How to make an impression during an interview
Interviews are a very common step in the job searching process. After submitting a resume, the employer will want to meet with you to discuss your qualifications further and see if you will be the right fit for the job and the organization. The interview can make or break your chances at the job and it’s important to get it right.
So how do you make a stellar impression during the job interview?
The most important way to give a great performance and leave a lasting impression is to be prepared. Review your resume and know it inside and out. Be prepared if they ask you specific questions regarding one of your skills.
- Bring a portfolio. Always have a few resumes, samples of work or copies of certificates on-hand and ready to give out. Most interviewers will have your resume printed out, but you may be interviewed by someone else last minute who may not have a copy. Show them you’re prepared and can anticipate change by bringing a few extra copies of your resume and cover letter. Wow them even more by bringing samples of work, if applicable, to the interview, such as published writing samples, creative designs or websites you’ve created.
- Rehearse an introduction. No one likes small talk and it can often be awkward. Prepare a few things to say that will break the ice. Your interview starts as soon as you step foot into the building. From how you act around others in the office to how to talk to the receptionist, everything you do is being watched and analyzed. Be respectful, cheerful and open the door for others around you.
- Practice the questions you know the interviewer will ask. There’s always a few staple questions: tell me about yourself. Walk me through me your resume. Tell me about your short and long-term goals. Having ideas for these common questions will eliminate award pauses during the interview.
- Treat the interview as a conversation. You want to develop a two-way conversation with the interviewer where you both feel comfortable and engaged in the discussion. Try to relate to the interviewer and find common ground between you two. You should be enthusiastic for and excited to be there. Thinking of the interview as a conversation and not an interrogation will ease nerves and make the dialogue easy.
- Research the company. Surf their website and any recent news articles. Absorb any and all information you can about the company structure, staff, fun facts, recent accomplishments and their company achievements. If they have four core pillars of work, know the pillars and the details in each one. You want to show them that you have researched the company and their beliefs and values are aligned with yours.
- Watch your nervous habits. If you know you have a bad habit when you’re nervous, like nail biting or hair twirling, find a way to keep the fidgeting at bay. Hold something in your hand that will distract you from your need to constantly touch your hair.
- Be honest. It’s important to make an impression on the interviewer so they can properly gauge if you’ll be a good fit for the job. That being said, don’t lie about your qualifications or experience. If you haven’t ever used Excel and they ask your proficiency, just be honest. Tell them you haven’t needed to use the tool in the past but that you’re willing to learn and will work on it before the job is set to start. This shows the interviewer you’re driven and a problem solver.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a minute to reflect. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for some time to think about a response to a tricky questions. Asking for the minute of reflection time will show you like to think out answers and not just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Avoid the post-interview regret and inevitable question “why did I say that?” and take your time to respond.
- Prepare questions. At the end of the interview, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. Never say no. Always have a few questions prepared regarding anything you can possibly think of related to the job – working hours, option to work from home/remote access, who would you report to, dress code, etc. You can really impress them by asking how a certain issue in the news could affect business, or what strategy they are imploring to make the best of the end of their fiscal quarter.
- Focus on your strengths. Don’t dwell on the fact that you don’t know something. Rather, highlight the areas you do know well. Being self-aware will tell the interviewer you don’t know everything, but you do have other skills that may be unique to the team.
- Give a firm, but not too firm, handshake. At the beginning and end of the interview, be sure to say hello and goodbye/thank you to everyone in the room. Make eye contact as you shake their hand and smile. This will show your appreciation for both the opportunity at the position and for their time.
Author: Amy Richardson, Contributor