A job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience – trying to say and do the right things and to look as good as your resume to impress a prospective employer can be tricky. But being prepared and confident can ease your fears and help you land the perfect job.
Dan Thielsen, manager of the Career Planning Center in Aberdeen, S.D., suggests the following tips for acing your next job interview:
• Start by finding some background information about the company and the job, once the interview is scheduled. That can help you know what to expect and make your interest obvious to the employer.
• At the interview, the most important aspect is the first impression.
“If you give a bad first impression, you’ll never get over it,” Thielsen said.
Don’t bring friends or children to the interview. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to make sure you’re in the right place and to make last-minute adjustments to your appearance if needed.
• Dress as you expect your interviewer to be dressed. Don’t wear too much jewelry – it can be distracting. For men, facial hair should be neatly trimmed.
• Don’t chew gum, smoke or use slang.
• A positive, friendly attitude will help you present yourself in a favorable light. A smile, eye contact and a firm handshake are important non-verbal communicators.
“Only 7 percent of what we say is actually words,” said Thielsen. “Fifty-five percent is nonverbal body language, and 38 percent is in the tone of your voice.”
• When meeting the interviewer, make sure to give him or her enough personal space.
“Keep yourself at an arm-length distance – don’t get too close,” Thielsen said.
• Make sure to get the correct pronunciation and spelling of the interviewer’s name. Not only is it common courtesy, it will also be useful when writing a thank-you note after the interview.
• It never hurts to establish rapport with the interviewer. Scan the room you’re being interviewed in – the Vikings coffee mug or pictures of pets can give you fodder for small talk.
• During the interview, if you don’t understand a question, ask the interviewer to restate it. Take a few seconds to think through what you are going to say. Answer each question completely, yet briefly; most answers should take no more than 30 to 40 seconds.
• Don’t be afraid to sell yourself. Be honest and optimistic, and show a willingness to learn and grow within the position for which you’ve applied.
• Posture is also important to your confidence – sit up straight and be aware of nervous mannerisms, such as cracking your knuckles. Women wearing skirts or dresses should cross their legs at the ankles instead of at the knees.
• Asking questions of the interviewer is a necessity to help you decide if you will accept the position, should it be offered to you. Benefits, retirement and work schedule are appropriate topics to cover. Asking about money usually isn’t a good idea.
“Never talk money unless the employer brings it up, or if they offer you the job,” Thielsen said. “And never say no to an offer. Give yourself at least 24 hours to decide.”
• At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer for his or her time. Be sure to send a thank-you note, by mail or e-mail, within a few days. You can include another copy of your resume with the note.