By Brandi R. Muńoz, PHR, SHRM-CP, CPRW
While landing a job interview with a potential new employer is an exciting time, undergoing the actual interview process can be a stressful experience if you are unprepared. Interviews are the most challenging part of the job search, so it is imperative that you prepare in advance and make the first impression count. Below are some beneficial tips and tricks that will help you successfully navigate through every stage of your interview:
Before Your Interview
1. Do Your Research
Being able to explain how you can add value to the new company is a significant part of acing your interview. Conduct as much company research as you possibly can to help you prepare for any questions your interviewer may ask. One way to find useful information is to check out the company’s website, as well as their social media pages. Questions that will most likely come up are: “Why do you think you will fit in here?” and “What do you know about our company?”
2. Organize Your Documents
Having your documents readily available is important and shows your interviewer that you are well-prepared. Put your resume and other paperwork (i.e. a list of questions that you have prepared for the interviewer) into one folder with a pen, so that everything is easily accessible. Your interviewer should see that you are ready to engage with them.
Do not be afraid to ask a trusted family member or friend to help you set up a mock interview. Keep rehearsing your answers to commonly asked interview questions until you feel confident in your ability to articulate what it is about you that will benefit the company. Memorizing your answers isn’t mandatory, but having an idea of what you are going to say will definitely help you.
4. Stay Calm
It’s perfectly normal to be a bit anxious, but if you really feel like your nerves are getting the best of you right before your interview, take a trip to the restroom. Wash your hands so that they aren’t sweaty and do some breathing exercises in order to reduce your stress levels. Keep in mind that this is only one interview and you are prepared. If the interview does not go well, you will know what to do differently in your next one.
The Waiting Room
5. Stay Off Your Phone
Although mindlessly scrolling through social media is a common past time while waiting, you want to refrain while waiting to be interviewed. If the hiring manager or staff see you glued to your phone screen, it might give off the impression that you are incapable of staying focused or are easily distracted.
6. Bring Peppermints, Not Gum
Sugar is the brain’s primary source of fuel and it has been found that peppermints can enhance your work performance. Chewing gum may help relieve some stress, but chewing too loudly could be off-putting. Snack on peppermints instead in order to keep yourself calm, while stimulating your brain.
7. Reality Check
Keep in mind that this is just one opportunity amongst many. This is not your “one and only chance” to succeed in life. Everyone gets multiple chances to achieve their goals, so remind yourself of this while you are in the waiting room and do not let anxiety creep in right before your interview.
During Your Interview
8. Smile and Make Eye Contact
Be professional, but warm and friendly. When your interviewer speaks to you, be sure not to avert your eyes. Avoiding eye contact may make your interviewer assume that you are unsure of your ability to do the role in question. Despite whether or not you already know the information being relayed to you, be attentive and alert.
9. Make Lighthearted Conversation When You Can
Try to find a shared interest between you and your interviewer and build off of that. Establishing a connection with your future employer can be incredibly beneficial. The topic of your small talk should be appropriate for a work setting, but also fun and interesting. You are more prone to being hired if you are likable.
10. Ask Questions and Next Steps in the Process
Do not turn down the opportunity to ask questions at the end of your interview. This will show your interviewer that you were engaged throughout your interaction and interested in learning about the company, not just getting a job. Ask what the next steps will be in the process to make them commit to a timeline of getting back to you. If the deadline has passed for them to reach out to you, send a brief email to the recruiter or HR professional that originally set up the interview. DO NOT email the hiring manager directly asking for a response. They are busy and not always attune to where each candidate is in the process.
Brandi is the owner of People Culture Consulting.