Whether this is your first interview or your 100th, the most stressful part of finding a new job tends to be the interview process. Make your next interview stress-free with these easy to follow steps.
Before the big day, be sure to learn as much as you can about the company and the position you are after. If you haven’t already, spend some quality time on the company's website. Go over the “About Us” page and any discussions regarding the position you are applying for. Check out the company’s Blog or News section to ensure you are up-to-date and getting a good sense of the company culture.
After exploring the website, research their social media. Most companies have a Twitter account, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and even Snapchat. If a post connects with you personally, consider bringing it up in the interview for some bonus points which will show them your interest in becoming a member of their team.
Identify What Is Important
Once you have done your research, establish what would make you essential to the company. Re-read the job posting, ignoring the generalizations (everyone wants a “hard worker”) and isolate the more specific, descriptive phrases. For example, are they looking for someone analytical? Write down your past experiences and skills based on the traits you isolated in bullet points; this will keep the important facts about you the top of mind during the interview.
Often the interviewer will ask a question about what you have done in the past. You need to be as prepared as possible to explain in detail your behavior or performance which would make you beneficial to the company. For example, if asked to describe a time you worked with a team on a project, be prepared to have a great example of what role you played on the team and the outcome of the project.
Create Your Image
On the day of the interview, you want to remain stress-free, so plan your interview attire in advance. Sixty-five percent of hiring managers say proper dress can be an important factor when deciding between one candidate and another. Your goal is to dress similar to the employees but with a slight step up in formality. Since you’ve done your research, you should have a good sense of the company's dress code. Be sure to pick an outfit you are comfortable and confident in. There is nothing worse than being distracted by a candidate fidgeting with their skirt or loose top.
Next, create a portfolio with your resume and a separate listing of references ready if requested during the interview. If you have personal business cards, you should take them along as well and leave them with anyone you meet at the company during the day. Take a notepad and pen to make any important notes and write down names you don’t want to forget.
Practice, practice, practice! Whether you're shy or outspoken, interviewing can always be a tad awkward, so be sure to practice your tone, posture and smile. A good place to start is in front of the mirror. Ask yourself several questions the interviewer may ask. This helps practice content, tone and timing. Once you’ve mastered the mirror, try it out with a friend, mentor or family member. Going over questions in real time will give you the chance to practice presenting the highlights of your resume and also help you get ready for those tougher questions.
While rehearsing, stay mindful you are actively listening and do not be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question. One reason to actively listen is to be sure you are fully and accurately answering the question. It’s better to take your time and provide an answer fitting what the interviewer asked than to rush into an answer as soon as the question is presented.
Prepare Follow-Up Questions
This is an important part of the interview. Asking follow up questions shows your interest in the company and a curiosity about the particular role. No one wants to hire a candidate who does not seem passionate about the position. Here are some smart questions to ask:
- What do you enjoy most about working for this company?
- How has the position I’m applying for evolved?
- What are the top priorities for this particular position?
- What are the challenges for the position?
- What have past employees done to be successful?
- Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
Make a Lasting Impression
Once the interview is complete, don’t leave without getting the interviewer’s business card or email. It is important to stay in touch with the company while they are in the decision-making process.
Send a thank you email after the interview. It tells the interviewer you are interested and excited about becoming a part of their company. Personalize the follow-up email by including something you remember from your conversation with them.
Proper preparation and planning are key to a successful interview. Next time you are getting ready for an interview, go over these steps, and you’ll be sure to ace it!
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, you may enjoy reading How a Date and a Job Interview Are Remarkably the Same. You can also visit Diane’s blog, connect with her here on HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.