So you’ve made it past the phone or video interview and scored an in-person interview for a great job at a great company that you would absolutely love to work for. The problem is, so have a number of other candidates who are equally great candidates for the job. So what do you do?
This interview is your chance to shine, to make a great impression and to connect your experience and interests with the company’s goals and the role you applied for. It’s also your chance to make a vital connection with your interviewer, to help them see you in the role and with the company. And with the right preparation leading up to the interview day, you can do just that.
A resume full of experience or not, having a great interview during which you feel confident and are able to connect with your interviewer and elaborate on why you are the right person for the job can be the very thing that sets you apart from the tens or hundreds of other candidates who may, on paper, be stronger candidates.
Consider this your quick guide to having a great in-person interview.
Research the company
As soon as your interview is scheduled, one of the first things you should do is learn all you can about the company. This will help you be able to better connect your skills and attributes to company needs. Check CareerBliss’s massive database of companies to see what employees are saying about the company you’re interviewing with. You’ll be able to see average salaries, happiness ratings and more.
Then peruse the company website, focusing particularly on the About Us section, and any media mentions or awards the company has received. If it’s a B2B company, familiarize yourself with who they’ve worked with. Scan their blog to see what they’re writing about, and read some that strike your fancy--you may just have the opportunity to discuss it in your interview. Don’t forget to see what they’re sharing with their followers on social as well.
Check-in with your networks
Check your own LinkedIn page (or your phone’s contact list) to see if you have any connections who work for the company or have in the past. Reaching out to them for additional information can arm you with knowledge about how the company works, the culture and what they’re looking for in their team members. They can also fill you in on what the interview process is like so you can be as prepared as possible.
Dress the part
The right attire can not only give you the confidence to shine in your interview--it can also help your interviewer actually see you in the role. While business attire is generally a safe bet for many interviews, make sure to inquire about the dress code at the company, and how to dress for the interview. Startup companies generally require a less formal (but still smart) look, while corporate jobs would expect you to suit up, or at the very least aim for the upper end of business casual.
Consider the job, the company, and how you want to portray yourself. Whatever the dress code at the company, take it up a notch for the interview. Make sure to keep your dress and grooming fairly neutral so as to not be distracting or detract from anything you’re sharing during your interview.
Bring these to your interview
Your prospective employer may already have printed out your resume, but you shouldn’t count on it. To be safe, bring several extra copies of your resume in case you will be meeting with multiple people. You can’t assume they’ve all reviewed it or have it on hand. Bring a list of your references, as well as the questions you want to ask about the company and the work. If you are in a creative field, bring your portfolio to provide samples of your work on the spot. This will not only streamline the entire process but show that you are prepared at every turn.
Prepare a list of smart questions
Always have questions ready. But never just ask a question for the sake of asking a question. Think through what you want to know ahead of time that would help you evaluate if the company and job is the right fit for you. You can also use the question segment to give further clarification on something that may have been lost in translation. For example, you can ask your interviewer if there was anything in the interview or in your experience that didn’t bode well for your chances at getting the job. If they respond yes, then you have a perfect time to clarify what you actually meant. Here are some questions to get you started.
Practice ahead of time
Practice makes us far better than we’d ever imagined. And while it may seem like an unnecessary step (after all, you know how to talk to people, right?), running through your interview several times can make it feel more natural and help you identify problem areas that you can smooth out before the big day. Record yourself, beginning with introductions all the way through your answering a combination of tricky, common and hard interview questions. Study your speech pattern, enunciation, body language, facial expression, and whether you’re making eye contact. Keep practicing and keep recording, and you’ll see improvement and feel far more confident that you’ve got this.
Be friendly to everyone you meet at the company
Make sure you know the name of the person you’re meeting with. Being able to ask for a person (and address them) by name helps to build connections and speaks into our shared humanness. From the moment you arrive for your interview, you should be polite and gracious to everyone you meet: the receptionist, the guy who walked in with you, the other interviewees, everyone. You never know if one or all of these people will be your coworkers, and you certainly don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. People will notice your graciousness and that will speak volumes about you.
Remember the thank-you note
The end of your interview isn’t the end of the process. Make sure to send a thank-you email (or letter by snail-mail for a very personal, memorable touch) the day of your interview. Your graciousness to acknowledge with gratitude the time your interviewer took out of their busy day to meet with you will be appreciated. Your note will also give you the chance to reiterate your enthusiasm for the job you are vying for, and provide opportunity to mention anything you may have forgotten to mention during the interview. (Just don’t make these thank-you note mistakes!)
But wait! Here’s a bonus ‘WOW’ factor move that you may want to try!
Take initiative and just start doing the job
Okay, so this isn’t a necessary part of the interview process. But creating and presenting a plan of what you would do for the company in the first 3-6 months of being hired can really boost your ‘wow’ factor and set you apart from everyone else. Consider thinking through your potential role in the company, and the goals you would achieve, the strategy you would create, and the way it would all impact the company.
While you’re in prep mode, make sure to check out our other tips to help you strengthen your hireability and secure your next happy job.