Job interviews aren't much fun. Quite frankly – they're stressful. You're under the microscope and there's tremendous pressure to make the best possible impression in a short period of time.
The good news is there are strategies you can use to reduce the stress and improve your chances.
- Dress nicely for the interview. Wear a suit. End of discussion.
- Remember - It's just a conversation. Sure, the people you are meeting with are judging you and they're going to throw some curve balls your way, but in the end, an interview is just as much about demonstrating you can work together as the technical skills you bring. Do your best to remember that you're just having a conversation with the person seated across from you. You're both trying to find common ground. Often the interviewer is looking for reasons to hire you – being easy to get along with helps.
- Do your research. The more you know, the more you'll be prepared to talk about. Learn what's going on at the company and about their products and services by looking at the company's web page and searching online. Be prepared for the question, "What do you know about our company?" Likewise, if you receive an agenda ahead of time , check out your interviewers' LinkedIn profiles – you should be able to come up with some great discussion material (example: "I see you left General Motors to come work here. There must have been something interesting about this company, what drove your decision?").
- It's okay to bring notes. Most interviewers won't mind if you have a page of notes to job your memory during the interview, so long as it's not a crutch. Prepare short, easy-to-read, bulleted discussion points so that you can glance quickly at your notes without having to study them. Notes can project an impression of preparedness.
- Prepare your war stories. Behavioral interviews are big. Interviewers will ask you questions about your past actions to determine how you'd behave in the future. The examples you present are an opportunity to shine; choose examples that demonstrate your ability to identify and overcome adversity, collaborate, and build creative solutions to work problems. Have five or six go-to stories about your work successes that you can tell which will show you as a strong potential hire.
- Have questions ready. At the end of the conversation, your interviewer will either run out of questions for you, or ask if you have any of your own. Never be caught without insightful questions to ask. They don't have to be profound, but they should demonstrate that you're engaged and have paid attention. Some good standbys: "What does success in this role look like?"; "What does the average day in this position consist of?"; and "Why is this position open?" Find other effective questions here.
- Put off the salary discussion, if at all possible. In fact, don't bring it up at all. Let the interviewer bring it up, and if they do, handle it delicately. Focus on your interest in the job, and indicate that compensation is a secondary consideration to the job itself.
- Send "Thank You" notes. If you met with somebody during your interview day, send them a brief note (email is fine) thanking them for their time and consideration. I've seen a well-placed "Thank You" note push a candidate over the top. And don't send notes to some people and not to others - everybody has a say in whether you get hired, from the receptionist up through the CEO; don't let anybody feel snubbed and wanting to sabotage your chances.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.