Shockingly, there is an enormous amount of information out there claiming to help your nail your next interview. Do you “dress for the job you want” (we have all heard that one), or do you try to match the dress code of the company you are interviewing with? When is the appropriate time to bring up money? Do I send a handwritten letter the minute I leave my interview?
When preparing for a big interview, it is easy to get overwhelmed and experience “analysis paralysis.” At the risk of sounding like Buzzfeed, SCALE is here with our top 10 tips for your next interview!
1. Do your research.
Research the company to see if there are any recent new articles about them. You may want to speak about their news or ask relevant questions about it!
Scour their website so you can better understand what their business does, the overall business structure, and their mission or core values.
Review the LinkedIn profiles of everyone you will be interviewing with. You may have the same alma mater or other mutual interests, but more importantly, it is important to understand their background so that you know what “lens” they might ask questions through.
2. Dress to impress
A good place to start is by doing some research on what the company’s typical dress code is. From there, choose clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident. You certainly do not want to be fidgeting around in uncomfortable clothes during an important interview. You will also want to ensure that none of your clothing is revealing or inappropriate for a workplace.
Once you have your outfit picked out, make sure that it is wrinkle-free/pressed and free of any animal hair. You will also want to double-check for snags, stains, or tears in your clothing.
If you are working with a recruiter, ask them directly about what to wear. They should have that information on hand or be able to easily obtain the expected interview dress code from their client.
3. Bring plenty of copies of your resume.
We recommend at least one copy for every person you anticipate being interviewing by, plus a few extras.
You will also want to make sure you have a solid grasp on your own resume and career path. Especially if you are mid to late in your career, it is easy to forget the chronological order of the positions you have held, or even forget one! Do not be that person.
4. Come prepared with questions.
Quality questions are the easiest way to show that you are interested in the opportunity and that you have done your research. We highly encourage writing your questions down in a portfolio (or other professional looking folder), referring to them throughout you interview, and even taking some notes. It shows that you are paying attention and are engaged in the interview.
Typical questions for interviewers fall into the following buckets:
Questions about the company (reputation, culture, growth, etc.)
Questions about the position
Questions for your interviewer/potential boss
Questions for your potential peers
Questions for your potential subordinates
5. Prepare for commonly asked questions. Also known as practice, practice, practice.
We highly recommend writing down or verbally practicing your answers to some commonly asked questions. Remember, practice makes perfect. Practice the word tracks that you will use for commonly asked questions, so that during your interview you will be able to focus more on delivery/tone. This will allow you to get your point across in the most succinct way.
Be prepared to talk about why you are looking for a new opportunity. The key is to keep it positive, while also giving a valid reason for why you are ready to move on from your current company. The same applies if you have left your previous role already!
Lastly, be prepared to talk about why you want to work for this new company. This your opportunity to show that you have done your research and that you are confident this is the right next step in your career.
6. Confidence is key!
Body language is crucial to conveying confidence in an interview. Employers are always more likely hire people who are confident! Common things to remember about body language:
Eye contact – make sure to maintain good eye contact when speaking to your interviewer (and when listening to them)!
Body positioning – sit up straight and do not cross your arms
Smile and relax – relaxed and happy facial expressions convey confidence in yourself and your answers
Do not fidget – fidgeting is a cue that you are nervous, and we are trying to convey confidence!
Talk clearly and slowly – you will want to ensure that you are enunciating your answers and talking slowly enough that your interview can follow your answer. Again, speeding through your answers is a cue that you are nervous, and we want to avoid that!
Strong handshake – a strong handshake is key to making a good first and last impression on your interviewer
An often-forgotten part of interview preparation is ensuring that you have a solid grasp on your own career and experience. Make sure to review your career progression and be prepared to speak to each stop along the way! It is also key to stay positive when speaking about why you have left previous positions. Negativity never plays well, period.
7. Do not take yourself too seriously or feel compelled to stick to a strict script. Ultimately, people hire people they like. Show your personality!
The key here is to read the room. If your interviewer is more relaxed and willing to joke a bit, feel free to do the same (within reason). Ultimately, employers hire people they want to work with!
8. Ask the interviewer if they have any concerns or questions about your background.
This is a great opportunity to identify any concerns your interviewer might have, and it gives you the opportunity to overcome those concerns on the spot. It will always be most impactful to address these concerns face-to-face, and why wouldn’t you want the opportunity to overcome potential concerns?
9. Make sure to reiterate interest and ask about next steps.
It is amazing how often interviewees forget to tell a potential employer that they are interested in the opportunity. Interest is not implied just in the fact that you are interviewing. Do not be afraid to state that you are excited about the opportunity and hope to move forward in the process.
10. Send thank you notes!
It is 2020. Speed is key. While you are certainly more than welcome to send a handwritten thank-you note, it is highly advised that you send a same-day thank you email to whoever you interviewed with. Opportunities move fast, and while we love the postal service, your letter likely will not have the same impact if it arrives after the hiring decision has been made.
It is also a great idea to have someone review your note before sending. Whether it is your recruiter or someone you trust (who hopefully has a solid grasp on proper spelling and grammar), have someone review it. Even the best spellers and most detail-oriented folks sometimes slip up, and you do not want a small error or poor wording to come between you and your dream job.