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How To Interview Well

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If the time has come for that first interview, congratulations. Now you need to know how to interview well so you don’t let a great opportunity pass you by. The good news is, the key to putting your best foot forward in an interview is not that difficult. Here are the things you need to keep top of mind.

Dress For Interview Success

The old saying is true, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. You could be the best candidate around, but if you are sloppily dressed you may be ruled out within a few seconds. Here are some great tips on how to dress appropriately for an interview.

You always want to error on the side of being overdressed for a job interview. Being underdressed can be disastrous. When in doubt, you should wear at least a shirt and tie for guys and a professional dress or suit for ladies. If you find that business casual was all that was required, most interviewers will be impressed by the fact that you took the interview serious enough to get dressed up. On the other hand, if a suit was expected and you show up in khaki pants, your odds of getting that job are virtually non-existent. You can’t afford to blow the first impression.

If the company or interviewer tells you specifically that you can dress casual for the interview, then it would be okay to come business casual. Below is a good guide from Tarleton.

How To interview well - Attire

 

Be Prepared For Your Interview

Preparation is absolutely vital in the discussion of how to interview well. What do we mean by being prepared? You should absolutely never just “wing it.” You should do some light research on the company and know what they do in a general way, and how your position fits in the company to some degree. These are both important so you can ask intelligent questions throughout the process.

Asking intelligent questions is the next step in how to interview well. Here is our full guide on the 10 best questions to ask in the interview process. Your questions should be focused on the company and what your role will be, and a good interview question should require a longer answer than “yes” or “no.” Whether you are interviewing for a seasonal position or a more career level job, you should expect that the interviewer will at some point ask if you have any questions. You should NEVER say “no” and not ask questions of them. Asking questions in return is expected and is a reflection on you and how well you prepared.

You should also take a folder or professional looking notebook that has some paper to take notes, a pen, and 3 copies of your resume. Again, you may or may not be end up needing these, but it is better safe than sorry.

Listen Well

Another great way to find out what to ask is to simply listen to what the interviewer says. If you are “present” and paying attention, they’ll almost always say something that makes you curious to hear more. For instance, “You mentioned before that this is a fun place to work, what are some things that make it that way?” First of all, this is something you’ll probably want to know and by referencing something they said earlier they’ll know that you are listening and paying attention. While it sounds basic, listening attentively is essentially in the recipe for how to interview well.

Under the category of being prepared and listening, we should also mention to turn your phone off or leave it in the car. This isn’t on vibrate – it means turn it off. Your phone vibrating in your pocket or purse still makes noise and can be distracting to you and the interviewer. You need to have your full attention focused on the interview and can’t afford distractions. The Fiscal Times said “One hiring manager in Manhattan says she sees this often – and she’s always amazed when she does. “The job candidates will say, ‘Oh, gee, I’m sorry,’ and reach to turn their phones off. But why didn’t they think of that before they walked in the door? To me, it shows a lack of preparation. It’s also inconsiderate.”

Have A Story To Tell

Interviewers and companies always want to hire people that work well as part of a team and work well with others. They want to like you. To that end, you should expect to hear questions that as you to tell a story about when you went above and beyond for the team. On the opposite side they may ask about a time you had a conflict with a teammate and how you resolved it.

Even simpler, many interviews start with a wide open question such as “Tell me about yourself” or “Why are you here.” To these you need to be ready to tell your story. Have a concise answer that doesn’t sound rehearsed, but tells your story about honors in school, community involvement, reliability, etc. which are all qualities the employer is looking for. Don’t be dishonest, but it is much easier to think of examples in your own life if you’ve prepared ahead of time. If you walk into the interview blindly, you may skip right over some critical piece of information until it is too late.

Be Yourself

While you want to show your best self, you still need to be yourself in order to interview well. Most interviewers that have some experience will be able to spot fake, phony responses. While it is a good idea to prepare for potential interview questions  you shouldn’t ever sound rehearsed or like you’ve memorized the answers. At the end of the day, people want to get to know the real you. Maybe you aren’t a fit for the job or the company, or maybe you go through the interview and decide that the company isn’t for you. Either way it is better to have a genuine experience so you can feel good about the result.

Final Thought On How To Interview Well

If you make a good first impression, come prepared, and be yourself during the process you will maximize your potential to ace the interview. As you are leaving, don’t forget to ask about what the next steps will be. The ultimately answer on how well you did is if the employer calls back. If not, there are always other jobs so keep your head up and try again. If they do call, great! Hopefully the job will be a great fit for you.

Feel free to comment any other tips in below.

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