The rules of job-hunting sound pretty simple, don’t they? Make sure your resume is free of typos and fluff, showcase your achievements and credentials in an elegant cover letter, and wait for the interview requests to come rolling in. If you are well-qualified for the job, you may feel pretty confident until the phone starts ringing. You look great on paper–but how will you impress the human being who decides whether you’re the right candidate to hire? Here are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare for successful interviews:
1) Relax. No one gives a great first impression when they’re stressed out. Go to bed early the night before, and listen to soft music or a guided meditation if insomnia strikes. Steer clear of junk food that may give you noisy indigestion or leave you dizzy or irritable from hunger. Stick with interview clothing that makes you feel confident and comfortable–now is not the time for major changes. Get out for a brisk morning walk or gym workout to help maintain a positive mood and alertness.
2) Practice. How do the stars make it look so easy? They practice! You can do the same with interviews. Get a friend to help you, and role-play the interview process. Practice a handshake, body language and tone of voice that project relaxed confidence. Practice authentic answers to difficult questions. Practice active listening skills like eye contact, leaning slightly toward the speaker and leaving a pause before you respond. These preparation tactics will help you focus on the conversation, rather than your own anxiety.
3) Do your homework. Job interviews aren’t just a way for your future employer to learn about you. They’re also a chance for you to show that you know and care about the company, industry and role that you’re interviewing for. Do a little Googling during the week prior to your interview. How large is the company? Are they publicly or privately owned? What awards have they won? What market challenges have they faced? What innovations do they pride themselves on? Bring up whatever impresses you about the company, or any challenges that seem relevant to the role you hope to fill. Your willingness to invest time in pre-interview research may be what gets you the job.
Interviews are the hardest part of finding a new job, but these strategies will make them go more smoothly. Good luck!