You sent out your resume and cover letter – perfected after much stress and editing – and you received the magical response we all hope to hear when applying for a job: “We’d love to sit down and speak with you. Do you have any time this week?” The excitement kicks in but is quickly overrun by panic. Now comes the really hard part: selling yourself through an interview. If you’re anything like me, you know how intimidating it can be to go into a room of experts and tell them why you’re better than anyone else they’ll speak with. Here are 10 tips that can help you be prepared for that interview!
You will be doing yourself no favors by panicking. Before you even begin to prepare, take a deep breath. Then take another. For Millennials especially, it can often be easier to present yourself in the form of paper – a resume, a cover letter, a portfolio – but when it comes to actually speaking to someone it can be terrifying. Flashbacks from giving timed speeches in elementary school can start playing in their minds… or maybe that is just me. The point is, no one knows more about you than you do. Breathe, then start your preparation.
2. Research the company.
While you should have reviewed the job before you even submitted your application, it is now time to start your in-depth research. I’m not talking about just a quick peruse through their website; you want to treat this like it’s your final thesis and your diploma depends on it. You want to know everything. You want to look at the company’s website, their LinkedIn page, and even reviews if they’re available. Just make sure that if you do check out sites like Glassdoor, that you take the reviews with a grain of salt.
3. Look up other job applications for this position.
I am sure that you did not just send out your resume to one company, you have probably looked over dozens of applications for similar roles, but now that you have an interview scheduled, read over the specifics of what other companies are looking for. If the company you’re interviewing with doesn’t list a certain qualification that other jobs do, it gives you the opportunity to show them that you are able to give them something they weren’t able to think of themselves.
4. Memorize your resume.
Do you remember ever detail that you exaggerated on your resume? Probably not. Do you want to look like you lied on your resume when the interviewer brings something up that you forgot? Definitely not. Review the resume that you submitted to that company and anything else that you may have told them – whether in a phone interview or a cover letter. Also, make sure that if there’s an updated version of it that you bring it to your interview and you’re prepared to talk about what is different.
5. Practice with a friend or colleague.
You may be the best public speaker in the world, but it never hurts to practice. For the rest of us who struggle with interviews, practicing an interview can help us feel more comfortable talking about ourselves and our skills. A friend or colleague can also point out to you if you talk too fast, fidget, or have any other nervous ticks that an interviewer will notice.
6. Look up keywords for the type of position you’re interviewing for.
Google “key words for marketing job” or “finance job” or anything other industry and you will be met with many pages giving you the buzzwords that employers look for in that field. Try and work a couple of those into your interview when you talk about your work experience.
7. Talk yourself up.
Confidence is key in an interview. If you walk in, head down, panicky, and quiet, no one will want to hire you – or even talk to you, to be honest. Before your interview, get in front of your mirror and tell yourself how awesome you are. I’m serious. You landed this interview, they’re clearly interested in you. If you’re not comfortable talking to yourself – maybe because you have roommates who will look at you like you’re insane – then try some power poses to boost your confidence.
8. Prepare questions.
When I went on my first job interview, I thought that everything had gone perfectly. I vibed with the interviewer, I spoke with confidence, and I really believed that I would get the job. My big mistake that completely messed up my interview was that I didn’t ask a single question. In my mind, everything was pretty clear: the details of the job, the responsibilities, the pay, everything. Interviewers want you to ask questions. They want to know that you’re interested, not only in the job, but the company itself as well. Questions like, “Can you walk me through a typical day of someone in this position?” and, “Where do you see the company in five years?” typically go over well.
9. Plan out your outfit the night before.
There’s nothing worse than waking up before your interview only to find the outfit you thought you were going to wear stained. Is that soy sauce? When was the last time you even had sushi? It doesn’t matter. You want to look at your go-to interview outfit the night before. Put it on even to make sure everything looks right. If there’s a stain, or it has a weird smell, or anything else, you’ll know with enough time to either wash it or plan a new outfit.
10. Trust yourself.
The best advice I have ever received for applying for jobs is to trust myself. I tend to get so focused on what an interviewer wants to hear that I don’t think about what I want to say. I end up over-thinking my responses to questions and end up sounding like I don’t know what I’m talking about. You have to trust yourself. You know what you’re capable of, so trust yourself when asked a question. Don’t try so hard to impress that you lose yourself in your answer.
Applying for jobs can be stressful, interviews can be scary, but you can do it. Just be prepared, be confident, and trust yourself. Then pop open some champagne and celebrate when you land your new job!