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How to: Nail the Interview

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Being interviewed for a job can simultaneously be exciting and terrifying. I spent ten years working from home and only a year ago did I interview for and get a new job. That was a very nerve wracking day but it was made easier by following some steps to prepare for the interview in advance and also tips to keep in mind during the interview. What follows is a guide that will hopefully put some of your anxiety to rest.

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  1. Prepare
  • Go through all of your documents, including your resume, references, cover letter, and letters of recommendation, to correct any typos or grammatical errors. Print off at least three copies of each and put them in a folder for safe keeping.
  • Research the company you are going to interview for. You don’t need to know every single thing there is to know but if you go in having an idea of what the company does and what industries they work in, that will provide you with a solid foundation. The best places to check are the company’s web site and their social media accounts.
  • Practice responses to common questions so that you have a general idea of how you will want to respond. It’s important to have an answer in mind but not sound too rehearsed.
  • Think about how you’re going to dress. You want to make sure that your attire is appropriate for the work environment and for the position you are applying for.
  • Make sure to present a neat appearance. Get a haircut if needed. Shave if you don’t have a beard. If you do have a beard, make sure it’s neat and trimmed. You want to give the impression that you are concerned enough about yourself and the interview that you put your physical appearance into consideration.
  1. Interview Decorum
  • Plan your route to the business ahead of time to ensure that you leave your house with enough time. It’s a good rule of thumb to arrive early if possible.
  • Greet your interviewers with a firm handshake and eye contact. Be confident!
  • Smile! Your interviewing for a new job. This should be exciting! Flashing your pearly whites will give the impression that you are collected and calm, even if inside you feel the exact opposite.
  • If you are offered water, take it. Even if you aren’t thirsty, it can be helpful to buy you time while you form the answer to a question.
  • Be aware of your body language. Your posture and stance will tell the interviewers a lot about how your feeling and what kind of person you are. Sit up straight, be proud of yourself.
  1. Q’s & A’s
  • Be honest with your answers, especially to the tougher questions. It can be tempting, when being asked what your biggest weakness is, to say that you’re “too organized” or that you simply don’t have one, but you don’t get points for cleverness and everyone has personality traits they could work on improving. Just make sure that you don’t say something that will sabotage your chances of getting the job. If you’re applying for a customer service position, you probably shouldn’t reveal that you don’t like working with people.
  • Try not to give one-word responses, but don’t be too wordy either. It’s important to say what you mean but you don’t want the response to take too much time.
  • Know going into the interview that there are going to be questions about your salary requirements. You should have a general idea of how much you are looking to make prior to the interview. There won’t be any salary negotiations during the interview but they will want to make sure that their salary guidelines are in step with your requirements.
  • Ask questions! This is the time to get as much information as you can. How else are you going to be sure that this is the job for you? You are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you.
  • Something people tend to struggle with is answering what I call the “conflict questions.” This is where the interviewers will ask you about difficult bosses or customers you’ve had to deal with and how you handled that situation. It’s best to come with examples where the conflicts were a result of personality clashes rather that you just outright not liking the other person. Saying that someone’s managerial style would sometimes conflict with how you liked to be managed is a lot better than saying the other guy was a jerk who was bad at his job. 
  1. Post Interview
  • After the interview is over, give them another firm handshake and thank them for their time. You want to make sure that the interview ends on a positive note.
  • Write a handwritten note thanking the interviewers for their time. It’s best to send the note within 24 hours of the interview so that you are fresh in their minds. If you are pressed for time, you can also send an e-mail but always make sure to follow up with the note.
  • If you don’t get the job, don’t beat yourself up. Even if you walk out of the interview feeling like you hit a home run, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re the right candidate for that position. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t qualified for other positions within the company, and it doesn’t make you a bad person. Take this as an opportunity to reflect on the interview, identify what, if anything, you could change about your approach, and then try again. If you have the opportunity, ask the person who interviewed you what you could have done differently. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Hopefully this guide has helped you to understand some of the intricacies of the interview process. Yes, it’s daunting and stressful, but if you go in confident in your abilities and yourself, and do the best you can, you will be able to walk out feeling as though you did your best. As long as you remain true to yourself, answer honestly, and keep these tips in mind, you will eventually land your dream job. Good luck!

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