By Emma Hackett, Staff Writer
There are few words which inspire as much dread and anticipation as those two when placed beside each other (especially when they’re in bold). Being interviewed for a job is admittedly one of the most intimidating things a person can go through - however, we all know that it is a necessary step in achieving our high-powered job by creating the effective opportunity to show off our skills and accomplishments. Here are six tips to help you ace your next big interview:
1. Research and Reach Out
It’s essential to spend a lot of time looking into the company that you’re interviewing for, with a particular view towards the position you want yourself. You should have the answers to at least these specific questions before the interview:
1. Who exactly will you be talking to? What is their position?
2. What is the dress code?
3. What is the exact address of the office or location of the interview?
You should also ask for a detailed job description if you don’t have one. This is basically a list of what your potential employer is looking for, and is therefore pretty much gold in terms of interview prep. The HR department will probably be able to help you out in this regard - if not, then go ahead and get in touch with the supervisor of the department, or the person who is your potential future boss. In fact, it’s a good idea to get in touch with that person anyway, even if it is just to have a brief chat discussing the needs or goals of the position. It may seem overly-zealous, but honestly, the boss will probably be impressed by your initiative (and making contact before the interview will give you a leg up on the competition).
2. Boost Your Health
It is possible to significantly boost your health and well-being before a big interview, even if you only have a few days. Sleeping at least 7 hours a night, eating healthy, balanced meals, and working out will improve not only your physical wellbeing, but also, your mental alertness. And keeping your mind alert and body well-rested is absolutely essential to acing an interview.
3. Look the Part
“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” is an age-old maxim never more true than when you’re interviewing for a job. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the dress code of the company you’re interviewing for (example: is it strictly business or business casual?). It’s usually a good idea to find out what the company’s employees typically wear.
This area also includes assessing more general aspects of your appearance. Think about all of the little things - does your hair need to be cut? How will you style it on the day of the interview? Are your shoes clean and polished? Is your outfit clean and wrinkle-free? These things might seem small, but their sum total constitutes the first impression that people will have of you, and they’re therefore pretty important. So be sure to take care of them at least a day or two before the interview.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
Amidst all of the prep work and forethought that precedes a big interview, it can sometimes be easy to forget that the interview itself is a bit like a performance - the person being interviewed has to present the absolute best version of him/herself in a limited amount of time through a series of questions. And, as is the case with any performance, practice is absolutely necessary to achieve success. Collect some of the most common interview questions (a pretty thorough list can be found here) and formulate your answers to all of them. Working on personal stories can be a nice touch occasionally; it's also important to think about what your employer most wants to hear. Every employer wants to be reassured that their potential employee has the skills to be a valuable addition to their organization - you just have to provide that reassurance, and it comes down to the way that you answer the questions. So, practice away.
5. Get There Early
It’s always a good idea to show up at least 5-10 minutes early for an interview - this gives you a little buffer of time in case anything should come up. There is nothing more unprofessional than arriving late, and if, heaven forbid, your interviewer has had to wait for you, you will have to do a lot of backpedaling to redeem yourself from this pretty terrible first impression.
6. Be Confident!
This is probably one of the most important points to make when talking about nailing an interview. If you have the tools, there is absolutely no reason for you to not be confident and sure of yourself. A confident person will inspire confidence in others, and that is such an important step to building rapport with your interviewer. There are also plenty of resources for psyching yourself out before an interview, which can be very helpful in inspiring a self-confident attitude. I’ve also found that it’s very effective to come up with just one short but meaningful phrase, which you can kind of repeat to yourself right before you go in. Mine for a while was “You got this”; as trite and corny as it sounds, allowing the reality of those words - that I did have what it took to completely own whatever it was that I was about to do - to really sink in gave me the confidence I needed to land the jobs (and even receive some scholarships) that I wanted.
Hopefully, these tips will be helpful in your efforts to land the job of your dreams. Good luck, and knock ‘em dead!