We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in that reception room waiting for someone to fetch you for your interview. You’re fidgety, and your palms are so sweaty you’re leaving wet streaks on your pant legs, and — sniff — did you forget deodorant?
Whether you’re applying to your first or tenth job, the process doesn’t get any less nerve-wracking. Interviews can feel like not-so-glorified auditions, but, with the right mindset, you can ensure you’re going in there and presenting your most confident self.
Here are five tips that will help you walk into your next interview with confidence:
1. Do your research!
Next to your impeccable resume, information is the best weapon you can arm yourself with when going into an interview. It would be best if you had more than a vague idea of what the company does. It doesn’t matter if you’re applying for a minimum wage position or a high-paying gig, if you want to capture your interviewer’s attention, you need to make a good impression and go a step (or ten) beyond other candidates!
Learn everything you possibly can about the company: When was it founded? What’s their mission statement? What are their values?
Align yourself with what you found! Is the company as big on reducing their carbon footprint as you are? Tell them how that impresses you, or how much that aligns with your environmental philosophy. Mention how something in their mission statement touched you.
Don’t just let your resume speak for you; go in there prepared and confident, and make them see that you’re the perfect candidate!
2. Don’t wing it!
Too many people go in completely unprepared, thinking they’re just going to wing it and look like a rock star. I hate to break it to you, but unless you’re an Oscar-winning performer, that’s not going to cut it.
Of course, you can’t predict every single question the interviewer will ask you, but you can anticipate a few of them. Questions like, “What makes you the ideal candidate for this position?” or, “can you tell me about a time when X or Y happened, and how you handled it?”
These questions will vary depending on the job for which you’re applying. But if this your area of expertise, odds are you’ve heard them all. Be prepared — and don’t go for the safe cookie-cutter answer. Make it memorable, think outside the box, and, most importantly, practice until you can say it in a smooth conversational tone — the last thing you want to do is sound like you’ve rehearsed this for your cat dozens of times.
Tip: A great way to answer the dreaded question, “Why did you leave your last company?” without speaking negatively, even if there were hard feelings, is to say, “I felt like I had reached the cap of growth I could achieve there, and that I still have so much more to offer. I needed a space to grow to my full potential and shine, and I think this role at your company is the perfect opportunity!”
Also, practice your questions, because you know they’ll ask if you have any!
3. Show genuine interest!
Body language can speak louder than words — it practically screams, even if you’re sitting quietly. This concept is pretty simple, but we can sabotage ourselves so quickly — many of us have habits like slouching or sitting with our legs or arms crossed, and those things can be huge red flags for interviewers.
There are many available resources online about body language, but here are just a few to keep in mind when sitting down in front of that inquisitive stranger:
- Sit up straight — don’t slouch.
- Don’t cross your legs, and don’t tap your feet or bounce your knees.
- Keep your hands in your lap unless you need to use them, and keep them still, don’t fidget!
- Lean forward slightly (very slightly) when they’re speaking to you — even tilt your head slightly to the side as you’re listening to them. It shows that you’re truly listening.
- Keep eye contact — don’t be weird and stare them down, but when one of you is speaking, maintain eye contact with them, don’t focus on the water stain on the ceiling, the crooked picture on the wall or the piece of broccoli stuck in their teeth.
- Smile! This one is simple — you want to appear friendly and cheerful, but I mean, don’t overdo it and end up looking like a demented clown.
- Have a firm — but not death-grip firm — handshake; nobody likes a limp noodle, and a weak handshake doesn’t show the confidence you’re trying to portray.
4. Remember their name!
As Dale Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”
If you expect the interviewer to know your name — which they will, since they have your resume in front of them — then you should put as much importance into remembering theirs.
Many people are ‘horrible with names,’ and the number of candidates who most likely ask them to repeat it at the end of the interview is probably on the high side. If you’re that one person who remembers their name: “Thank you so much for meeting with me today, Jon, I look forward to hearing from you soon!” You will make them feel like you’re paying attention. You will stand out.
5. Be personable!
You can usually gauge an interviewer’s attitude rather quickly by how they speak to you: are they staid and stoic, all-business-no-pleasure types? Or are they smiley, chatty, and personal?
Being personable is always a win, but please keep your level as close to theirs as possible; you don’t want to be cracking jokes if they look like they’ve just come from a funeral. You should still be friendly and smile, but keep the chatter to a minimum.
If they’re the friendly type, however, it’s okay to mirror their demeanour. Finding common ground with the interviewer is a sure-fire way to get you remembered! Maybe you both have young children, love the same author, or aspire to be expert kazoo players. Whatever the connection, use it to your advantage, but don’t go into your entire life story. Nobody needs to know about how your great-uncle Jack was buried with his favourite kazoo, and that every year on his birthday, you and your siblings congregate at his grave to play a kazoo-rendition of Danny Boy. That’s a hair too much.
*You can read more about the importance of remembering names and being personable here!
It might seem incredibly obvious to most, but I often see people committing this heinous act against themselves.
Unless you’re in a desperate situation and need to find a job — any job — in a real hurry, do yourself a solid and make sure you’re only applying for a position if you truly want it!
If you’re not rushed and have a bit of flexibility, don’t settle for a job you think might be bearable; you’ll only end up miserable and having to start the whole process over again.
Make sure you’ve done your research and know that you love the company and what it stands for, and want to be a part of it.
Now go forth with your best pant-suit — don’t forget to iron it — and conquer the boardroom!