Even though we all hate interviewing because you have to be ‘on’ and are under a lot of pressure to perform, it is a necessary evil. Hopefully, you will never have to interview more than a few times in your life, but you will NEED to pull out and dust off your best interviewing self once in a while.
Here’s what I do when I have an interview with a company (it’s long and takes about a week to prepare for, but worth it)
Research on the company
- What do they emphasize as a company culture
- What are their training and benefits programs
- What job openings do they have
Memorize your resume as much as possible
I don’t see a problem in having it in front of you (let’s face it, who can remember all the great stuff you’ve done?), but you shouldn’t be reading off it.
Set up a list of standard career Q&A questions:
- Your education
- Your career so far
- Your future career goals and objectives
- Problems/Conflicts you’ve dealt with
- What you like/hate about the job
- Why you want to work for them
- Why they should hire you
Finally, this is the hardest part of all. Totally optional, but I highly recommend you do it:
Tape yourself with someone else interviewing you
You will see all the things interviewers see, namely:
- How long it takes for you to answer (don’t jump into the question)
- How many times you ‘uhhh’…’ummmm’ and if it’s unacceptable for conversation flow
- Where your weak points are (e.g. in describing your career)
- How you look and move — Do you fidget a lot? Do you shift and tap your foot or fingers?
- If you slouch and come off as being low-energy or uninterested (even if you are not!)
- If your answers are too long, too vague, too short, or not really answering the question
It is a nasty exercise, especially for someone like me, who loathes looking at all this kind of stuff, but it is WORTH IT to see how you come off to others.
Practice the visual/body language stuff
How is your handshake? It should a firm (not painful) 2-pump handshake where you grip the other person’s hand and shake it confidently.
How do you look? If there was ever a time to slap on some basic makeup (concealer, eyeliner, lip balm) and attempt to do your hair, now is it. Make sure your clothes are ironed, nothing is ripped or frayed, and everything fits.
Also, I suggest clean, TRIMMED fingernails. Nothing so long, fake and airbrushed that it makes you shiver, but no one likes to see nails bitten down to the nailbed either.
How is your demeanor? Do you walk confidently or shyly? Do you frown without knowing it? Do you look people in the eye and smile, or try to hide?
These non-verbal cues are BIG DEALS.
It is easy to look awesome on paper, but people hire the person, not the accomplishments, so unless you are an undisputed genius in your job, you will need to practice all of that.