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:
- How to Respond to “Tell Me About Yourself” in an Interview
- How to Answer: Do You Want to Tell Us Anything Else About You?
- How to Answer: What Makes You Unique?
- How to Answer 4 Common Situational Interview Questions
- 3 Right Ways Answer: Why Are You the Best Person for the Job?
- How to Answer the Question: What Does Customer Service Mean to You?
- 5 Tough Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
- 2 Ways to Answer: Why Do You Want to Work Here?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.