12 Crucial Tips for Your Next Job Interview

12 Crucial Tips for Your Next Job Interview

Job hunts are often long, excruciating processes that culminate with the deal-breaker: the interview. While a good resume and cover letter can help you get a foot in the door, the interview is where you are able to showcase your skills in person. The hiring manager wants to be impressed, so show them that you are driven and want to help their company succeed. They’re also looking to make sure you have the right skills, and that you’ll be able to mesh with the team. Sharpen your interviewing skills and ace your next job interview with these 12 crucial tips!

1. Plan a professional outfit
Interviews are all about first impressions, so what you wear is extremely important. If you’re headed into an interview at a professional or business job, get your dress clothes dry cleaned and pressed beforehand. When you’re interviewing at a start-up or workplace that goes by business casual, strike a good balance between being professional but not formal. 

2. Prepare your answers for common questions
You should be able to anticipate quite a few of your interviewer’s questions. Make a list of questions you think they will ask, and then write down your answers. This is a crucial step– while you might be able to answer “tell me about yourself” easily, it will be much harder to come up with an example of how you deal with conflict on the spot. Find a list of common interview questions here.

3. Research the company
A common, deadly interview mistake is being underprepared when it comes to research. Interviewers want to hear that you will drive the company’s mission forward and be committed, and the best way to demonstrate that is by showing that you’ve done your homework. Your research will also help you brainstorm questions the interviewer might ask that are company or field specific and come up with questions that you can ask the interviewer. 

4. Practice your interview beforehand
In the days leading up to the big interview, it’s a good idea to sit down and practice giving your answers to the questions. While having another person to practice with is always helpful, don’t stress if you can’t find someone to help. Just give your answers in the mirror, or record yourself saying them and play it back to check for mistakes. 

5. Early is on time, and on time is late
Outside of not showing up, one of the worst mistakes you can make in an interview is being late. Get there 10-15 minutes ahead of when the interview is scheduled. To make sure you’re on time, plan when you’ll leave and check the traffic. It’s also a good idea to lay out your outfit and everything you need to bring with you (extra resume copy, pen, paper etc.) the night before. 

6. Carry yourself confidently
Nonverbal cues tell your interviewer more than you think, so make sure your body language conveys confidence, interest, and intelligence. Keep your arms uncrossed to remain open, and greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and a smile. Good posture will always exude confidence and shows that you are attentive. Don’t slump in your chair. Instead, keep your back straight and away from the back of the chair. 

7. Be an active listener
Make sure you’re paying attention and really focusing on what the interviewer is saying. You can accomplish this by eliminating distractions and opportunities to fidget. Tuck your hair out of your face, don’t bring a drink into the room, and leave your phone in the bag. Quality eye contact is also important, but don’t stare your interviewer down. Finally, lean in, and react to what the interviewer is saying with subtle gestures like a nod. 

8. Tailor your attitude to the job
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to your attitude in a job interview. Be appropriate for the setting, and when in doubt, err on the professional side. Most of all, don’t try to be funny or casual when the message is serious. Remember that some jobs, especially in the customer service sector, require a friendly, helpful attitude. 

9. Answer the questions directly and succinctly
It can be easy to ramble and stumble over your words when you’re in a high-pressure situation like an interview. By being aware of these verbal tics, you can help control them. Your interviewer doesn’t need to hear your life story– if you’re at an interview for a barista job, they wanna know if you have the actual barista job essential skills.

10. Be honest!
Don’t avoid answering a question or deflect it. You can put forth your best self without sugar-coating or lying outright. When asked about weaknesses, don’t shy away and claim you don’t have any or try to spin it (e.g. I just work too hard!). Instead, choose a weakness won’t hinder your job performance or is something you’ve worked to improve

11. Don’t badmouth past employers
Negativity is a major red flag to potential employers. It signals that you aren’t a team player, and they will be asking themselves: “If they hated their old boss, what stops them from hating me too?” Plus, if you’re applying for a job in a field you’ve worked in before, there’s a possibility that your interviewer knows your old company or boss. 

12. Ask questions and follow up 
The interview doesn’t end when the interviewer finishes asking their questions. You need to respond with a few quality questions of your own, to show that you’re interested and curious. Prepare questions to ask beforehand with the aim of getting more information about the job, career path, and company. Avoid seeming presumptuous by asking questions about salary, holidays, or benefits.

An important question to ask your interviewer is “what are the next steps?” They’ll let you the hiring timeline, and when it’s appropriate to follow up. Always send a thank you note. If you aren’t hired, accept the rejection with grace and send your best wishes. While it can be hard to move on, you want to leave the company with a stellar impression of you. Then, prepare for your next job interview!

Whether you’re applying for your first job or establishing your career, a solid interview will go a long way. Let these 12 principles guide you through your next job interview. It’s your chance to represent yourself as a great employee, so take it!

Addison Jenning

Addison Jenning is an HR manager and a passionate writer who recruits, motivates and contributes to the development of employees. She oversees the effective and successful execution of the company's internal strategy. Addison regularly contributes for Job Descriptions Wiki. You can also find her on Twitter.