So you’ve sent out your resume and cover letter. Finally… the phone rings and you’ve got an interview scheduled. Congratulations! You are that much closer to landing a job. Before you go, we are going to show you how to ace an interview in 4 easy steps.
1. Dress The Part
Similar to Justin Timberlake and his Suit and Tie you too should be dressed for success when you show up to a job interview. Although it sounds trite, you only get one chance to make a first impression. In our interview with recruiting manager Jennifer Byrd, she advised “Dress appropriately- don’t overdress or undress. Look at how the employees dress who are already employed and this should help you decide on what to wear. When in doubt, khakis and a nice shirt will work.”
You should ultimately use your best judgment based on the type of job you are applying for. If it is an office, or professional environment you should at least wear a shirt and tie if not a suit. If you are interviewing to be a waiter or busboy, wearing khakis as Jennifer suggested would work. When in doubt, it is always best to error on the side of being overdressed. To wear a suit when you could’ve worn khakis is much better than wearing khakis when you were expected to wear a suit. If anything, most interviewers will be impressed that you cared enough to get dressed up for the occasion. Again, this is about the first impression.
Another thing to be conscious of is your style. Besides just being over or under dressed, you want to make sure that your style fits the situation. This can work both ways. If you are into the latest fashions, perhaps some hip things that the rest of us aren’t aware of yet, save those for after you have the job. For the interview, aim for a level of conformity. You want to look nice and “with it” but don’t try to be too cutting edge. In the same way, if you are an older applicant who may be a little dated in your style, you may need to buy a new shirt and tie that fits in today’s business world. If you are wearing the same outfit you did for a job interview in 1994, you’ve got a problem.
2. Know About The Company
This is much easier today than it was in the 80’s or 90’s. Knowing about the company is usually as simple as putting the company name into Google and then navigating to the “about” page on the company website. This will often tell you the history of the company and about the services they provide.
Beyond the company itself, you should know something about the position you are interviewing for. Hopefully you do already, but at least have a good enough idea about the job description to ask intelligent questions. The same goes for researching the company – you don’t have to be well versed in their history, just know enough to ask smart questions. On that note…
3. Ask Smart Questions
One of the often overlooked keys for how to ace an interview is to ask intelligent questions. These aren’t questions like “So how much time do I get off?” These are questions like “What do you think is the biggest challenge I’ll face in being successful at this job?” Notice the difference?
You should remember that an interview is mutual. This means they are interviewing you, but you are interviewing them as a potential employer as well. Your questions should try to find out more about the company mission and culture. Here are some good questions to ask at the interview. Generally they should be open ended, not things that can be answered in just a word or too.
Most of the time you will be asked if you have any questions, and no matter what, you should never say “no.” Think about your questions in advance and have a couple written down with your pen and paper (that you should also bring). Questions are expected, and not asking any is a big mistake. The odds are, over the course of the interview there will be things that are said which prompt new questions in your mind – perfect. Be in tune to what is being said and actively listen!
4. Be Present For The Interview
By being present for the interview, this doesn’t mean simply showing up. Although we’ll admit, showing up is important. Heck, go ahead and show up 15 minutes early to be safe. No, when we talk about being present as a step in how to ace a job interview, we are talking about being mentally present.
The first thing is to turn your phone off and/or leave it in the car. You aren’t going to be fielding any calls during the interview, so why do you need it? Even if it is on vibrate, if that takes your attention away for only a few seconds then you may miss something important. Any other items or devices that may distract you should being fully engaged in the job interview.
Another part of how to ace an interview is to mimic the interviewers mannerisms. Don’t get ridiculous with it, but if they are leaned back in a relaxed position, you should relax as well. If they are sitting upright with their elbows on the table, guess what? You should do something similar. Again, don’t mimic every motion they make, but take your cues from how the interviewer behaves.
Taking these two steps will really help you be mentally engaged in the job interview. This is so critical, it could have been listed as step 1. It definitely plays a key part in step 3, which is asking good questions. If the employer has taken enough time to interview you, the least you can do is be fully focused during that window of time.
How to ace an interview – final thought
Really the question of how to ace an interview can really be broken down into one word – preparation. Dressing well and having questions and focused attention at the ready are all a part of being prepared. Preparation also breeds confidence. When you are confident, others can sense that. Focus on these basics and give it your best!