A winning resume will get your foot into the door of employment, but it’s really acing and making a good first impression at the job interview that will land you that much-coveted job.
Here are seven tips to wow your interviewers and make you top of mind with prospective employers.
1. Mind your Ps and Qs.
This isn’t just about minding your manners, although punctuality plays a part in displaying courtesy and decorum. What every career expert will say is that arriving late for a job interview is a no-no. But what they don’t tell you is that arriving TOO early can also backfire on you.
The ideal scenario is to arrive on time, or 10 to 15 minutes prior to the appointment. Showing up a half hour before the interview can make you look overeager — not to mention stalkerish — and put pressure on the interviewer to meet with you.
While you can Waze it or count on an app to determine your commute time, the best thing is still for you to visit the venue a few days before the interview. That way, you get to have a feel of the place and figure out any contingencies that may affect your travel time.
2. Project good body language.
You want to look competent and confident, not arrogant and assuming. You want to gain the trust of the interviewer and impress him/her even before you open your mouth. To do that, you must project positive body language.
Walk confidently into the interview venue with your back straight (but not stiff), your head held high, your gait unhurried but not too slow either, and offer a firm handshake to your prospective employer. If you’re not confident about your handshake, you can practice with a friend or family member, who can tell you if your grip is too limp or too tight.
Your smile is part of your body language, too. Some smiles can be a bit freaky (such as showing too much gums and teeth), while some can make you look aloof (tight-lipped). Deal with your pearly whites by going to the dentist before the big day. Most importantly, brush and floss before the interview, and avoid eating and drinking anything that will stain your teeth right before the meeting.
3. Look every bit the part.
In a nutshell: Dress the part. If you’re applying for a creative position, you don’t want to look like an old fuddy-duddy in a boring getup. If you’re going after a job in banking and investments, then you want to look polished and professional in sharp threads.
Give yourself a once-over before heading out the door, and then do it again when you arrive at the interview venue. Make sure of the following:
· You don’t have loose change jangling in your pockets.
· Your makeup is flawless (no lipstick stains on teeth, please!)
· There’s not a hair out of place.
· You’ve dusted off whatever dirt you’ve accumulated on your interview attire.
· Your mobile phone is in silent mode.
4. Carry a portfolio.
You don’t want to be bogged down with documents literally, so keep everything neat and organized with a leather organizer. Toting one not only makes you look professional, but also shows that you’re super prepared in case the interviewer asks for samples of your previous work or requests for hard copies of recommendation letters, your resume, and the like.
5. Practice answering interview Qs until you sound like a pro — naturally.
This is a no-brainer, but if you’re stumped for Qs, here are some samples you can practice on:
“Why are you here?”
The obvious answer is “because I need a job,” but of course you don’t want to say that out loud. Instead, talk about what you can contribute to the organization and why you’re excited about this job prospect. Keep it brief and simple.
“Tell me a little about yourself.”
They already have your resume, so there’s no need to rattle off your list of accomplishments. What you can do instead is to make a nice little pitch — list two to three of your most significant achievements at work, and relate them to how these accomplishments have groomed you for this specific role you’re vying for.
“Why should we hire you?”
In your answer to this question, emphasize three things: One, you’re able to not only do the work but also deliver great, high quality output. Two, you’ll fit in nicely with the team and company culture. And three, that you have certain qualities (such as dedication, a keen eye for detail, etc.) that will make you a better hire than other candidates.
“What are your weaknesses?”
This isn’t a trap — the interviewer is only trying to gauge your honesty and self-awareness. So many career experts advise listing traits that appear to be weaknesses but are strengths in disguise. That seems a bit tired and cliché, so but a fresh spin on your answer by replying this way: Admit one weakness that you’re currently trying to improve on. For example, you can confess that public speaking is not really your thing, but you’re trying to overcome that by volunteering for mini client presentations here and there, and offering to run meetings so you learn to become more comfortable addressing a crowd.
6. Be kind and courteous to everyone.
The moment you step into the interview zone, assume that you have all eyes watching your every move. That means being respectful to everyone you cross paths with, including the maintenance people, the receptionist, your prospective employer’s secretary, even the Uber driver who just dropped you off.
7. Don’t forget to say thank you.
Finally, the cherry on top of your winning interview is to thank your prospective employers for giving you a chance to show your stuff, so to speak. You can do so right after the interview ends, but impress them even more by sending them a thank-you note when you get home. Think of it as a gentle nudge for them to keep you in mind when they start shortlisting candidates.
By following these tips, you up your chances of nailing that job. Take these tips to heart, keep practicing them till you get everything right, and you’re sure to ace your next job interview.
Do you know any other important tips which can be helpful at a job interview? Please share in the comment section below.