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Interviewing Tips - How You Ace An Interview
Congratulations! You scored an interview at a great company or organization! Jump up and down, get excited, and go out and celebrate. Interviews are hard to get nowadays!
So now that you've gotten properly excited about being one step closer to this awesome job, it's time to start preparing for your interview.
You think to yourself, "this isn't my first round at the rodeo... I'll be fine." You may be just fine, but here are some tips on how to rock this interview.
I am no expert on the subject of interviewing, but I did just finish an internship where I worked in the human resources department of a prominent organization. There, it was my job to conduct phone interviews and participate in face to face interviews. I learned what it was that makes a candidate look like a great possibility for a position, and I learned what doesn't.
Here are some tips and tricks on how to ace an interview.
Know what you have applied for. Know everything you can about the job you are applying for including whether it's a full time position, part time, hourly, or with a salary. Also be aware of some of the essential functions and requirements of the job, such as whether you will be required to work nights or weekends. That way, when a recruiter or HR person calls, you won't be caught off guard.
Know about the company you are applying at. Do some investigating and find out about the company or organization you are trying to work for. Know who they work with, who they cater to, and where their offices are located. You will set yourself apart from the rest of the candidates by knowing more about the company, and will stand out by comparison.
Have in mind a general salary range you are trying to shoot for. I know questions about salary expectations can be tricky, but the recruiter and you both know that you have an idea of the salary you expect. I find that it's best to be flexible in situations like this, and in most cases, you can do some research to find what that kind of position pays on average. Have in mind the salary range you would prefer, and tell that to the recruiter. Salary also varies depending on if you work for a company or a non profit.
Avoid "ums" and "uhs." When an HR person calls you, the only thing they are basing your phone screen on are your answers, so don't mumble and fumble your way through the call. If you have something to say, just say it. In your efforts to word your response to a question better, you will come across as not knowing what to say. It's best to be genuine, and the recruiter will notice.
Avoid buzz words if you can. Recruiters and HR professionals conduct phone screens and interviews all the time. Describing yourself as a "people person," a "list maker," or a "multi-tasker" is like trying to sell your house by saying that it has a roof, walls, and a door. These descriptors are mentioned 9 times out of 10, and will not stand out to a recruiter if everyone uses those words to describe themselves. So, separate yourself from the rest by explaining how you are a "people person." Explain what sort of method or technology you use to make those famous lists of yours. And elaborate on how you can do multiple things all at once; what organizational techniques you gravitate towards.
Pay attention to application directions. If the job description says not to call, then don't call. Be sure to include everything that is asked for on the job post. Most job posts will require you to email or fax a resume and cover letter to their HR department, or the hiring manager of that department. Sometimes, you may need to provide other documents such as letters of recommendation, references, or writing samples. Make sure you include all of the documents that the job post requires.
Have someone review your resume and cover letter one more time before sending it in. A fresh eye will always be helpful when it comes time to send in resumes and cover letters, especially if you have been updating and giving your documents a tune-up. It is easy to overlook simple typos in the rush to apply for a job.
How NOT to interview...
Do show up on time. But better yet, get there 15 minutes early. This is the first impression you are giving to your potential boss, so make sure you have a good start. If you think you will be late, always call and let your contacts know when you will be able to be there, and apologize for being late as soon as introductions are made. They have cleared a spot in their calendar to meet with you, so if you are late, you are preventing them from other things they need to do that day.
Look put together. You do not need to go out and buy a brand new outfit just for this one occasion, but you do need to look put together. Plan what you are going to wear the day before your interview. That way, you will know whether you need to iron a shirt, jacket, or pair of pants (and you always need to iron your clothes before an interview). If it is raining, or wet outside, cuff your pants before going out, and then un-cuff them when you get inside so you don't get the cuffs of your pants wet. Simple things like a bit of ironing and weather proofing your outfit will make you that more polished.
Shower please. This (hopefully) goes without saying. Go even a step further and make sure your nails are trimmed, your ears are clean, and you don't have anything in your teeth. If you are a guy, either shave or make sure your facial hair is trimmed and looks tidy.
For the love of everything that is good and holy, lighten up on your handshakes. A "firm" handshake does not mean a "crush the recruiters hand in your super-human, vise-like grip" handshake! Your ability to do the job is not dependent on the strength of your handshake, I assure you. A gentle handshake and a friendly smile will do the trick.
No matter how comfortable you may feel, do not swear during your interview.Sometimes you may know someone who already works for the company, or who has recommended you for the position. But this is a professional interview, and no matter how close you are to someone at the company or in the interview, do not swear. It's probably best to avoid any kind of racial slurs or derogatory language as well.
Keep eye contact. Sometimes there will be more than one interviewer during your appointment. Make sure you look at the person who asked you the question. It is probably best to try and address everyone in the room when you are speaking. The point is to give everyone equal attention in the room, and not to show preference to the person who has the most authority.
Know the names of the people you are meeting with. In most cases, you will meet the receptionist, or office manager first. They will need to know who you are there to meet with so they can call and let them know that you have arrived. Call them by name when you meet them, and as you are leaving after the interview.
Don't be overly agreeable. It's important to be friendly, approachable, and easy to talk to during an interview. However, do not agree with every opinion an interviewer might have. You do have a personality, and this is the time to show it. Be pleasant, but don't giggle your way through the interview.
Don't be a pushover, but don't be too aggressive. It will be important that you feel comfortable enough to let the recruiter know what your needs are. If you have any obligation coming up in the future, this might be a good time to let them know about that to see if it will be a problem. In most cases, if they do decide to hire you, they will try to be relatively flexible to your needs. This doesn't mean that you can make a list of demands and expect for them to turn into your own private genie. You can ask what the next steps are in the interviewing process, but don't tell them that you expect to know under a specific time frame whether you have the job or not.