So you’re looking for a new job… and if you’re lucky, there are several opportunities that match your minimum requirements. Either way, chances are you won’t be applying to just one opening. And if you’re applying for multiple openings, there’s a good possibility you’ll be attending multiple interviews as well.
Hopefully you spend ample time preparing for each interview, but what does that really look like? Below I’ve listed some simple tips to interview success.
Okay, you’ve applied for twenty different jobs in the past month in a desperate attempt to escape the dungeon you currently call work. I get it… but your prospective employer may not. So when you finally get the call for an interview and you’re asked what interested you about the position, they aren’t going to want to hear “I’m sorry, I’ve applied to so many that I don’t remember what this one is.” Even if you managed to come up with an acceptable answer, the last thing you want to do is scramble around trying to figure out which job description goes with the company who’s reached back out to you.
The simple solution? Keep a spreadsheet! You’re already filling out endless fields in each application anyway, so what’s a few more in an Excel spreadsheet? Label each column to ensure that if you are contacted after applying, you will have the necessary information to prepare for the interview (my recommendations include: date applied, company name, location, job title, contact person, basic responsibilities, and notes). Keep the document on your desktop and update it each time you apply for a new job. Whenever possible, save the job description to refer back to as well.
Staying organized will help you track which jobs you have applied for (so you don’t apply to the same opening numerous times) and which jobs you have been rejected from (so you don’t apply again if the job is re-posted at a later date). And, of course, the more organized you are, the less stressed you’ll be about the job hunt.
Do Your Research
It’s hard enough to remember which positions you applied for (especially when it could be months before you are contacted), let alone all the specifics of the job. But your potential employer should never know that! The last thing a hiring manager wants to do is make an offer to someone who just applied to the position because it showed up on their “Job Recommendations” page. So, if you’re one of the lucky few that get a chosen for an initial interview, you should be prepared to stand out from the crowd.
Research the company, including the mission and vision statements, CEO, products/services, and history. In other words, be prepared to answer the question, “What do you know about our Company?” in case you are asked – and many do ask! The hiring manager will be impressed that you took the time to truly gain an understanding of the company and the position to which you are applying. Plus, you’ll put off the vibe that you’re looking for a career, and not just a paycheck.
Dress the Part
There will be plenty of casual Fridays in your future if you accept an offer of employment; the interview itself should never be one of them (Friday or not)! I’m not saying get black-tie formal by any means, but you should dress the part for which you will be playing if offered the job.
This might seem like common sense, but I can’t tell you how many men in dingy plaid shirts and old tennis shoes or women in miniskirts and six-inch heals I’ve seen walk through the door for an interview. This attire might be acceptable for some industries, but for a professional office, it’s a big mistake – and a quick way to get disqualified.
Know your audience. Look up pictures on the company’s website or social media pages. If you see a lot of collared shirts and slacks in their photos, it’s probably a good idea to show up for your interview in something similar. When all else fails, veer to the formal side – it’s better to be overdressed than to be too casual.
Remember to Smile
Take it from someone who has interviewed more than her fair share of candidates for multiple positions: smiling goes a long way. There is nothing more uncomfortable than having a thirty-minute conversation with a candidate who can’t relax and carry on a pleasant conversation because they are too busy trying to “act professional” and sell their skills.
A smile relays friendliness and approach-ability. It also demonstrates that you will be open and pleasant to your coworkers and customers and be positive in stressful situations. So practice smiling, and often, to the point where it becomes second nature. Because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t rather see a smiling face over the alternative anyway?