Contributed by LiveCareer
You’ve made it past the first few hurdles—the resume vetting, the phone and video interviews—and now you’ve landed a face-to-face job interview. How do you clear this next hurdle and stand out from your competitors to cross the finish line and land the job offer of your dreams? The following tips can help you best the competition.
- Set the Clock
Most recruiters will offer you a few scheduling options, so select a time when you are at your most charming and alert. If you’re a morning person, select the earliest available time, or consider suggesting an earlier one. If you’re the kind of person who needs to get past that first cup of coffee (or three) before you sound human, then opt for a later start.
On the day of the interview, show up 10-15 minutes early, check in with reception, and turn off your phone before the interview begins. Also—if you have gum in your mouth, dispose of it. And don’t bring a takeout cup of coffee into the interview space with you.
- Do Your Homework
Research the company’s mission statement and review the job description. You can even research your interviewer by name using LinkedIn. Do a Google News search using the company’s name to see if they’ve been in the news as of late—if you find any recent stories, read them. Use your knowledge of the company to highlight relevant areas of your resume that are in line with your employer’s goals.
Try to craft stories about past successes. Weaving your best attributes and accomplishments into short narratives will keep you from sounding stilted or arrogant.
- Look the Part
As you prepare, try to gauge the company culture through its website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. Are the images casual, formal, or somewhere in between? If you’re uncertain, err on the side of being slightly overdressed. Underdressing may be perceived as a sign that you are not very interested in the job.
- Project Confidence and Courtesy
Are you a team player? Can you work independently? The in-person interview is the time to show your personality, so as you prepare the content for your interview you should also think about the demeanor you want to project—poised, confident, knowledgeable—and rehearse with a friend, or even in a mirror until you nail it.
During the interview, restate or summarize each question in your own words before you begin answering. This will give your interviewer a chance to correct any misunderstanding.
- Lean In
Once the interview begins, sit up straight, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Slouching projects low energy, while rigid posture will make you seem uncomfortable. Maintain eye contact and lean slightly forward as your interviewer speaks and as you answer questions. Consider subtly mirroring the body language of the interviewer to build rapport.
Be aware that there is such a thing as appearing too relaxed. Don’t lean back, stretch your legs out, or gesture too broadly. Don’t anticipate questions, and never interrupt. End the interview with a firm, but not hand-crushing, handshake.
- Be Honest
You can be sure that you’ll be asked some version of the “what are your weaknesses?” question, as well as some other tough ones. Answer honestly. But don’t allow the story you’ve crafted around your weakness to end on a negative. Instead, provide an example of how you’ve worked through, or improved, on your weakness.
Never speak badly about a past employer. If you’ve been fired or laid off in the past, explain what happened honestly but with diplomacy. If you have holes in your resume or have jumped around from employer to employer, highlight the positives of your diverse background. If you’re enthusiastic about the company let your interviewer know it.
Recruiters will want to know why you are looking to leave your current employer. Be ready to identify a motivator other than a higher salary. Don’t be the first to bring up money. It may be best to steer clear of any reference to compensation or benefits at the first interview.
- Find Common Ground
Hiring managers tend to prefer candidates whose backgrounds and interests mirror their own. So don’t be afraid to remark on a shared favorite sports team or vacation spot. You might even want to make a joke, especially one that arises from the situation. Laughing will relax you both.
- Gauge the Company Culture
Do the employees look anxious or idle, rushed or relaxed? Ask to talk to employees in similar roles. A good company will welcome this; an employer who won’t may not be worth working for.
- Express Gratitude
Thank the hiring manager at the end of the interview, and then send another thank you the next day. In a recent poll, over 70 percent of recruiters said sending a thank-you after an interview was helpful. Today’s hiring managers do not have a strong preference for the traditionally written thank-you—the same poll indicated that emails, phone calls, written notes, or even over social media were all equally appreciated.
Best of luck! Now go rock it.
LiveCareer offers a treasure trove of materials to aid jobseekers in their journeys towards dream jobs, including additional job interview tips. And if you’re only in the beginning stages of looking for a new job, check out our Resume Builder, which allows you to assemble one in three easy steps!
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