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22 Tips for an Easy, Breezy Job Interview

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Woman in a job interview

Photo courtesy of Christina Wocintechchat

Congratulations! You’re about to interview for the Job of Your Dreams™...or at least, that’s the hope. To get you ready for, well, destiny, we put together a list of 22 interview tips. Because you’re worth it.

22 job interview tips

1. Do your research

Review the company’s products, services, values, and any of their recent news coverage or press releases. Look up the hiring manager and executives on LinkedIn. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of the company, but you should be able to rattle off enough stats to show you know what you’re talking about.

2. Reread the job description

Again, you don’t need to know everything here, but you need to have the general idea of what your role might encompass. As you read through the job description, note the areas where you’re already qualified, the tasks that would be a stretch for your current skill set, and any questions you have about the role. You don’t need to be 100 percent qualified, but you do need to have responses ready when the hiring manager asks you about responsibilities outside your current job experience.

3. Practice the hard questions

Ask a friend or family member to conduct a practice interview with you so you can work through difficult questions like these:

4. Use the STAR method

The STAR method is an interview answer technique you should practice before the big day. Essentially, you answer a question in four steps—Situation, Task, Action, Result—in an attempt to give a complete and compelling answer. You can learn more about the method here.

5. Write down your questions

Those questions you wrote down about the job description? Expect to ask them during the interview, as well as any questions you might have about the company and its culture. Jot down a few questions you can ask so when the hiring manager asks, Do you have any questions? you won’t sit in silence.

Read more: 93 Questions to Ask in an Interview That Will Actually Tell You About the Job

6. Think through your must-haves

Beyond the role itself, decide your must-haves in terms of benefits and culture. Healthy work-life balance. Paid maternity leave. Movie days a few Fridays out of the year (that’s one at InHerSight). These are things you’re looking for in an employer, and they matter.

7. ...and your deal-breakers

Just as you learn your must-haves over time, you also learn your never-agains. Think back to your previous work experiences and decide what you absolutely do not want to carry with you into the future. Review common interview red flags as well, just in case.

8. Clean up your social media

These days, you don’t need to be squeaky clean online to get a job—if there’s a photo of you drinking a glass of wine on Instagram, no one is going to think twice. But if there’s a photo of you chugging a double bottle of Barefoot? Kindly take that down or make your profile private. Employers will Google you. 

9. Take off work—professionally

You can’t tell your boss you’re taking off work for an interview, but you don’t have to lie to them either. (A colleague once told me that, if I wanted to maintain a close relationship with my soon-to-be-former boss, I should be as honest as possible—I maintain this was good advice.) What you have to say is...nothing. You need to take a personal day. You’ll come in after lunch. You need to leave early. Done.

Read more: How to Get a Job in Another State (From Someone Who’s Done It Twice)

10. Plan your outfit

There are two things you should consider when choosing your interview outfit: the clothes you feel most confident wearing and the company where you’re interviewing. In general, overdressing is better than underdressing, but wouldn’t it be nice not to be that person in a suit and heels when everyone else is in jeans?

11. Plan your transportation

How will you get there? If you’re driving, where will you park? How long will it take you to get from point A to point B? You don’t want any surprises on interview day, and you don’t want to be late.

Read more: 11 Essential Items to Bring to an Interview

12. Sleep!

As with most big moments, you’ll have a clearer head and calmer heart (I’m sorry) if you get a good night’s rest.

13. Arrive early—but not too early

Ten minutes early is your sweet spot. No more, no less. If you’re going to be late, notify the hiring manager as soon as you know it’ll be a problem. If you get there earlier, sit in your car or take a walk around the block.

14. Silence your phone

Yes, “Super Bass” is an iconic ringtone choice. Turn it off.

15. Shake hands like a normal human

Handshakes can have a huge impact on your first impression. Aim for a firm, dry (yes, I said that) one-handed grip. Don’t go in for a hug or hold the hiring manager’s forearm. It shouldn’t last more than five seconds.

16. Be confident

Easier said than done, right? No, no, you can do this. Hype yourself up with a mantra, that great interview outfit you chose, or the knowledge that, hey, you know what you’re doing—and you don’t have to be perfect at this. Not at all.

Read more: Why 60% Qualified Is Enough, According to a Recruiter

17. Be yourself

Speaking of confidence—be yourself. Although interviewing can be intimidating, try to pretend like it’s just a friendly conversation. You’re talking about what you know, and the person across the table is deeply fascinated by that. Nbd.

18. Take notes

Writing things down is an excellent way to show a hiring manager you’re engaged in the conversation. Your notes are also good fodder for the thank-you letter you’ll send afterward. 

19. Answer truthfully

Interviews are not the place to make things up. If you don’t know the answer to a question, simply say, I’m not sure, but I’m interested in learning, or say you’ll follow up with a better answer. This is a genuine reply—so much better than a meandering answer that isn’t quite right.

20. Don’t trash talk

Bad previous work experience? Leave it in the past. Talking about toxic work environments or bad bosses during an interview reflects negatively on one person: you. A mentor of mine taught me this trick: When you walk into a house you hate, find one thing you love and talk about it. That’s how you win people over—and how you keep your interviewer from putting up caution flags.

Read more: Ask a Recruiter: How Can I Move On After Working in a Toxic Environment?

21. Know your worth

Interviews are a lot like dating—at least in the sense that both parties need to be onboard in order for the relationship to move forward. That means you’re not completely at the mercy of The Man. Look for a company where you can achieve your goals. Ask and negotiate for the benefits you want.

22. Follow up

Stay top of mind by following up soon after your interview. The email or thank-you note should be brief, but thoughtful. Talk about something from the interview—a project you really want to work on or an idea that intrigued you. 

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By Beth Castle

Managing Editor, InHerSight

Beth Castle is on staff at InHerSight, where she writes about workplace rights, diversity and inclusion, allyship, and feminism. Her bylines include Fast Company, Charlotte magazine, The Charlotte Observer, SouthPark magazine, Southbound magazine, and Atlanta magazine. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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