How to succeed at Interviews is one of the first things I’m asked.
58 [yes, FIFTY EIGHT] Top Tips for Interviews
1. Fear of interviewing? Practice makes perfect. You’ll get better over time. And it is possible to practice for Interviews.
2. Interviews are a dialogue between two people. What you give is what you get. So be proactive. Ask questions and initiate discussion.
3. Confirm your interview time, date, and location one day in advance. Use this as a way to connect with your contact who could provide additional last-minute information.
4. NEVER be late for interviews.
5. If you are going to be late, call and reschedule instead. You’ll make a much better impression being on time.
6. Bring extra copies of your C.V. with you. Never assume the interviewer can find your C.V.
7. Arrive 15 minutes early and retire to the restroom. Check your appearance in the mirror. Hair in place? Make-up intact? Tights crisis? Women should pack an extra pair, just in case.
8. Introduce yourself to the secretary and be seated. (Secretaries are often hidden power bases, so engage them in conversation.)
9. Take off your coat and hang it up before the interview. In trainers? Change into good shoes before you enter the building.
10. Look busy. Take out reading material on the company or peruse company literature available in the reception area while you wait. Don’t fidget.
11. Some companies require all applicants to fill out an application, regardless of position. Fill it out completely, even if you have a C.V.
12. Stand up to greet the interviewer and extend your hand. Give a firm handshake, but don’t crush. And don’t pump you arm up and down.
13. Once in the interviewer’s office, wait to be seated. You don’t want to sit in the interviewer’s favourite chair.
14. Even if offered, don’t smoke, chew gum, eat, or drink coffee during the interview. And don’t eat garlic or drink alcohol before the interview.
15. Be observant. Are there pictures on the desk? Who’s in the pictures? Trophies, awards? For what? Art? What kind? Be aware for small talk later on.
16. In interviews, be careful not to dwell on your personal life. If asked, be brief but polite. Remember, the interview is about what you can do on the job, not at home.
17. Don’t name-drop, especially with a recruiter. If you know someone important, say so. But make sure there really is a connection. Recruiters have heard it all.
18. Never argue. If the interviewer says something you disagree with, let it go. This isn’t a debate. It’s an interview.
19. Answer only the questions asked. Be direct. Don’t ramble. And never volunteer information.
20. Be brief. The more you try to embellish your answers, the more likely you are to say something that disqualifies you.
21. The earlier it is in the interview, the shorter your answers need to be. The interviewer has limited time and a list of questions to ask you.
22. Never take anyone with you to interviews. Go alone.
23. Don’t assume the interviewer is knowledgeable about your industry, field, or speciality. Don’t use jargon, company lingo, industry buzz words.
24. Be a good listener. Listen actively by nodding your head in agreement acknowledgement. Lean forward to let the interviewer know you’re interested.
25. Maintain good eye contact. Eyes averted spell lack of self-confidence, nervousness, insecurity.
26. Watch your body language. Don’t fidget, cross your arms, slouch. Remember, everything you say and do broadcasts who you are.
27. Be enthusiastic, upbeat. Show your excitement for the job and company. Bring out your evidence file and share your company research with the interviewer.
28. Never ask about salary or benefits in the first interview. Save those issues for the negotiation session. You want the company to fall in love with you first.
29. Whoever mentions money first loses. If asked your salary requirements, respond with ‘What is the range for this position?’ If pressed, give a broad range, but never a specific amount.
30. Interviews are a dialogue between two people. Don’t let the interviewer ramble or get side-tracked. Put your two cents in.
31. Control the interview by asking questions. People feel compelled to answer.
32. Be able to explain in two to three sentences what your job duties were. Keep it simple and basic.
33. Be able to explain in two to three sentences why you’re looking for a job. Laid off? Downsized? Resigned? Why?
34. Never assume the interviewer knows what’s been going on at your company. Explain why you left, but be brief.
35. Interview rule number 1: Never say anything negative about your company, your boss, your job, your colleagues, yourself.
36. Research pays off. Not knowing anything about the company interviewing you will hurt your chances of being hired.
37. Personality and intelligence can compensate for lack of specific job experience. Radiate self-confidence, enthusiasm, congeniality.
38. An interview is a sales pitch. Be prepared to sell your features and benefits. Why should they hire you? Make yourself irresistible.
39. Never show confidential documents or memos from your previous employer(s). No one wants to hire someone who steals company property.
40. Stumped for an answer to a tough question? Take time to collect your thoughts before you speak. Guard against babbling.
41. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know.’ Then add, ‘Would you rephrase the question?’ Honesty wins points.
42. An interviewer cares about three things: Can you do the job (experience, education)? Will you do the job (hours, money, location)? and Will you fit in the company (personality)?
43. Remember people’s names. Use last names unless the interviewer indicates you by your first name.
44. Past performance is the best indication of future performance. If you performed miracles for your last employer, you can do it again. So capitalise on your successes.
45. Don’t interrupt. Some interviewers talk more than they listen. That’s OK. Be a good listener.
46. Ask for business cards of everyone you talk to in the interview process. This is critical for following-up thank-you letters, future networking calls, general job search record keeping.
47. Interviewing rule of thumb: It takes 10 to 15 networking contacts to generate one interview and 5 to 10 interviews to generate one offer.
48. Rejection is tough, but don’t take it personally. Detach. It’s just business. After each rejection, evaluate why. Then figure out what you can do in the future to avoid the same thing happening again.
49. Never leave an interview without thanking the interviewer and going for the trial close. Ask, ‘What’s the next step? Where do we go from here?’
50. Anyone’s worst nightmare – a group interview. Relax. Don’t panic. Direct your answers to the person asking the most questions but maintain eye contact with everyone.
51. A lunch interview? Order something easy to eat. Always graciously decline alcoholic beverages, even if the interviewer indulges. And mind your manners.
52. If the interviewer keeps you waiting for more than 30 minutes, reschedule. you’ll both feel better meeting under different circumstances.
53. Fear of shrinking? Don’t make an issue out of taking psychological tests. They’re no big deal, and many companies use them, both pre- and post-employment.
54. Don’t be intimidated by interviewers, especially personnel types. They want you to be the right candidate. It makes their job easier.
55. Assess how you did after the interview. Did you babble, evade questions, fidget, reveal too much? Learn from your mistakes, but don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re learning how to interview.
56. Write thank-you notes immediately. Be brief, but gracious. This is a courtesy note only. Resist going in for the kill with a final sales pitch.
57. Don’t use ‘Thank-you’ stationery or stationery with business letterheads. And never send humorous cards.
58. The next time you make a job move for money, take this test: divide the difference between you old salary and your new salary by 12; take about 35 to 40 percent off for taxes and deductions. That’s how much more you’re going to take home each month. Then ask: is making the move worth it?
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