Nailing the interview: what every job candidate should know

You’ve looked over your resumé more times than you can count. Your cover letter is so well written that it rivals the works of Shakespeare. But there’s still one challenge you must face before you can accept your dream job: the dreaded interview.

The interview process can be a scary time for job applicants, often because they don’t know what to expect or how to present themselves to a new employer. This guide will teach you the basics of how to prepare for all types of interviews, no matter what you’re applying for, and help you shake off the interview jitters before the big day!


The interview begins the moment you walk through the door

You may have scheduled your interview at 10am, but ever since you checked in with the receptionist at 9:47 (early, of course!), your behaviours have been observed. Were you polite when you checked in? What did you do in the lobby while you waited for your interviewer? Instead of texting friends and checking Instagram on your phone for the next 13 minutes, take the time to look through any company-related brochures or publications that are out on the table nearby. This demonstrates an interest in the company and will give you something new to talk about with the employer.

Dress the part

Invest in a nicely tailored suit or pretty dress before you sit down to interview – it will pay for itself in the future. Dressing professionally shows that you take the interview seriously and that you care about the position. A nice outfit may also boost your confidence just enough to help you soar through the interview.

Take your time

You may not have the perfect answer to every question right away, and that’s perfectly fine. Don’t feel obligated to spit out the first answer that comes to mind. Allow yourself to breathe and pause between questions so that you can provide a thoughtful, intelligent answer.

Practice makes progress

Interviewing gets easier with time and experience. One way to gain this experience in a relatively short time is by organising a mock interview. You may be able to set this up through your university, or you might phone a friend for the extra help. Create a list of questions you think the interviewer might ask: “Tell me about yourself.” “Why are you interested in our public relations internship?” “What qualities do you feel make you a strong candidate for this position?” “What are some of your weaknesses?” If you need help thinking of questions, simply Google “commonly asked interview questions”. Ask for feedback from your mock interviewer or consider filming yourself so you can watch it back and make changes later on.

Follow up with a thank you note

The interviewer just gave you a half hour of her time (maybe even more!), so it is always polite to follow up after the interview with a note. Whether you decide to pen a handwritten card or type out an email is entirely up to you. By sending a thank you note, you are setting yourself apart from other applicants and demonstrating that you value the employer’s time and consideration.

With these tips, you’ll be sure to succeed at your interview. Good luck!

Do you have any more interview tips? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: bpsusf / Flickr

Valerie Moses is a marketing and PR professional who lives in Orlando, Florida. When she isn’t with friends or attempting a new healthy recipe, she can be found at her lifestyle and college advice blog, So It Must Be True.

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