Interviewing Tips and Tricks
“How many job interviews should you expect to have before you land an actual job?”
This question came up in tonight’s #prstudchat. Many people had different answers, but the 5-6 range seemed common. All the great networking you’ve been doing (after learning some great techniques, of course) is paying off. Now you’ve landed multiple interviews. What should you do?
Don’t Sell Yourself Short.
Come up with a game plan in your head. Role play. Imagine yourself walking through the door, into the interview. What are you wearing?
Tips On What To Wear:
Men – You can never go wrong with a suit. I define a suit as a jacket, dress pants, button-up shirt, tie and well-shined shoes. The jacket and pants match. The tie and shirt coordinate. Suits are impressive, regardless of whether the job would require you to wear one every day. If it’s too hot for the jacket, bring one anyway. Some places are cold and air-conditioned. You don’t want to be shivering in a thin shirt. Plus, jackets hide sweat stains.
Other accessories: belt, cuff links if necessary and a watch.
Colors must be subtle yet refined. Dark navy, brown and grey are the most neutral. Black may be too formal. As for the tie, ditch the happy face one your grandma gave you for Christmas. Stick with a small pattern or stripes. The shirt should be an accent color in the tie.
Remember, these are just suggestions, but together they create the most basic look that you will certainly feel confident wearing.
Women – Stay conservative. No short anything, no low-cut tops, no stilettos. If you wear a dress, make sure you can sit comfortably in it. No spaghetti straps. Bring a cardigan. Suits are also a good choice. Lighter fabrics like linen are great for the summer. Wool is a classic for winter.
Colors are more flexible for women, but stay in the neutral range. Add an accent color with a bright blouse or accessory but nothing too overpowering. Keep the patterns to a minimum. Heels must be a comfortable height for walking and in good condition. Flats are also perfectly acceptable.
Grooming Tips for Men and Women – Neat and clean. Brushed hair, brushed teeth. Tamed facial hair for men (preferably none) and light makeup for women. The best tip is to look natural.
[I borrow some of these tips from Virginia Tech’s Career Services office, where you can also find more detailed suggestions]
Continuing with the role play, you walk into the office and greet your interviewers. What do you do?
Shake Hands: Grip firmly, but not too tightly. Look directly into the interviewer’s eyes or at the space between their eyes (they won’t know the difference) and smile. Pump once. Let go. Remind yourself to breathe.
Introduce Yourself: “Hello, I’m Sara Steffan. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to meet with you today.” Be sincere. Make them have no choice but to like you.
Back to role play. After you greet, now what? Follow their lead. If the interviewers sit down, sit down as well. Make sure everything is prepared to give to them: your résumé, cover letter, writing samples, etc. Also, make sure you have enough copies for everyone who’s interviewing you. They don’t like to share.
Question time. Are you prepared for everything they’re going to ask you? This is where the role play comes in handy. Imagine the kind of questions they’re going to ask you. Maybe they’ll ask about your experience, or what you’d bring to their team. Write down a few key points and memorize them. You want to sound natural, so don’t memorize a whole speech.
For a more detailed approach on what to do during every step of the interviewing process, I like these points from the Connecticut Department of Labor. They offer several different strategies, like arriving early, that will help get you the job.
Before you know it, the interview will be over, and you’ll be hearing, “You can start on Monday.” With these tips, you’re on your way to getting the job.
What are some other important things to remember when interviewing?