Monday, July 7, 2014

10 Tips to Ace Your Job Interview

When I am not blogging, I spend my days as a Recruiter for a large organization, and because of that, I've sat through countless interviews. I am not an expert at interviews, but I have quickly learned that interviewing is a skill. It is something that doesn't come natural to most, myself included, but there are a few things that great interviewers do to help them stand out above the rest. I thought I'd share them here today in case anyone is job searching or getting ready for a big interview.

[1] Arrive promptly.

Nothing makes a worse impression than being late to an interview. Allow for weather, traffic, or hard to follow directions and leave extra early-but keep in mind arriving at the office building at 3:30 for a 4:00 interview is good, presenting yourself to the receptionist at that time is not. It can be really awkward for the interviewer when a candidate is super early, so what I always do when I am the one being interviewed is sit in my car and review my notes or read my kindle until about 10-15 minutes before the interview time.

[2] Dress professionally

First impression is everything. Even if the office is a casual office, still dress in neat, clean professional attire.It shows professionalism and respect and leaves a good impression in the interviewer's mind.

 For us ladies, a pencil skirt or nice slacks with a blouse is always a safe bet, and sometimes I even throw on a suit jacket depending on the level of position I am applying for.

[3] Bring a few copies of your resume, a notebook, and a pen.

Although the recruiter or hiring manager most likely has a copy of your resume they may not have it with them, and the panel members may not have had a chance to review it. Often times, I am on the go between meetings and other interviews there are times that I leave candidates resume in my office and don't have it on hand, and when a candidate has copies, it shows you are prepared.

Be sure to use your pen and notebook to jot down any important details about the job, and note any follow up items the interview panelists request so you don't forget after the interview. When I am interviewing for a job, I also always jot down the names of the people on my interview panel so I can send a thank you message.

[4] Never bad mouth your previous employer.

You may have had a miserable boss straight from the Devil Wears Prada, but the hiring manager doesn’t need to know that. Badmouthing a previous employer or supervisors is unprofessional and may be taken the wrong way. If you are asked why you are leaving, even if you have valid reasons for wanting to leave, try and talk about what you learned from the challenges instead of talking negatively about your previous job/boss.

[5] Be kind and courteous to everyone you meet.

Besides from just assessing your skills and experience, the interview panel will also be assessing whether you will be someone they want to work with. They are looking at your personality and assessing whether it will fit in with their group so be sure to be friendly and respectful to anyone in the hall, the receptionist, etc. You never know who your next coworker may be!

[6] Do your homework and research the company.

Two words:Google search.

Research and learn anything you can about the company. I can't tell you how many times as a candidate I've been asked "What do you know about this company?" And as an interviewer, it always is really uncomfortable when the candidate asks what job they're interviewing for again or what the company does. I always look at the social media of a company as well to see what they're up to and try and bring that up in the interview.

[7] Listen to and answer the interview questions.

This happens more often than you'd expect, but many applicants don't listen to the question fully and in turn, don't really answer it. For example: If you’re asked to provide an example of a time you provided excellent customer service, do not give a five minute overview of what you believe customer service is. Instead, provide a specific notable experience that showcases your customer service skills.

TIP: Many interviews now days are behavior based interviews and what this means is most interviewers are looking for a situation, your specific action, and the outcome. Make sure to include all three parts and you will be leaps ahead of a lot of candidates.

[8] Have a few prepared questions of your own to ask.

Asking questions serves two purposes. First, it shows that you’re interested and passionate about the work you’d be doing there. Second, it gives you an opportunity to make sure the job is a good fit for you as well. As an applicant, it does both you and the employer good when you are intentional about finding out if the job and organization will be a good fit for you.

Tip: I would recommend not asking about salary or benefits during this time-it is usually best to ask about this if and when an offer is made.

[9] Send a prompt thank you note.

Send either a hand written or e-mail note thanking the interviewer for their time. It shows you are interested in the position and it always makes a good impression. In today's digital age, as a recruiter I think an e-mail is perfectly acceptable. A good rule of thumb is if most of your conversation with the recruiter/hiring manager has been via e-mail, than an e-mail thank you note is appropriate.

[10] Follow up appropriately.

Following up is critical, but there is a very fine line between professional follow up and pestering the hiring manager or recruiter.

After initial thank you note: if the company has given you a set time frame and exceeded it by a week, a tasteful follow up note is reasonable.

RULE OF THUMB: Follow up once, and if you receive no response, follow up once more. If you still don’t hear anything, move on.

What do you guys think? I know these just barely scratch the surface of interviewing well, but if you follow these ten tips, you will definitely leave a great impression and most likely outshine many of the candidates. As basic as these might seem, I see a lot of candidates who are lacking in these areas.

Do you have any tips or tricks to easing nerves and doing well in an interview? 


  1. These are great tips... it surprises me when so many people have no idea how to interview for a job.... this is where I excel... I'm the silly one who loves interviews ♡

  2. Awesome tips! I haven't heard of the "thank you note" one before, but that is a great idea!!

  3. Goodness, I'm from the South and am the queen of thank you notes, but never thought to send one after an interview. How brilliant! These are some fabulous tips...will definitely be passing this along to some girls I know :)

  4. These tips are great! You really gave me some perspective in an interview I have coming up. Thank you!

  5. Thank you for these! I will be needing them in the future! Hope your 4th was great!

  6. These are such great tips! I am interviewing right now for jobs and it never hurts to brush up on all of this! Thanks!

  7. Good luck on running in the morning. I wish I had the motivation to get up early. To me it is a sin to get up before my alarm goes off. Good luck on your running endeavors!