Preparing for Interviews: Tips for a Successful Interview

Tips for a Successful Job Interview

Whether you have been interviewed 20 times or 2 times, the nerves never seem to go away. One of the best things you can do is make sure that you are fully prepared for the interview. This can go a long way in helping to calm your nerves and do your best. Read our guide for tips on how to nail your next job interview.

Appropriate Interview Attire

Making a great first impression goes a long way in the interview process. This starts with your interview outfit. Pick out what you will wear the night before, down to every last detail. The last thing you want is to be rushing the morning of your interview or find that your lucky shirt has a stain on it. 

Most interviews call for professional attire, but it wouldn’t hurt to research the company’s dress code policy to make sure that you aren’t over or under dressed. It is always better to be over dressed than to be under dressed. Unless you are interviewing for a company that would require a suit and tie or pantsuit every day, business casual dress is usually your best bet.

Choose an outfit that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Make sure that your clothing isn’t revealing and is appropriate for the season and weather. Also, make sure that you iron your clothes and get rid of any wrinkles.

Interview Etiquette

Whether this is your first interview or you have been to dozens of interviews over the last few months, brushing up on your job interview etiquette basics can only help you. There are a number of things that a lot of people skip that can really help you to stand out in the crowd.

Get There Early

Make sure to get there 10-15 minutes early. This will allow you time to find parking and make a last minute bathroom trip. While 10-15 minutes early is appropriate, it isn’t advisable to get there any earlier than that. If you get there more than 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time, you will likely have to sit and wait in the lobby and could possibly annoy your interviewer if you are there before they are ready for you.

Body Language is Important

Body language can tell you a lot about a person. During the interview, make sure to sit up straight and smile. Showing that you are personable is important. Make sure to not fiddle or look closed off by crossing your arms. Try to look natural with your hand motions, but make sure to not overly talk with your hands. Also, always stand up and shake their hand when someone new enters the room.

Give a Firm Handshake

Have you ever shaken someone’s hand, and it threw you off by either being very limp or not grasping your entire hand? Don’t be that person. When you meet your interviewer, give them a strong, firm handshake. However, make sure to not overdo it by squeezing too hard or shaking their hand too much. A quick, firm shake is more than adequate. If you aren’t sure the message that your handshake gives, ask a friend to practice with you.

If They Offer You a Drink, Take It

This may seem like a silly piece of advice, but it can definitely help. Most everyone will have at least one moment during the interview where they need to internally regroup or think about what they are going to say when asked a hard question. By having a glass of water or coffee, it gives you a “prop” that will allow you a few moments to think about what you are going to say next.

Always Ask Questions

When your interview is almost over, your interviewer will almost always ask if you have any questions. Your answer should always be yes. Not only will it make you seem more interested in them and in the company, but it gives you an opportunity to find out more information. Take time before your interview to come up with several questions that you can ask when given the chance.

Send a Handwritten Thank You

This is something that means a lot to interviewers but is often missed. This is your chance to thank them for their time and to leave a lasting good impression after your interview. If their decision must be made very quickly and a handwritten note won’t make it there in time, an email will do. However, in all other instances, send some sort of written correspondence, whether it be a nice card or a note on nice paper.

Practice Answering Questions

There are certain questions that are asked in almost every interview you will go to. These usually include:

  • “Why do you want to work for our company?”
  • “Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years?”
  • “What are your strengths?”
  • “What are your weaknesses?”

Look up a list of the most commonly asked interview questions and practice answering them. It can help to look in a mirror so you can see what you look like while answering them. By practicing your answers ahead of time, it will allow you to get your thoughts together and have a good idea of what you will say when you are asked some of these common questions.

Research the Company

Doing your homework on the company you are interviewing with can pay off in big ways. Not only do you look knowledgeable, but it can make you look very interested and give the impression that you pay attention to detail. 

At the very least, go through the company’s website and learn more about exactly what they do. It can also be helpful to Google their competitors and learn more about their specific industry as a whole. This will allow you to casually mention things you learned in your answers, as well as ask any questions you may come up with when doing your research.

It can also be helpful to find out who you will be interviewing with and look them up. While asking them how their 20 year old child is enjoying school at X college might be a little too invasive, finding out that you have a common interest with your interviewer might give you an opportunity to connect with them by casually mentioning the shared interest in one of your answers.

Be Yourself

The most important thing to remember when going for a job interview is to be yourself. Don’t try to be who you think the interviewer will want you to be, because this almost always backfires. So make sure you are prepared before your interview, dress the part, and be confident, and you will do great.

Posted by Michelle Gilbert at 3:19 PM
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