Prepping for a job interview can be stressful. It feels like there are a million things to think about: what to wear, what to bring, and, most importantly, what to say.
But if you know what to expect, you can walk confidently into any office and focus on making a lasting impression.
Job Interview Tips
Interview experiences may vary depending on what kind of position you’re applying for. For example, if you’re interviewing for a position in a creative field—such as writing, editing, photography, or graphic design—employers probably won’t hit you with the same exact questions that a computer programmer would face.
However, there are some universal pre-interview steps that you won’t want to skip, regardless of your field.
1. Research the Company
Even if you consider yourself a veteran in your field, you should always do your homework before showing up for an interview.
Research the company and find out everything you can about the position so you can get a feel for the type of candidate they’re looking for.
A little research will also give you some hints about the company culture, which can be helpful when deciding things like what to wear and how to interact with the team on the day of your interview.
You’ll want to show that you can easily fit in—if the boss walks around in khaki shorts and flip flops, a power suit might not be your best option. (Of course, you shouldn’t show up in khaki shorts and flip flops no matter what!) Aim for a step or two above what the employees wear to work every day.
Also look for recent articles or posts about the company. Keeping an eye on current events will give you some good talking points and show them that you’re genuinely interested in their work.
2. Arrive Early
Most likely you’ll already be a bit jittery on the big day. The last thing you need is the stress of running late!
To avoid any frantic rushing and arriving breathless to your appointment, give yourself plenty of time. If you arrive early, you can use those extra minutes to review your resume or notes in your car or at a nearby coffee shop.
If you’re not familiar with the place, you may also consider trying a dry run of your arrival. The day before your interview, test out the commute by timing how long it takes you to arrive with traffic. Track down the exact building and office you need, so you won’t have to wander around asking for directions when it’s time for the real thing.
You’ll feel much more confident if you know exactly what to expect, and you can focus on your mental preparation instead of mundane logistics.
3. Be Honest
This is a solid rule for any kind of interview. Even if they seem harmless, little white lies about your abilities tend to reveal themselves pretty quickly once you’ve started a new job.
This puts you in a pretty awkward situation that can even cost you your new job and your reputation.
If you’re asked about a concept you’re not familiar with, be honest. Explain that you haven’t come across that yet, but you’re confident that you could learn quickly.
Then, try to shift the focus back to your other relevant knowledge and skills as best you can.
4. Be Yourself
Don’t try to be too stuffy or formal. Your responses should be thoughtful, but if you try speaking in a way you’re not used to, you’re more likely to make mistakes and come off as insincere.
Remember that the interviewers are just people, too, so don’t be afraid to strike up a little conversation, especially if you can tie in any relevant hobbies or experiences.
This is a great way to break the ice and form connections right away. Having someone on your side never hurts!
5. Ask Your Own Questions
Job interviews are two-way streets, even if they don’t always feel that way. You’ll want to make sure that the job will actually be a good fit for both of you, so always come prepared with a few questions of your own.
Asking intelligent questions also offers you one more chance to shine. Your potential employer will be impressed by your initiative and your sincere interest in the position.
A few examples of questions you might ask:
- Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities for this position?
- What do you like best about working here?
- What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to succeed in this role?
- Where do you see this company in the next five years?
- Can you tell me more about the company culture?
- What’s the typical career path of someone in this position?
6. Always Follow Up
You should always follow up with a thank you e-mail or letter to show your appreciation for the interviewer’s time.
This is also one last opportunity to mention anything you might have forgotten during your interview, and to reiterate your interest in the position. You should send a personalized e-mail to anyone who interviewed you within 24 hours of your interview.
What Are the Most Common Interview Mistakes?
One easy way to start off on the wrong foot? Being late. So DON’T do it!
Always aim for an early arrival (see Tip #2 above) so you can be sure to find parking, allow time for traffic, and even have a few minutes left over to review your notes or think of questions.
Being late, no matter your excuse, sends the message to employers that you’re unreliable, flaky, and probably won’t take the job very seriously. Do everything you can to arrive on time!
Failing to Research
You don’t have to spend hours becoming a certified expert on the company’s history, but walking into the interview without a clue about their work, major headlines involving their name, or the role you’re vying for certainly won’t score you any points.
Do enough research that you’ll be able to ask a few informed questions (always a good move anyway!) and won’t have to ask any duh questions.
Clichés are unattractive in speech and writing, but they’re especially useless when it comes to job interviews. Instead of using phrases you’ve probably heard before (like “I’m a team player” or “My biggest weakness is that I’m a perfectionist”), think of your own original answers.
This way, you’ll be more authentic, make yourself stand out, and won’t bore the interviewer into a coma.
How Do You Introduce Yourself in an Interview?
When introducing yourself always do the following:
- Make eye contact
- Extend your hand for a friendly, firm handshake
- Offer your name
- Get (and remember) the interviewer’s name
Eye contact is essential when meeting your interview (and throughout the interview!). And though you might be nervous, always remember the interviewer’s name and use it to thank them at the end.
What Are the Most Common Job Interview Questions?
Another great way to prepare for a job interview is familiarizing yourself with the most common job interview questions. Be sure to review our list so you can brainstorm responses and ace your interview!
Ace Your Next Job Interview
Taking time to thoroughly prepare for your next job interview can help calm your nerves and ensure that you make a fantastic impression.
And if you’re interested in a career in publishing, take a moment to check out our current job openings here at TCK!
Do you have any tips for acing a job interview? Share them with us in the comments below!
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