How to Ace the Interview to Land the Job You Want

Over the years, I have interviewed hundreds of candidates for various positions. Some of the things people have done in these interviews have been disrespectful and outright shocking. I hope that by sharing my thoughts with you about how to have a successful interview, you will be able to walk into a job interview with confidence and make all the right moves.

Keys to a Successful Interview

Don’t wear flip flops: It is never okay under any circumstances to wear flip flops to a job interview. Be in the practice of dressing at least one level above what the job you are interviewing for requires.  This means if you are interviewing in an office that requires business casual, you should wear a suit.  If you are interviewing for a contracting job that requires jeans and a t-shirt, you should wear dress pants and a dress shirt with a tie.  Other tips are to avoid wearing too much jewelry, makeup, and fragrance. Cover up those tattoos and make sure your midriff is not exposed. If you are a smoker, try to hold off on the way to your interview in case you are in a small office with your interviewer.
Don’t forget to bring a copy of your resume: It always amazes me how many people do not bring a professional portfolio or even a copy of their resume with them to a job interview. This is your much needed confidence booster during a job interview. What better way to answer questions about your previous work experience than referring to your portfolio or resume which is right in front of you? Say goodbye to those blank stares when you can’t remember what to say because you can’t forget if the answer to your question is right in front of you.
Practice does not make perfect: But it sure helps! When you are interviewing for a job, it is obvious if you are not prepared. If you don’t feel confident, you will be less likely to make eye contact throughout your interview. You should always do a bit of research on the company that you are interviewing with beforehand. Even if you just go to the company website and get the basics, this will show your interviewer you have done your research and also help you feel confident. You need to practice interviewing. It doesn’t matter if it is with your spouse, your friend, or with yourself in a mirror - practicing will help you improve your interviewing skills. Another helpful tip I have found is that it becomes very easy to be the interviewee once you have had an opportunity to be the interviewer. Take turns and practice asking questions as well and see what your partner comes up with for answers. Their answers might give you helpful ideas.
Don’t ask about the pay or benefits: I think that people commonly forget that when they are on a job interview their sole purpose should be on selling themselves to that company or organization. I always give this advice to others when job searching, sell yourself first and then when the company wants you they have to sell themselves to you. There is nothing worse than being asked questions about salary or benefits by someone who just sat down for their first interview with your company. There are sometimes circumstances where this gets brought up and it is okay, but my general consensus is don’t bring it up on the first interview unless they do. Instead, choose questions that show what you know about the company or your passion for the industry.
Mind your manners: Being polite, mature and professional still do go a long way. Make sure to arrive on time and leave your cell phone in your car or make sure your ringer is set to silent. Do your best to avoid fidgeting during your interview. Nerves can cause us to do things like use over pronounced hand gestures, twirl in our chair, bite our fingernails, or tap our fingers repeatedly on the table in front of us. Try to be aware of your nervous habits, because the more aware you are of them, the more you will be able to control them during a job interview. Also, it is important that you give your interviewer a chance to talk; don’t feel like you need to do all the talking. Make sure that you give your interviewer the opportunity to ask you all the questions that they want to ask you.
Be prepared for the unexpected: Some people like to ask weird questions just to see how well you respond on the fly. My personal favorite to ask people is what is their favorite dance move and why? I have heard others from what is your favorite cereal to what kitchen appliance would you be and why? These questions are meant to see how you react and are often a bit silly. Just be honest when answering and if you feel comfortable enough this is usually a good place to show off your sense of humor.
Lastly, send a follow up email or a thank you note after your interview. (Hint: Traditional “snail mail” thank you notes are the most memorable and in my experience less than five percent of people do this.) If the company told you when they would make a hiring decision or when they would follow up by and you haven’t heard from them, then it is okay to follow up with them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you did not get selected.  This is some of the best feedback you can get to find out what you are doing wrong so that next time you can get it right.
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Feel free to share your own personal tips for job interviewing success in the comments below.