6 Ways to Conquer an Interview
12:30 pm, July 11th | by Sarah Kaufman, Manilla.com
Going on a job interview is a lot like going on a first date: You have to make a good impression or you’ll likely never see the person again. And while every industry is different in terms of what a hiring manager may be looking for, there’s a basic formula to interviewing that consists of a few key elements.
1. Dress the (professional) part.
Even though the office environment where you’re applying may seem like every day is casual Friday, that doesn’t mean it’s casual for you. Remember, you don’t work there yet, so showing up in jeans won’t help you fit in — it’ll make you stick out like a lost puppy and give the impression that you really don’t care about the interview (or just have no idea what you’re doing).
That said, gone are the days of men wearing suits and ties and women wearing professional dresses to every interview. You should feel welcome to wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and show off your personality, but ones that are still professional and clean.
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2. Do your research.
Get to know the company you want to work for before you step foot in the door. If your interviewer asks you what you know about the company, the worst answer you can give is, “Nothing.” Come armed with knowledge of specific examples of things your company is doing so when the hiring manager asks something like, “How could our marketing be better?” you can respond with feedback on the company’s most recent marketing campaign and what you would have done differently.
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3. Avoid getting too personal.
In many interviews, a question along the lines of, “Tell me about a time when you encountered an obstacle and how you overcame it” will surface. While the interviewer won’t often steer you in a certain direction, it’s a good idea to stick to professional hardships or obstacles that you were able to overcome, such as having to learn new computer software for a project. Although overcoming a personal hardship — death in the family, marital problems, sick children, etc. — are certainly impressive and something to be proud of, it can leave your interviewer feeling uncomfortable and awkward, not sympathetic.
4. Be yourself (but your really together, professional self).
“If they don’t like me for me, then screw ‘em” is not the attitude to have walking into a job interview. Back to the first date analogy, when you go on a job interview or date, you do have to put on a little bit of a show. You don’t want to show poor judgment by immediately telling bad or inappropriate jokes, cursing up a storm, or not brushing your hair.
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5. Ask questions (at the appropriate time).
Part of being prepared is coming armed with questions. At the end of almost every interview you go on, the hiring manager will ask you if you have any questions. Saying no shows lack of curiosity and lack of preparedness. Have a list of questions prepared and make sure they are high in quality — questions that could impact your level of interest of the job and ones that could help you do good work if you are offered the position.
6. Send follow-up thank you emails to each person you meet.
After the interview, send a thank you email to each person that you met during the process. Rather than making it a quick one- or two-sentence email that could go to anyone, show that you were listening by calling out something specific that was mentioned in the interview. For example, “I enjoyed learning about X because Y” or “When you mentioned X, I thought Y.”
Sarah Kaufman is the editor-in-chief of the Manilla Blog and marketing manager at Manilla.com, the leading, free and secure service that helps consumers to simplify and organize their daily lives. Using just one password, customers can manage their finances, utilities, daily deals, travel and rewards programs, Netflix and magazine subscriptions, OpenTable reservations, and more — all through Manilla.com or the 4+ star customer-rated iOS and Android mobile apps. For more career tips, visit the Manilla Blog.