By Jeff Gillis
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EVERYONE who has a job interview coming up is anxious to get the real job interview tips that will put them over the top and allow them to be the best candidate in the eyes of the hiring manager.
I’m sure you are no different, right?
So where are you supposed to look? How do you get the best interview tips?
You can easily find the people who will tell you to “dress nicely” and suggest that you “tell them you’re a perfectionist“, but this is the 21st century, and the run-of-the-mill tips for interviews are not going to cut it anymore.
Enter life hacks.
They’re everywhere these days. Little tips and tricks meant to make everyday tasks easier.
From sanitizing a sink sponge (pop it in the microwave) to helping deodorize stinky sneakers (stuff a dry teabag in the toes whenever you take them off) life hacks have become all the rage.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were life hacks for job interviews?! An easy-to-read, easy-to-digest list of simple job interview tips and tricks to make walking into your next meeting easier?
Well, why not!
In fact, without further ado…allow us to present our best tips for job interviews…
Before the Interview – Interview Tips For Your Preparation
1) Use Google Alerts
The best way to guarantee that you are tailoring and targeting your interview information for a specific company is to make sure you’re keeping up on all their news and information.
Using a service like Google Alerts can save you precious time by doing the digging for you!
Signing up with Google Alerts is quick and easy and once you’re all done, you’ll start getting email alerts any time a news story appears for whatever specific terms you’ve set up.
With just a few clicks of your mouse and a little bit of information from you, news stories and current events related to the companies you select are automatically delivered to your email box.
This is one job interview tip that will keep you abreast of all of the important things that are affecting your industry and the company you are interviewing with.
2) Bring A Cheat Sheet With You
This interview tip is a bit controversial. Some people think that bringing in a “crib sheet” shows that you are not prepared for your interview.
The way we see it though, is that it’s okay to bring a cheat sheet with you to your interview, and even better to share it!
Everyone knows it’s a good idea to bring extra copies of your resume and business cards with you when you interview, but it’s also a great idea to bring a job history cheat sheet with you.
What’s a job history cheat sheet? Easy!
Before you go to your interview, prepare a write-up briefly detailing two accomplishments for each of your past few jobs.
Try to include one individual accomplishment and one team accomplishment.
It’s a fast and easy way to present a potential employer with a summary of your job highlights and successes that wouldn’t otherwise be on your resume and might not get covered in the interview.
3) Get Pumped Up!
The best way to get pumped up for an interview is to get pumped up (Arnold Schwarzenegger voice) before the interview!
It’s perfectly natural to have some anxiety about an interview and that can quickly translate into nervous energy.
Take the time before you interview to help expend that nervous energy by knocking out a quick 10-15 minute cardio session.
Not only will it help clear out some of those butterflies, but it’ll get your blood moving and help clarify your mind.
Just make sure you grab a shower after you work out…and before you go to your interview!
If you don’t have time to go to the gym but still need to burn some energy, a brisk walk around the block can work wonders as well!
4) Beat the Clock to Beat Your Nerves!
Nothing can make a stressful situation more stressful than anticipation and dread…
Having to wait all day for an interview is a quick and easy way to build up a major case of the butterflies.
Rather than spend the whole day worrying and building yourself into a frenzied ball of anxious nerves, try to schedule your interviews for early in the day.
Not only will you have more confidence, but you’ll appear fresher and more alert.
It’s also been proven that interviewers tend to remember the first few people they interview in a day much more clearly than those they subsequently interview later. Remember, it’s the early bird that gets the worm…or job!
5) Give Your Body the Right Fuel
Need a quick pick-me-up before your interview? Skip the coffee and reach for an apple and some gum instead!
Coffee might be great for chasing away early morning cobwebs but if you’re on your way to an interview, skip the Joe. Coffee is a diuretic, meaning it’ll suck the moisture right out of your mouth…leaving you dehydrated and parched.
A dry mouth can not only make talking difficult but can also lead to dreaded dragon breath…not a great way to make a first impression.
Instead, reach for an apple. It’s been scientifically proven that munching on an apple is just as effective at waking you up as a cup of coffee…without the nasty side effects.
Once you’re done with your snack, follow it up with a glass of water and a stick of gum. Chewing gum before an interview can help you focus and recall information you might have studied earlier. Added bonus: Minty fresh breath! Just make sure you get rid of it just before you start your interview.
6) Strike a Pose!
Give yourself an extra boost just before you interview by striking a pose.
It might sound silly, but striking a pose can actually boost your self-confidence before you enter into a stressful situation. Just before you go in to meet with your interviewer, take a few minutes in the bathroom or stairwell and strike a “power pose.”
You’ll want your feet to be shoulder width apart. Put your hands on your hips and keep your spine straight.
By doing this for just two minutes before your interview, you’re conditioning your body posture to take up more space and open you up physically, two characteristics of a confident person…and confident people get jobs!
7) Identify a Problem and Fix It
In many cases, a company will be hiring for a position in order to solve a problem or remedy an issue they have been facing. By studying the job description you can often tell if this is the case for the position you are interviewing for.
If this is the case, take this opportunity to prepare a one-page proposal that outlines how you would solve the problem that the company is facing… and be specific!
Even if they aren’t looking for you to solve the problem in the interview, they will be impressed that you took the initiative and more importantly, that as a hire, you will bring a lot of value to their organization.
During the Interview – Tips For Interviewing
8) Be Nice!
Be nice to EVERYONE!
Did you know your interview starts the minute you walk through the front door of the company you are interviewing with? How you treat everyone around you, from potential future co-workers to the receptionist at the front desk, can help determine if you get a job or not.
It’s a good idea to assume that as soon as you walk into the office, your job interview has started.
By being open, friendly and professional with everyone you encounter (not just your hiring manager) you’re helping to pave the way for positive feedback because as everyone knows, people talk…and if they’re going to talk about you, it’s always best to have it be about positive aspects of your visit!
9) Connect Before Diving In
The best way to start an interview is to not start the interview.
When you first meet whoever is interviewing you, get them to talk about anything except the interview.
Instead, use those first moments to build a rapport with your interviewer.
Remember, they’re potentially interviewing hundreds of people and the ones they’ll remember are the ones that stand out for the right reasons.
People want to work with people they connect with, and by taking just a moment to talk about something other than your potential job you’re helping show that you’re a nice, friendly and interesting person.
Your ultimate goal with an interview is to have a good conversation with your interviewer and an easy way to kick off that conversation is by starting with an easy small talk opener.
Example topics can include the weather, a recent sporting event, the office, or anything else you can think of that is quick to discuss.
Try to skip controversial topics and make sure that you don’t go overboard or ramble on for too long. It’s still an interview, after all!
10) Be a Copycat
Monkey See, Monkey Do! It’s okay to be a copycat…
It’s been psychologically proven time and time again that people respond better to individuals they feel they are in “sync” with and the best way to help drive that home is to subtly mirror your interviewer’s nonverbal gestures and body language.
Don’t go overboard and do everything they do, but if you keep your movements similar to theirs, it’ll build a sense of cohesion and understanding between you two.
Try to mimic their pitch, tone, body language, posture and body orientation.
And while you’re at it, DON’T FIDGET! Fidgeting can undermine your credibility and give an interviewer the impression that you’d rather be anywhere but in that room as well as make it appear you’re anxious or even lying.
Instead, focus your gaze on whoever is interviewing you and show them that you’re fully invested and paying attention to the interview.
11) Turn the Tables
Turn the tables and ask your own questions.
A good interview is more than just you sitting in a room rattling off prepared answers to questions. It’s also an opportunity for you to learn about the job, the company and your potential role within that world.
Make sure to have a few questions prepared before you interview and find the time during the interview to ask them.
Make sure they are thoughtful questions that help reinforce the idea that you’re the ideal candidate.
Here’s an example:
If you know that the company is big on “collaboration” as a Quality, you may want to ask a question like…
“In my previous jobs I’ve really thrived in an environment where I get to work with others and have found that using my abilities in a collaborative setting has really allowed me to add a lot of value to my team. Do you envision this role having a collaborative element and if so, do you think that this ability will help me succeed in this position?”
After the Interview
12) Follow Up! (Before You Leave the Interview)
Make sure you follow up before you even leave the interview.
At the end of your interview, make sure to reinforce the idea that you’re interested in the job. Wrap up with a phrase like “I’m really looking forward to an opportunity to be a part of such a dynamic company and I really hope you select me.”
Follow up that statement with a few questions about the next steps you should expect.
Not only are you gathering what could be valuable prep information, it’s showing them that you’re eager to continue on and do whatever it takes to get to the subsequent round.
If the interviewer is vague, it’s a great opportunity to ask them what they’re vague about and help clarify any questions they might have that weren’t answered in the interview.
Now is also the time to get a clear idea of the time table they have.
When will selected applicants be asked back for subsequent interviews or to meet other people? Do they have a specific date in mind that they’d like to have the position filled by?
Asking questions like these reinforce the idea that you’re enthusiastic about the job…and it lets you know what their schedule is so you’re not blindly waiting.
13) Send a Thank-You Note
Make an even better second impression by sending a thank you note to your interviewer.
This is essential.
For every interview you go on, expect to send a thank you note. Try to send it within the first 24 hours of your interview and no later than 48.
A handwritten card is the preferred way to say thank you and should be short, sweet, and personalized.
A good rule of thumb is to keep it to just three paragraphs. Your first paragraph should be a brief thank you for their time and a reiteration of your interest in the job. Your second paragraph should be used to discuss your strengths and how you would benefit the company if hired. Your third paragraph is your wind up.
Include answers to any questions you might have gotten in the interview that you weren’t able to answer, or wanted to expand on.
Make sure to sign it clearly (so they know who it’s from!)
For a more in-depth look at sending thank-you emails and notes, see our article.
14) Leave Them Alone
Make yourself desirable to an employer by leaving them alone!
The fastest way to lose a potential job is to become annoying or appear overeager or manic.
Once you’ve sent your thank you note, consider your contact with the company done for the time being.
If you’ve wrapped up your interview with the appropriate questions, you should have the company’s hiring time line in your knowledge bank and will know when they should be reaching back out to you.
Only contact the employer once that date has passed. If you contact the company prior to that date, you can come off as desperate, or worse, annoying.
15) Work Your Networking Magic
It’s easy to get inside if you already have someone on the inside helping you out!
Although we said don’t contact the company once your interview is over and your thank you card has been mailed off, but that doesn’t mean your networking should stop.
Now is the time to reach out to your connections and resources within the company.
If you have anyone in your network who might be able to positively influence the hiring process, ask them to put in a good word for you with the hiring manager.
16) Know When the Battle Is Lost
Accept defeat graciously.
You’re not going to get every job you apply for, and that means learning to accept defeat gracefully. If you aren’t hired, don’t take it personally and certainly don’t burn any bridges.
Keep your emotions in check and maintain your professionalism.
You never know what the future might hold and just because one job with a company doesn’t work out, doesn’t mean there might not be future opportunities there.
Make sure you accept the rejection with grace and wrap up any conversations on a hopeful and positive note.
It’s also a great idea to follow up a rejection with a thank-you note…yes…a second one!
Not only will this distinguish you from other rejected candidates but it will ensure that they see you in a positive note…and will hopefully keep you in mind for future possibilities.
Putting These Job Interview Tips to Work
So there you have it. 16 easy-to-do job interview tips and hacks.
So the next time you have an interview scheduled, grab this quick list and run through them from top to bottom.
Better yet, take some time and really go over each interview tip because each one will really help take your interview to the next level.
When added together, these tips will make sure you walk out of the interview room with a job offer in your back pocket.
And as always…