By DeVry University
As a job seeker, there’s nothing more exciting than receiving an invitation for an interview. In many cases, a phone screen with a human resources representative is the first step. And if all goes well, an in-person or online interview will follow. Once it does, it’s time to get down to business. Consider the following interview tips and tricks to make sure you’re prepared for success.
Before the Interview
1. Do Your Homework
Learn as much as you can about the company. Review their website and how they describe themselves. Also check out what customers or clients are saying about them on sites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau, and read employee reviews on Glassdoor and Indeed. This insight will give you an idea of the culture and any pain points the company may be trying to improve upon.
Review the job description and note examples of how your skills and experience are a good match. Also, prepare to answer standard interview questions, like "Tell me about a time when…," by familiarizing yourself with the C.A.R technique. Start by describing the challenge you faced, explain what action you took and then share the result you achieved. Have a friend ask you some interview preparation questions so you can practice your responses.
"The C.A.R. technique is a great way to approach interview questions," says Eric Hellige, DeVry University's Director of Career Advising. "The more effective and efficient you are in your responses, the more ground you’ll cover, allowing the interviewer to thoroughly get to know you as a candidate."
3. Look Sharp
Dress for the job you want. In most cases, it's better to be overdressed than underdressed. Even if you're participating in an online interview, your appearance is important. Make sure that you appear professional on camera by dressing as you would for an in-person interview and sitting in a tidy area free of distractions. You want your interviewer to focus on you and what you're saying rather than your choice of attire or personal belongings in the background.
4. Figure Out Logistics
Map out the interview location in advance. If possible, take a trip there a day or two prior to your appointment so you know where you're going and how much time it will take you to get there. If your interview is online, test all electronic equipment and software beforehand to avoid technical glitches.
5. Be On Time
Punctuality shows that you're not only eager to discuss the opportunity, but you also respect the interviewer's time. Arrive for an in-person meeting at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time and log on about five minutes prior to the start of an online interview.
During the Interview
6. Make a Great First Impression
Smile and show confidence through both your body language and words. If you're doing an online interview, look into the camera while you're speaking rather than watch yourself on screen. It's also important to be personable. Just as much as employers are looking for someone with a specific skillset, they're looking for someone who can fit in well with the team.
It's common to be nervous during an interview. Being well prepared is one way to manage your nerves. Another way is to keep in mind that you're interviewing the company, too. They are interested in you as a candidate and they know they have to make a good impression. So take a deep breath and be yourself.
8. Be Positive
There are pros and cons to every job and company. Tempting as it may be, don’t speak negatively about former employers or coworkers. Instead, focus on the positives of your past experiences.
"A potential employer wants to know that you have a good attitude and are a problem solver," says Hellige. "Instead of: ‘In my last job, my workload was too overwhelming,’ try: ‘I had a heavy workload so I made some suggestions for streamlining a few key processes, which helped to alleviate some stress for myself and my colleagues."
9. Stay Focused
Your time with interviewers is limited. It's important to answer their questions concisely so you can cover the main points. Also be sure to tie your responses back to your education, skills and accomplishments, highlighting how they could benefit the organization.
10. Ask Questions
An interview is a two-way street so come prepared to ask questions. Doing so shows that you're interested in the position and engaged in the conversation. Bring a list of at least five questions with you.
"One question I recommend asking during interviews is, "Is there anything that would prevent me from moving forward in the interview process?" says Hellige. "Asking this sets you up to openly discuss any concerns they may have."
11. Collect Contact Information
Ask for a business card or contact information for each of the people you interview with. You may also want to inquire about the best way to follow up.
12. Ask About Next Steps
A great way to close the interview is by asking about next steps. It gives the employer an opportunity to explain where they are in their process. And it shows that you're interested in the position and eager to move forward.
After the Interview
13. Send Thank-You Emails
Send a personalized email to each interviewer that highlights specific topics discussed. You can also use this opportunity to ask additional questions you have about the position or company.
14. Follow Up
Circle back with the HR representative to reiterate your interest in the position and why you think you would be a good fit.
15. Keep Searching
Even if you're confident that your interview went well, continue your search and keep applying to other companies.
"There are so many factors involved in the hiring process, which makes it difficult to predict if the company thinks you're the right fit," says Hellige. "Always keep your eyes and options open until a job offer is officially on the table."