You’ve finally found the perfect job, and after sending in your application and speaking to the hiring manager on the phone, you’ve been invited to an in-person interview. And though you know you’re a great match for both the position and the company, the prospect of presenting yourself as advantageously as possible is intimidating
If this sounds familiar, then you’re not alone. Because no matter whether you’re a recent graduate applying for your first position or a mid-career professional looking to advance to the next level, job interviews can be nerve-wracking. So how can you shine at your next in-person job interview? Keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind:
- Don’t forget to research the company. A lack of knowledge about the company where you’re applying for a job is a huge red flag for hiring managers. After all, they’re looking for engaged, motivated candidates who will fit the company culture. Make sure that when you walk into the interview, you know the history of the company, what its current services or products are, how many employees it has, what its market share is, and who its competitors are.
- Do prepare questions. Liz Ryan advises in her LinkedIn article “The Five Deadliest Job Interview Mistakes” that while you’re researching the company, you should make a list of questions to ask the hiring manager. This shows you’re truly interested and have given the position a lot of thought. Examples of good questions are, “Can you tell me about the career paths you offer?” and, “What do you think is the most challenging aspect about this position?” Avoid questions about salary and benefits, since those are usually discussed in the next step of the application process and addressing them too soon could be interpreted as being pushy.
- Don’t be late. Hiring managers are busy and usually see more than one candidate per day. Being late isn’t just rude; it will also mess up the interviewer’s schedule—and that’s definitely not going to make a good first impression. The Ask Men article “Top 10: Interview Mistakes,” advises arriving at least 10 minutes before the interview starts.
- Do dress the part. Find out ahead of time what the accepted dress code is at the company. A good way to do this is to reach out to somebody in your network who works or has worked at the company. If you don’t have any connections to the employer, simply call the company’s reception and ask. And remember: it’s better to err on the side of too formal rather than too casual.
- Don’t be negative about previous employers. Even if you had an awful experience at a previous employer, never say anything negative. Hiring managers want to see a positive attitude, so find something positive to say about every position you’ve held.
- Do tell the truth. It’s imperative that you be completely truthful in your job interview. Bending or embellishing the truth might be tempting, but it won’t do you any good in the long run. The hiring manager might check your experience with previous employers, or a piece of information can be revealed as a lie at a later time. Either way, telling the truth will score you more points than lying. Even if it means admitting you handled a professional situation badly, all is not lost, since you can then explain what you learned from the experience.
- Don’t be modest. A job interview is your chance to shine. So talk confidently (not arrogantly) about all of your relevant achievements and skills.
- Do be memorable. Hiring managers see numerous good candidates, so find a way to establish rapport. Review the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile to see if you have anything in common, for example your alma mater, former employers, or specific interests. Another way to establish rapport is to mention some newsworthy event that pertains to the company or industry.
- Don’t forget to bring a hard copy of your résumé. It’s always smart to have your résumé on hand in case you need to refer to it.
- Do explain how you can be an asset to the company. Forbes advises in the article “How to Give a Great Interview” that you should make yourself stand out from the pack by explaining exactly how you can help the company. For example, if the company is expanding overseas and you have international experience, highlight it and emphasize how your knowledge can add value to the company’s operations.
Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind to help you hone your interview skills. And remember: always send a thank you email to the hiring manager. This is both polite and keeps you fresh in his or her mind.