I’ve been on my fair share of job interviews, but it wasn’t until I sat on the other side of the table that I became aware of how many of job candidates genuinely don’t know how to put their best foot forward…or any foot…unless it’s in their mouth.
From someone who has interviewed almost ten people, here are my tips to ensuring your interview doesn’t suck.
- Make a proper resume. Stop Googling “resume” and filling in your information. Get rid of the “objective” and stop including your high school accomplishments (unless you are still in high school). Have someone who knows what they’re doing proofread it and make sure your experience as a lifeguard is relevant to the job you’re going for.
- The receptionist is your first test. They are your first first impression and they have some, however small, input in your future at the company. Smile. Acknowledge them. Say “please” and “thank you.” You would be surprised at how much these gestures are noticed.
- Your appearance matters. It won’t get you a job, but it will count against you if your appearance is distracting to the environment the company has already established. (i.e. A new suit won’t get you a job, but neither will your Sum 41 haircut.)
- Don’t be late. “Late” is on time. “On time” is ten minutes early. Don’t be too early, either, or you may interrupt your interviewer’s day. Put the company’s phone number in your phone so you can call if you are running late.
- Do your homework. Take an hour and research the company’s website and social media outlets. Reviewing the resources the company has made will let you know what they’re proud of and what their presence is in the community. Take note of what they do well and what they could improve, providing the former at your leisure and the latter if prompted.
- You do not already have the job. There is a difference between confident and cocky. Confidence in your skills and experience is a tremendous quality to bring to an interview, just don’t let it stray into the treacherous chair lean that says, “I’m running this interview.”
- This job is not below you. You might be going through a career shift, or a time when you find yourself applying for a job that you thought you had left behind you (internship, entry-level position, etc.), but if you are interviewing for it, I can guarantee it is not below you. You do not tolerate an internship, you gladly accept an internship, opportunity or job that will help advance you in a way that your previous employment couldn’t.
- Don’t badmouth your previous employers. You will not be with the same company forever, so the idea that the company you are interviewing with will inevitably end up on that list is not outrageous. They see how you speak about organizations that gave you opportunities and invested in your training, and that is not how they want to be represented.
- Don’t burn bridges. If you have to cancel an interview or turn down a job because of another offer, speak to the company you are turning down as if you hope to work for them at some point in the future.
- Be thankful. Sometimes it’s hard, especially if you don’t get the position, but be thankful for the interviewers who took the time out of their day to meet with you. A quick email is the easiest way to express your gratitude and will leave a good impression.
It’s worth noting that A) these will not necessarily get you a job and B) these traits are some that should be applied during your tenure with the company, should you get the job, as they are decent human traits, as well as interviewing skills.