You’ve done everything right. You targeted your job search, you tailored your resume to the positions you applied for, you did the networking, you proofread your cover letter, and you made sure that your voicemail message (and your email address) were not weird. You’ve done everything right, and it has paid off.
You’ve got an interview.
Congratulations. However, you’re not done yet. Here are some tips on how to get through this unscathed.
You don’t need to bust out your formal wear, but you really ought to clean up. By know you should know a bit about the industry you hope to join, and the company for whom you’re interviewing. If it’s a bank, dress professionally. If it’s an IT company, you probably don’t need to wear a suit, but you should still dress up. Men should wear ties. Women should wear dress shirts or sweaters. When I was fourteen and I had my interview for McDonald’s in the lobby of McDonald’s, I wore a collared shirt. It rarely hurts to be the best dressed person in the room, so err on the side of professionalism.
This is a cultural thing, so for many readers, this might be tricky. In North America, we put a lot of stock in the handshake. It should be firm, but it’s not a contest. You’re not trying to crush someone’s hand, and you’re not trying to yank them off their feet, you’re clasping hands in a gesture of goodwill. There’s a whole history here that most people don’t know, but it’s one of the few bits of chivalry that remains in Western Culture.
Make sure you know who you’re interviewing for. This needn’t be about the people in the room, but about the organization. Know their industry. Visit their website. Read the “About” section. You’ve already done this, though, if you’re following the standard advice, so a quick reminder should be enough.
We say a lot without saying anything. So try to be mindful of your body language. Interviewers will expect you to be nervous, so a small amount of fidgeting is forgivable. But try to keep this to a minimum. No nail biting, for instance. Don’t squirm. Look people in the eye when you talk to them. Sit comfortably.
If someone asks you something, and you don’t understand, ask them to clarify or rephrase.
So many times we’re trying so hard to impress that we just say all the things that we think they want to hear. Pay attention. If someone asks about a gap in your employment history, they don’t want to hear about your ambitions (yet). If someone asks why you’re interested in the position, don’t list your experience. A question is designed to get specific info. Give them that.
Not just of the other people in the room, but previous employers. It really is hard to get fired, but openly criticizing the people who fired you is unlikely to win you any allies in an interview. Save that for family and friends.
As always, good luck. If you want more support, WIL offers mock interviews to our clients. We can help you with that and with any other aspect of your job search. Just get in touch.