Interviews are my favourite part of the job search process.
Last week, I attended my fourth interview in two weeks. I walked away with a good feeling—I had a strong impression I would be offered the position, and I was right.
How did I know? For most interviews, you will know whether or not you’re getting the job. If your potential employer is enthusiastic, smiling or at least sounds pleasantly surprised, they are probably interested in you. If they don’t hire you, I bet you’ll learn they hope to keep your application on file and may contact you later if something becomes available.
If you don’t receive any of these signs—nothing friendlier than a polite smile—you probably aren’t standing out enough from the crowd. So how do you make a good impression and ace the interview? You have to be right for the job and you have to be yourself.
Think of the interview as a conversation, not an interrogation
I think of interviews as social conversations, so I get excited about them. When I arrive for the interview, I greet the administrative assistant in a friendly manner and I look forward to meeting the interviewer.
Bring an extra copy of your resumé
You’ve probably heard this before, but if the interviewer doesn’t have your resumé on hand, you will look prepared when you can provide it! Plus, you don’t want your interviewer to be missing this important tool.
Know the company
You probably researched the company when you wrote your cover letter, but it’s a good idea to review their website before you arrive for the interview. You want to show you care about this company and that you care about this job, which will be evident from your knowlege of the company.
Bring a portfolio (if the job requires it)
A portfolio is a scrapbook of your work; it gives an idea of your style and shows you’re serious. Two out of three times that I brought my portfolio to an interview in the past month, my interviewer told me she was impressed and that my portfolio was “ambitious.” All three times, I got the job. It pays off!
Account for the time required to find the place. Being early allows you to acquaint yourself with the environment and shows that you’re reliable. You’d be surprised how many employers complain about young interview candidates showing up 10, 15 or even 45 minutes late!
Every interview is different, but you can be prepared to answer basic questions. Most interviewers will ask you to elaborate on your resumé, your previous work, why you’re interested in this field, and why you chose this company. You can also prepare answers to more difficult questions, such as, “List challenges you overcame at past jobs” or “What would you do if a conflict arose between you and a colleague?” These are the types of questions that often stun interviewees.
It sounds simple and it is. Stick to the truth. I’ve always found that being myself gets me the job, and the job that I want. If you find yourself pretending to be someone you’re not in order to fit with the work environment, it’s not a job you’d want anyway.
I hope you’ll look at interviews as opportunities rather than something to be afraid of. Meeting new people can be fun!