Now that you’ve gotten the interview, checkout these tips to be unforgettable.
By Melanie Salemno
I recently graduated from American University in December 2016. It was a long path to get there, but at the beginning of December, I was fortunate enough to have a selection of jobs to choose from. I made mistakes along the way, and it was definitely overwhelming, but in the end it all worked out for me. A few weeks ago, I recommend some tips for getting that first interview. Now I’m back to offer suggestions to help you nail it.
Even the most qualified job seekers need to develop their interview technique. Interviewing is a skill; and the cliché is right, there are no second chances to make a first impression. No need to fear, just prepare yourself and your stories and you’ll walk away leaving everyone impressed.
- Be yourself. Number one rule in my opinion is to always be yourself. If you have to act differently for the interview, then the job will be completely wrong for you. Both you and the company you’re applying for should be interested in one another. Getting any job may seem like a good idea now, but three months down the line when you can’t bring yourself to get out of bed for work, you’re going to regret applying to those random places. Interviews are a “two-way street.” Make sure this is a good fit. Your passion will come through, and only make you look like a better candidate.
- Practice! The art of acing an interview boils down to storytelling. Prepare stories to illustrate your capabilities and skills instead of listing them off. You can expect an interviewer to ask about your proudest career moment, a challenge you overcame and your strengths and weakness. Think back to your experiences in advance and prepare stories to answers these questions. Describing them to a friend, or recording yourself are great ways to improve. It may seem annoying, but you’ll thank yourself later when you’re nervous in the interview and you avoid rambling.
- Read through the job description. Something that helped me in my preparation was reading through the job descriptions in advance, thoroughly. Job descriptions list basic skills and tasks needed to be successful in that position. I would print the job description and then go through each bullet point one by one and write down a time when I exhibited that skill or completed that task. Then I would take that list and develop my stories (see how it all comes together?). This is one of the best ways I was able to effectively express my qualifications for the jobs I was applying for.
- Exercise good nonverbal communication. Not only are you being judged on what you say, but you are being analyzed on how you say it. Make sure you demonstrate confidence by standing straight, making eye contact and connecting with a firm handshake. However, be careful not to come off as cocky. There is a fine balance between confidence and modesty, and be sure not to cross the line. Attitude is everything. You’re awesome, and you should show that, but don’t be braggy.
- Dress to impress. Today’s work culture is much more relaxed and casual, but that doesn’t mean you can wear jeans and a blazer to the the interview, like you would a normal work day. Show how much you care by demonstrating the effort you’re putting into looking nice and respectable. If you’re not sure what to wear, AU’s career center has some suggestions.
- Ask questions. My go-to was always asking about company culture. Make sure to express your interest by asking strong questions. I was always curious about the learning curve and growth opportunities. Just be honest and ask about the things you genuinely want to know. Be careful to reserve logistical questions, like compensation and PTO, for HR to prevent coming off as only concerned about the money.
Interviews are stressful, but they don’t have to be. Take the time to prepare and you will feel much more relaxed on the big day. Then naturally you’ll come off warmer, more confident and better qualified. And most importantly, remember this is just as much your interview to see if you’ll like working there. Now go out there and score some offers!