Interviews can often be an intimidating process, especially if you’re out of practice. Below are a few tips to prepare for your next interview, and dust off your interviewing skills if it’s been a while.
Do your homework
It is immensely important to do your research on the position you are applying for. Look at the mission statement of the school or company you would like to be a part of. Look at their website and find out as much about the institution as you can. Knowledge is power. Knowing about the position will convey that you’re interested, and will allow you to ask specific and targeted questions about the type of work you will be doing.
If you’ve been invited for an interview, chances are you have been deemed qualified to fill the position. The next step is to find a way to connect with your interviewer. This is important because interviews are often the litmus test for “fit.” People want to know who you are, what you’re about, and whether or not you will be a good fit for the institution. They want to know if you will be able to work well with others, can handle the type of work you will be doing, and what skills/expertise you bring to the table.
Think before you speak
It’s no secret that we don’t perform to the best of our ability when we get nervous. There is a tendency to want to answer an interview question quickly to appease the interviewer, but speaking too quickly can backfire when you don’t think before you speak. If there is a question that comes up, and you don’t know the answer try saying something like, “good question, let me think about that for a second…” instead of firing off the first thing that comes to mind. Once you speak you can’t take it back, so choose your words wisely.
First impressions are often the only impression you get
Dress to impress, but don’t overdo it. When deciding what to wear, always go for the more professional option. In general stick with dark colored suits like black, gray, or navy. Keep jewelry simple and classic. Make sure your hair is neatly groomed. If you have long hair make sure it is away from your face. You do not want to be playing with your hair during an interview. A lot of times people do this subconsciously when they become nervous and you don’t want to look distracted during your interview. Keep nails neatly trimmed, make sure teeth are brushed, and try to keep makeup as natural looking as possible. You want your skills to be the focus of your interview, not your attire.
Be on time
Nothing good ever comes from being late. Tardiness communicates lack of organization, poor time management, low reliability, aloof character, and many other negative attributes that you definitely do not want to be associated with. It is better to be an hour early than one minute late. If you have time, go to the place you will be interviewing the day before so you have a sense of where you will be going the next day. If you have access to the building, try to find the exact room you will be in and familiarize yourself with the area. This will help you to be less anxious on your actual interview day.
Tell No Lies
It is highly likely that the person interviewing you has done this many times before. Which means, it’s not their first rodeo. Seasoned interviewers can often sense dishonesty as it is unfolding in front of them, so don’t even go there. It is acceptable to speak highly of your experience and your skills, it is entirely different when you embellish your achievements and stretch the truth.
Organization is the key to success. One of the best ways to stay organized is to bring a folio with a notepad and pen in it. These folios often have spaces for business cards. If you have business cards keep several in there in case the opportunity arises to provide someone with your card. It also makes it easier for you to store someone else’s card if they give it to you. It doesn’t hurt to keep several copies of your CV as well. If you have a tendency to forget the questions you’d like to ask during your interview. Write them down on your notebook so you can quickly reference them.
Although interviews themselves involve a degree of seriousness and professionalism, try to have some fun along the way. Interviews often require travel, so it’s the perfect opportunity to check out a new city and meet new people.
*Originally published on the Inpathy Bulletin