itself - it's history, it's goal and its focus. Also be prepared to relate the company's business model or focus into your own personal experience.


3) Speak Enthusiastically

A technique that has repeatedly been proven to win over an interviewer is to mirror their mannerisms. Obviously, this doesn't mean copy them. If they're energetic and talk with their hands, mirror their movements when responding to their questions. Avoid speaking in a monotone, and put emphasis on key points of your responses. Be sure to notice how your interviewer is sitting and try to equal their presentation. Mirroring may seem like a cheap trick, but it is an effective one. It enables you to relate with them and build an unspoken yet noticeable rapport.

4) Don't just answer questions - ask them

At the end of almost every interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. If you say no, or you can't think of any, you seem unprepared or even uninterested, and it bodes negatively for your chances of getting a job offer. If you think you may be nervous throughout the interview process, jot down a few questions prior to the interview. Bring up the research you've done on the company and ask pointed questions relating to that research. It shows that you're genuinely interested in the position - and the company as a whole. Ask the interviewer questions that they have to think to answer. For example, you can ask what brought them to the company, how long they've been there, or what they think it takes to succeed in the company's environment. Relate their responses to your ideal working scenario as well as your experience. Every response is an opportunity to sell yourself to your potential employer. By showing an interest without seeming fake or aloof, you're constantly building a bridge between yourself and your interviewer, and they're likely to remember you and your responses much more vividly.

6) Think confidence, not arrogance

The entire interview process is designed like a sales pitch. You're selling yourself to the company, but they're selling yourself to you as well. When they ask specific questions about your resume or your past experience, relate it to what they're looking for in a candidate. This means learning the job description that you're interviewing for and being able to think on your feet. You don't want to act like you're the greatest gift to walk in their door, but you do want to present yourself as a candidate that is willing to adapt, to learn and to contribute overall to the team at your potential new employer's office.

5) Do not focus on money

While compensation may be a large factor in your overall career selection, there is a time and a place to discuss it. Your interview process is not the time or place to bring it up. If the salary was not available on the job posting, you will find out the specifics if and when you receive an offer. If the interviewer asks what your ideal salary is at some point during the process, it's in your best interest to be vague. The general rule is that the first person to name a number loses the game. If you bid too low, you could be limiting your earning potential. If you aim too high, however, the company may decide that you want more than they're willing to offer, and they'll move on to a more ideal candidate - regardless of your qualifications or experience. You don't want to be trapped in a number, and bringing up compensation in the form of salary or benefits makes you seem greedy - even if it seems like a reasonable question at the time. If you do get the job offer and realize that the salary is insufficient to meet your needs, you can always politely decline. The interview process is not the time to potentially shoot yourself in the foot and number your way out of a potential offer.


8) The handshake is important

Most interviews begin and end with a handshake, and a limp, unenthusiastic handshake is an instant turn off. You want to be confident with a firm handshake, but not overtly aggressive. When shaking your interviewer's hand, make eye contact and smile. It puts both of you at ease. Maintaining eye contact throughout the process also lets your interviewer know that you're paying attention to what they're saying, and pausing before rushing into an answer can convey that you're thinking through your answers - and not just reciting from memory things that you've already gone over.

7) Prepare test Questions:

Although it's impossible to predict exactly what your interviewer will ask throughout your interview, it is possible to find potential questions and prepare yourself to answer them. There are a lot of common questions available online - as well as responses that paint you in the best possible light. Being unprepared here is just as devastating as being unprepared to ask questions of your own. If you fear nervousness in the heat of the moment, try writing down some responses - or some notes - that can assist you throughout the process. Taking notes while being interviewed is also viewed positively. It creates an impression of interest and can score you some major points.

9) Express Appreciation

When the interview concludes, thank your interviewer for their time, and let them know that it was a pleasure to meet with them. If they work in a busy office environment, express gratitude for the fact that they took time out of their busy schedules to meet with you. Appreciation shows genuineness as well as humility and can give an interviewer a positive end note to completely round out the interview. A thank you note or email is also a very nice touch, and it gives you a last chance to express your interest in the position.

10) Practice Patience

Although interviewing for a new job can be labor-intensive and exhausting, it's important to keep your cool. Waiting can often be the hardest part of the process, but it is a vital one. Don't be in a rush to follow up. Wait for them to contact you, after sending your optional thank you note or email. Continually calling for a status or inquiry can seem like nagging, and patience in the business world is equated with the ability to adapt to a consistently changing, fast-paced environment. When they do call, be enthusiastic and understanding. Carry on a conversation like you would with a respected colleague.

Finding a new job can be an anxiety-provoking experience made all the worse by today's economic climate. Although it is an employer's market, you can take the steps necessary to be the ideal candidate by putting these steps into action and allowing them to work for you.


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    • antigravity profile image

      antigravity 2 years ago

      Nice information, Dressing up well is an important role for any interview. Thanks for all ten tips to crack interview.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      I did the research, but my problem is that I have been out of work because of disability. But, I had surgery for epilepsy 2 years ago, it worked very well. No seizures and I am able to go back to work. So, I do how much money the nurses make. My answer to that question would be something like

      "The same amount the nurses here make" I would just like to be able to word it the best way possible.

    • JMcFarland profile image

      Julie McFarland 4 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      I would research to find the salary range for the position you are applying for - and factor in your experience. I would say that you're expecting to make the average for the position.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is a very good hub. I have an interview on Wednesday for a nursing job. I am very glad I read this hub.

      Thank you very much for the information you have given me.

      When it comes to the salary, is it ok to say something like " about what the other nurses are making"?

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 5 years ago

      Your tips are very good. I only have a couple of observations. Sometimes, when interviewing with a new company, there is little if any meaningful information on the internet. In that instance, you admit have been reading their web site but ask them to explain a little more so you can give them accurate and relative answers.

      I do not accept the theory that it is improper to ask about compensation. If they have a set amount for the job, there is no problem in telling it. If they say that the salary is negotiable, then you say, I understand and thank them and add that you understand that there must be several variables they are considering in determining the salary and I can appreciate that approach.

      If they have a set salary, and it is slave wages, then you thank them for their time and you know to question whether or not you would want to go back for a second interview.

      Finally, in my case, being almost 62 and having a slight speech impairment, I admit to both, stating that it is apparent that I am older than the average applicant, and I do have a speech impairment. I explained how long I expect to work, at least five more years, and note that I had two successful careers as a reporter and public relations director and the speech impairment did not have any adverse effects. Admitting your flaws, I think is good. Now if your flaws are that you are lazy and easily bored, it would be best to keep quiet.