Think you can skate by on today’s job interview with charisma and a great smile? Well, unless your prospective boss is the vainest person alive (or if they fall in love with you on-sight), then you are woefully incorrect about that. You will be chewed up and spit back out. Oh yeah, and you won’t get the job. All that you’ll receive is about 30 minutes of extreme awkwardness and the rest of your day spent with bitter regret and self-rebuke. But here’s how to ace the interview process.
Although it is true that some people get through interviews with superlative improvisational skills and pure luck, it is also true that this is a rather lazy approach. That is especially true if this is a job you really want, and especially, especially true if it is a dream job or a necessary job on the ladder that leads upward toward your dream job. So look up everything. I mean, everything. What the company does. Who their competitors are. What their business model is. What means by which they make their money. Is it a donor? Or is it through a different revenue stream? What is your potential boss’ favorite sushi roll? Maybe that’s too much. But honestly, it isn’t. The more information you have, the more impressed your interviewer will certainly be with you (maybe don’t give away that you know their favorite sushi roll. That’s creepy.). If you didn’t guess, how much you impressed the interviewer is a really great indicator of whether you will get the job!
Research the researcher(s)
You know that your interviewer(s) have your resume, LinkedIn and probably your social media accounts in-hand. You also know that they have analyzed and combed through them for flaws, sought-after skill sets and deal-breakers. What they don’t expect (most likely) is that their interviewee has done some digging on them, too. If you do this, it will give you an unexpected advantage (“No kidding? Your favorite book is Moby Dick, too? Wowww.” *fake pleasant surprise* etc.). Knowing about your interviewers will help you ask more thoughtful, intelligent and, dare I say it, flattering questions. Stop short of being sycophantic though. Nobody likes an obvious flatterer. Non-obvious flatterers, however, are a different story altogether.
You know that there is going to come a time in the interview process — generally at the end — when the interviewer will ask if “you have any questions.” Many people just pretend they forgot to think up questions and give themselves a pass. The reality is that most of us are just plain lazy. But thinking up a few questions for your interviewer is not only pretty easily done, but it will go a long way toward showing your interviewer that you are genuinely enthusiastic about this position, and enthusiasm is half the battle in these things. Having said that, definitely, make sure that you come up with a few thoughtful questions for when that “Do you have any questions?” question is lodged at you. Consider reviewing some commonly asked interview questions.
Practice, practice … practice!
A big mistake is lack of practice. Like the aforementioned roll-out-of-bed-and-into-the-interview-room technique, this kind of behavior will not bode well for you. Rehearse before you go in. That means rehearse your questions, the questions you think the interviewer will have for you, and even some of the happy, intrigued, and excited facial expressions you’ll use (rehearse everything!) Practicing also can help ensure you feel comfortable talking about your experience, skills challenges and insights.
Look good. Real good.
It is a fact of nature that people are judged — at least on first approach — by the way they look. No need to be cynical about this. After all, if you think about it, it is only natural. What do we do first thing? Talk to somebody? Or see them with our eyes? The latter! And thus, not only will dressing snazzily give off a good first impression, but it also will add to that enthusiasm factor we discussed earlier. And as we discussed earlier, prospective employers love to see enthusiasm in their applicant pool. Consider wearing a nice pair of dress pants and a button-down shirt. This shows respect for the formality of an interview, but helps you avoid looking overdressed and awkward at the same time.
Just chill. Stop freakin’ out
Last but not least, the night before, you’ll want to get all your work vis-à-vis the interview done and taken care of. Then you should just chill out with a friend, significant other or dog, and watch some Netflix or listen to some tunes. Just relax! Studies have shown that overthinking can actually decrease, not increase, performance. After you have done the sufficient amount of prep work, you should now try to decompress. Try whatever relaxation techniques usually work for you, whether it’s meditating, listening to a podcast, watching your favorite TV show or fitting in a high-intensity workout.
Interviews are anxiety-provoking. But with a little bit of time and energy devoted to preparation, you can crush them. But don’t over-prepare! It will cause needless anxiety and actually cause you to perform more poorly. Last, but not least, get a good night’s sleep the night before the big day. Good luck!
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