No matter how polished your resume is or how much experience you have under your belt, interview preparation is essential if you want to impress a potential employer. Honing your interview skills can take a good deal of practice and dedication. However, there are a few things you can do to take your skills to the next level today so you can excel during your next interview. Follow these eight steps to immediately improve your interview skills and increase your chances of landing the job of your dreams.
1. Don't Go in Unprepared
Don't be caught by surprise. Take time to practice your answers to common interview questions, and come up with your own thoughtful questions for the interviewer. Before each interview, list the points you want to cover. These can be general skills, such as your leadership ability or creativity, or your more specific skills and work experience. You should also memorize your strengths and weaknesses as well as your professional ambitions. Consider doing a mock interview with a friend, or rehearse your delivery in front of the mirror.
2. Learn to Dress for the Occasion
When choosing interview outfits, err on the conservative side, and avoid wearing too many accessories or jewelry pieces. Let the company culture and your intended position guide the formality of your outfit. If you're unsure, contact the company to ensure you follow its dress code.
3. Be Punctual
Arriving late for an interview creates a very bad first impression, so take any steps necessary to ensure you arrive on time. Creative Circle recruiter Lauren Ferarra explains that interviewees should always be in the building and ready for the interview 15 minutes early. Doing this gives you some extra time to calm your nerves and switch your focus to the interview.
4. Learn the Value of Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication is another way to demonstrate your confidence and energy to a potential employer. Start with a firm handshake, and make eye contact throughout the interview while maintaining good posture. No matter how nervous you are, don't forget to smile. Interviewees should also avoid nonverbal behaviors that leave a bad impression, such as looking at their watches or chewing gum.
5. Do Your Research
A strong understanding of the company and job position can help you feel more at ease during an interview while also giving you the opportunity to start more in-depth discussions. Visit the organization's website, starting with the About page, to learn about the company's values, mission, products and services. This process also helps you get a feel about whether or not the company would be a good fit for you.
6. Control Your Confidence
Being professional and confident is important, but showing off or being overconfident may make you appear cocky. Maintain a positive, enthusiastic attitude to communicate a balanced level of confidence and convey likability.
7. Practice Active Listening
During an interview, it's easy to get so caught up in your answers that you don't actually listen to what the interviewer is telling or asking you. Respond to your interviewer to communicate that you heard what was said, and bring up ideas that the interviewer mentioned earlier in the interview. This shows that you're interested and paying attention. This can also help you make a positive impression if you progress to another interview, as you can further discuss what the interviewer brought up previously.
8. Polish Your Follow-Up Practices
Showing your appreciation goes a long way in connecting with the hiring manager. After an interview, get the interviewer's card or contact information so you can send a follow-up card or email expressing your gratitude and communicating that you're still interested in the position.
These steps can help you make a good impression on a potential employer, but they can also help you feel more comfortable and confident for a smoother interview process. Remember that if you approach an interview expecting to succeed, you're more likely to do just that.
Photo Courtesy of Enri Endrian at Flickr.com