Updated: Jan 3
We all have been there, or will be at some point; The very nerve-wracking feeling, sweaty palms, the pit in your throat. All you want is for them to like you, to really, REALLY like you. You want them to think you are the right fit for them.
Job interviews: they should not be this scary. After all, you are being asked about yourself. However, if you're like me, you start to doubt yourself and your qualities. That is why I decided to do my research, make a list, and organize them into helpful information I can share with my fellow job seekers!
Before the Interview
Research the company. Learn as much as you can about the company and the position that is open. Knowing this information ahead of time shows how serious you are about the position.
Update your Resume. Please, Please, PLEASE, proofread, spell check, and then have a second pair of eyes proofread it for you. There is nothing more embarrassing than having a misspelled word or grammar mistake on your professional résumé. Also, make sure to have your cover letter personalized for the right company. Having the wrong position at the wrong company basically takes you out of the running. I have seen it happen to fellow job seekers before. If these unfortunate things happen to you, do not send a revised résumé. The damage is already done. Besides, if the company did not pick up on those mistakes, you don't want to point them out.
The Prep. By this point, you have already put yourself out there and landed an interview. First and foremost, eat a light breakfast the day of. Your nerves might have you feeling like you're not hungry, but something light and dairy-free will keep your stomach settled. Print out a few copies of your résumé and whatever materials they requested. If you are in the art field, like I am, always bring your portfolio. Artsy jobs tend to not let us know whether to bring one or not, so always make sure you have that with you. Do not carry these materials in a torn-up folder. Also, bring with you a notepad and pens.
Dress professionally. Even if the company's culture is laid back and super casual, you should still wear something professional and suit-like. Ladies, plan to wear a suit-like dress with no loud prints or patterns on it. Avoid any oversized or layered jewelry and wear natural makeup. Keep your hair simple and out of your face. My favorite interview hairstyles are a neat bun or half-up hairstyles. Fellas, even if you hate suits, wear one. You may also be able to get away with a button-down shirt and slacks.
Arrival. Be on time! You do not want to be late but you also do not want to arrive too early. I tend to plan out my travels with enough time to get lost and still make it there on time. For those rare cases that I do not get lost or the subway/bus are not delayed, I sit in the nearest Starbucks or I scout the area.
Things to do before entering the office. Turn off your phone and spit out your gum. I am also going to suggest giving yourself one last look in the mirror. I once did an interview only to find out when it was all over that I had blueberries stick in my teeth.
Here you go! It is now or never, so let's get it right before never becomes scarier of a word. Just remember these helpful tips:
Be confident, but not cocky.
Eye contact, smiling, and head nodding.
Be polite and energetic: Be nice to everyone in and around the building. You never know who works at the company or who will be interviewing you.
Maintain good posture.
Do not be negative: Do not trash talk about your previous job, do not talk about things you don't want to do. You need to be open to any work that comes your way.
Do not ask about money during the first interview.
Do not talk too much. You do not want to be a chatterbox, despite your nerves, but you do not want to give just one-worded answers. Also, do not interrupt the person who is interviewing you.
Prepare yourself to answer some of the most popular questions typically asked during a job interview. Here is my breakdown of some of the popular questions with the best possible answer you can give them.
Tell me about yourself. Be careful. This doesn't mean to mention your favorite color and talk about the litter of cats you own and love dearly. Mention only the qualities, interests, and experiences that fit the job description. For instance, I would mention my schooling, my love for writing and reading, and how I manage a lifestyle blog as a hobby.
What's your weakness? You might think the correct answer to this time bomb question is "I work too hard and I'm a perfectionist", yet it is not. Pick a real weakness in the industry that you are actively trying to improve. For example: maybe there is a new computer program people are using and you have yet to master.
Why do you want this job? Do not say money, even if it is true. Answer with what would show you are passionate and interested in the line of work.
Do you have any questions? YES! Always ask a question! Questions mean you are engaged in the position. The night before, come up with five questions you can ask them. You do not want to just prepare one just in case they answer that question during the interview. Here are some possible questions you can use:
Is there anything in my application that concerns you?
What qualities do you feel will most benefit a new hire in this role?
What problems can I help you solve?
What mistakes have people in this position made?
What does a day-to-day agenda look like in this role?
At the end of the interview, ask when a decision is going to be made and when it is appropriate for you to follow up. On the way out, make sure to thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
After the Interview:
Manners. Send a ‘Thank You’ email within 24 hours of the interview. This step is important. Some places will not hire if this step is ignored. Thank the recipient for meeting with you, as well as any other individuals that were a part of the interview process, such as the HR or hiring rep. Make it clear you are very excited about this opportunity. Let them know you hope to hear back.
Follow up if you have not heard back by the date specified mentioned during the interview. Do not follow up before that date.
DO NOT tweet, Facebook post, or blog about the interview.
I hope all of you find this helpful and, more importantly, helps you land the job!