8 Tips for a Professional Job Interview
The job interview is your chance to dazzle a prospective employer. Prior to the interview, the hiring manager only knows you from your resume and cover letter. With the interview, you get to fill in all the blank spaces and let the manager know who you really are. From the second you walk into an interview, you are being assessed. Try some of the following tips to impress your next interviewer with your poise and professionalism.
Look the Part
If you’re actively looking for a job, make sure you have one or two impeccable business outfits in your closet. For men, interview wear probably means a suit. At the very least, invest in a couple of ties and dress pants. Women have more flexibility and can look appropriate in suits, dresses, sweaters, skirts, or slacks. Find something that fits well, makes you feel good, and also looks neat and professional. It’s wise to err on the side of dressing conservatively, but don’t be afraid to add a dash of flair to show some personality.
Bring Your Paperwork
You sent the company your resume, so everyone you interview with should already have a copy when they meet you. In reality, it doesn’t always work out that way. Be sure to bring printed copies of your resume, cover letter, and references with you. If someone interviewing you confesses that they don’t have your resume, you will look super competent if you are able to produce the missing document instantly.
Allow yourself extra time to arrive at the interview location. Showing up early demonstrates an ability to plan ahead and anticipate obstacles. Plus, you’ll be far more relaxed and focused if you aren’t rushing into the interview at the last minute. If you’re worried that arriving early will make you look a little over-eager, you can always kill some time in your car until a few minutes before the scheduled interview time.
Engage, Engage, Engage
Understand what a job interview is all about. The hiring manager is taking the top candidates and trying to figure out who is the best fit for the company. It’s more about personality than job qualifications or experience. If the manager didn’t think you were capable of doing the job, he or she wouldn’t bother interviewing you. So you want to focus on engaging with the person interviewing you. Relax and actively listen to the interviewer. The best interviews are the ones that feel like a naturally flowing conversation.
Make Eye Contact
If you’re an introvert, this bit of advice can feel like torture, but force yourself to look the interviewer in the eye as much as possible. An inability to make eye contact can often be interpreted as weak, secretive, or untrustworthy.
It’s not about the Money
When you’re interviewing with the hiring manager, resist the urge to ask about compensation. Many managers don’t mind discussing pay, but there are others who find it crass and off-putting. Remember, you want to impress the manager with how much you want the job not how much you want the paycheck. Yes, you need to know how much the job pays, but this question is for the recruiter or human resources representative. Benefits, paid time off, and similar topics should also be directed toward human resources.
Other Taboo Topics
There are many other subjects you shouldn’t bring up during job interviews. As a general rule, politics, religion, and other potentially controversial topics should be left at home. It will be a very brief interview if you offend the interviewer. Also, be careful about bringing up personal details that could run afoul of human resources. Due to equal employment opportunity guidelines, interviewers are not allowed to ask questions about your age, ethnicity, marital status, medical history, sexual orientation, etc. While some of these topics may naturally come up during the conversation, try to avoid them if possible.
End on a Positive Note
Always end the interview by reiterating your interest in the job. Explain that, after learning more about the position, you are more convinced than ever that you would be an excellent fit. Leave no doubt in the interviewer’s mind that you would welcome a job offer. It’s also a good idea to ask for a business card at the end of the interview so you can send a thank you note or email to the interviewer. The thank you note is another excellent opportunity to restate your qualifications and reiterate your interest in the job.
If you can master these eight tips, you will feel confident about the interview process. And nothing conveys professionalism and competence quite like a healthy dose of confidence.
Written by Erik Siwak, Communications Manager for Bridgepoint Education