As a recruiter, I have conducted my fair share of interviews – some good, some not so good. I know that you are nervous just thinking about your first real job interview, the whole zoo is rumbling around in your stomach! Never fear, for I am here to give you some tips and tricks on how to nail that interview!
Dress for success
There’s a great saying: “look good, feel good, do good” and in the world of interviews, it’s imperative. With that being said, most interviewers will tell you how to dress before the interview; but what does all that mean? Business professional, smart casual, what is this? Here are some full-proof tips that will aid you in dressing for the job you want – not the one you have.
- Choose a two-piece matching suit, and be sure it is tailored to you. Pick a conservative color: navy or gray.
- Long sleeve, button down shirt in either white or light blue.
- Ties can be tricky, but look for high quality silk with a slight pop of color.
- Your belt and your shoes must match!
- Wear socks that are dark in color, and be sure to have at least one nice pair of dress shoes.
- Well-groomed facial hair and clean nails.
- Two-piece suits for women should be fitted but not snug. Pick a conservative color, like grey, dark grey, navy, or black.
- If you choose a skirt – it should completely cover your thighs when you sit down. If you choose pants – they should be hemmed so the cuff does not drag the floor.
- Pick a tailored blouse, a good quality sweater, or a shell to wear under your jacket.
- Choose a leather pump in a color that compliments your suit, with no more than a medium height heel. Stay away from gaudy costume jewelry or accessories.
- Minimal makeup and clean nails with a neutral color.
While these things are not written in stone, they are important to be aware of. I can promise you that when you walk through that door, you will feel confident and prepared to take on the world. Remember: “look good, feel good, do good.”
How to impress an interviewer
While the things you say during your interview are important, what you do is just as important. Of course you’ll hear questions like, “tell me about yourself,” or “why should we hire you,” but your body language and actions speak volumes. As usual, I am here to help!
Be on time!
My dad used to tell me, “If you’re on time, you’re late.” That is very true for interviewing! Always arrive early, it shows that you really want this job and it is important to you.
Speak with your body.
First, make sure to have a firm handshake, it shows confidence! Don’t have what I call the “dead fish” handshake, where your hand is limp and weak. Second, be sure to smile and have great eye contact. It will help them feel comfortable with you and let them know that you will be friendly to their employees and customers. Sit up straight and nod as they are speaking.
There will be a test.
Just kidding, there won’t be – but it is important to be prepared. Research the company before you walk in the door, and incorporate that knowledge into your conversation. Be prepared to take notes and ask questions (what questions to ask will be covered in the next segment). Make sure to bring a copy of your resume and carry it in a portfolio or nice folder. This shows that you take pride in your work!
Most importantly, be yourself. That is what the hiring manager is going to want to see and just like anything you do, practice makes perfect. The more interviews that you have, the better you will become. So make sure to dress your best, sit up straight, and practice that handshake!
What to ask during your interview
If you take nothing away from this segment, at least remember this: do not say that you don’t have any questions. That is a huge no-no. If a hiring manager asks if you have any questions, you need to at least have 4-5 prepared. What should you ask? Well, out of the kindness of my heart, I will give you a few that will help you decide if this is the right job for you.
- Can you tell me about the day-to-day responsibilities of this position?
- What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?
- What is the company culture like?
- What do you like best about working for this company?
- How do leaders set employees up for success?
- How are employees recognized for their hard work?
- What type of mentor system do you have in place?
- What advancement opportunities are available?
- What does it take to be a top performer in this company?
- What are the next steps in this process?
Obviously, there are hundreds more that you can ask, but these are some of the ones I like the best. I have found that when I am the interviewee, these questions really give me insight into the company. While you want the hiring manager and the company to like you, it is just as important that you like them. This job could affect your future career choices, and you want to make sure those choices take you where you want to go.
The best way to follow up on an interview is with a short thank you email. You may think it isn’t that big of a deal, but it is. Sending a thank you note could affect the hiring manager’s opinion of you, because it shows that you are enthusiastic and committed. You know that I am always trying to make your life easier, so here are some example templates, to guide you on your path to success.
If you had a phone interview:
Hi [First Name],
Thank you so much for talking with me today, I really appreciated learning more about this position at [Company Name]. Working with such an exceptional team within a company that I truly admire would be an incredible learning experience, and I would love the opportunity to prove that I’m a great fit for the role.
Let me know if you have any questions about anything or if you’d like me to send anything else. I look forward to hearing back from you!
This is one of those notes that you want to keep short and sweet. You want to say enough to get the point across, but without writing an epistle.
After an in person interview:
Hi [First Name],
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk yesterday. It was a pleasure to learn even more about [Company Name] and I’m very excited about the opportunity to explore a potential career with your company.
Again, I appreciate the opportunity to have shared my background and interest in [position] with you. I think my experience with [industry, skill, or product] aligns perfectly with what your team is looking for, and I hope to prove that. Thank you and I hope we’ll be in touch soon!
Sending this email shows that you value their time and that this interview was important to you. This small action will help you stand out against your competitors and could influence the hiring manager’s decision.
If you have received no response:
Hi [First Name],
It has been a few weeks since the interview and I look forward to hearing you from you regarding the position. During the interview, you had mentioned that you are looking for a hardworking and enterprising person who can improve your company’s functions. I am sure that I have what it takes and am still interested in the job. In case the job has been filled, please let me know. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
I can tell you from experience that this email does wonders. As recruiters, sometimes things fall between the cracks. We do not mind at all if you send us a follow-up email and we are more than happy to answer your questions.
So, that’s it. I have opened the vault of interviewing secrets and summarized it for you with a cherry on top. Of course, these are not the end all, be all – but they will make a difference.