Even if you’re normally brimming with confidence, job interviews might take you down a notch. The challenge of making a good first impression while also trying to gather information on the company, job and corporate culture is enough to give anyone a case of nerves.
Preparation is the key to calming your anxieties and putting your best foot forward. These job interview tips can help:
1. Know Your Worth
Ideally, you won’t be participating in a salary negotiation until well into the interview process. But just in case the hiring manager brings it up earlier, it’s a good idea to know how much you’d ask for. (Note that this figure might change, as you learn more about the role and its responsibilities.)
The best way to get to your magic number — or more likely, magic salary range — is to look at the market data. The goal is to arrive at an appropriate salary for the job, given your specific skills and experience. It doesn’t really matter how much you earned at your last job or how much your friend claims to be earning.
Take the PayScale Salary Survey, and get a salary range based on data, not hearsay. Then you can go into your job interview knowing that your target is appropriate for the role.
2. Make a List of Your Most Outstanding Skills and Qualities
When you applied for the job, you most likely wrote a cover letter tying your qualifications to the job description, to inspire the hiring manager to read your resume and then call you for an interview. But that was a few steps ago. It’s possible that you might have forgotten your own awesomeness in the meantime.
Now’s the time to remember. Go through your CV and pull out the qualities that make you stand out from the competition. Why are you the best person to solve this company’s problems and help them excel? Remind yourself, so that you can remind your interviewer.
3. Polish Your Elevator Pitch
Many interviewers start with an invitation to talk about yourself and your qualifications. That’s where your elevator pitchcomes in. In 60 seconds or less, you should be able to describe who you are, what your career has been like and what you can do for the company.
4. Learn Everything You Can About the Interviewer
You’ve probably heard that you should research the employer before you go to the interview. But did you know that you should also research the interviewer, if possible?
Get the name of the person or persons who’ll be interviewing you, and do some detective work. Look at their Linkedin profiles and other social media accounts. Google their name and look for news stories, blog posts, press releases. It’s not sneaky: you can be sure that HR is doing the same for you. According to a CareerBuilder study, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen applicants.
5. Clean Up Your Social Media Presence
And on that note, make sure that when HR looks you up online, they don’t find anything that will make them disinclined to hire you. That means locking down and/or cleaning up your social media profiles. Depending on the employer, disqualifying content might include inappropriate photos, drug or alcohol use, politically themed material and more. To be safe, if it’s controversial, hide or delete it.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
Ask a friend to conduct mock interviews with you, and go over possible interview questions and various scenarios that might come up. You won’t be able to predict every single thing that will happen during the course of a job interview, but you can make yourself more comfortable with the possibilities by practicing … and then practicing some more.
7. Schedule Your Interview for Your Best Time of Day
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Your answer is less important than knowing when you’re most productive. Folks who need three cups of coffee before they’re coherent shouldn’t schedule their interviews for 9 a.m.; those who fade around mid-afternoon should avoid interviewing during their 2 p.m. slump.
8. Wear Something That Makes You Feel Confident
While being sure to adhere to the office dress code, plan your interview outfit around clothes that make you feel confident and comfortable. That might mean wearing a bold color or a favorite article of clothing (provided that it’s professional and not full of holes). No matter what, don’t forget to pick something comfortable. The best outfit in the world won’t help you make a good impression if it’s too tight or needs constant adjusting.
9. Find the Address and Practice the Route
Street addresses aren’t always as straightforward as they appear when you’re looking up directions ahead of time. If possible, do a test run of your commute to the place where the interview will happen. That will minimize the chances of winding up on Oak Street when you were supposed to be on Oak Avenue, as well as giving you a heads up about construction, traffic and other delays.
10. Leave Your House Early
Even if you have a chance to do a dry run of your trip in the days before the interview, it pays to build in extra time on the day of. Traffic or public transit might be different at another time of day. There might be a last-minute detour. Or, you might forget to pack copies of your resume or portfolio, and have to go back. If something unexpected does come up, you’ll be happy to have the extra time.