8 Steps to Ace That Interview

It’s a scary fact that many employers decide within 10 minutes whether a candidate is right for the position. You may be prepared for the interview in the sense that you’ve researched the company, memorized your strengths, and thought of good questions to ask the interviewer but, the point of an interview is for the hiring mangers to see if they like you in person. Don’t fret my friends, there is a formula for walking out of every interview thinking, “Nailed it.”

Step 1. Dress sharp. Unless you’re interviewing for a position as a yoga teacher, any type of stretchy pants are out. That goes for dark, light, or any other shade of jeans. The safest way to go is a two piece suit, or a dress and blazer, in dark colors. Business casual is not merely a suggestion.

Step 2. Complete your look with a classic watch, a belt (if appropriate), presentable outerwear if the weather calls for it, and very subtle jewelry for girls. Stud earrings and/or a small chain necklace will make you look pulled together without causing a distraction. Pay attention to details! Knowing you are flawless from head to toe will help instill confidence.

Step 3.Be 15-30 minutes early. Your arrival may be the hiring manager’s first impression of you, so make it count. This will not only make you punctual, but give you extra time to fill out paperwork. Some people like to go over their resume and notes one last time as well. The earlier you are, the more calm and collected you will feel by the time the actual interview takes place.

Step 4. Take a few sips of water and breath while you wait. Reviewing your notes before an interview is good practice, but remember you’re not crunching for an exam. Take the time to assert to yourself that you are prepared, you are qualified, and you are confident. Sit up a little straight, put on a smile, and be relaxed.

Step 5. If you’re kept waiting for a while, be careful not to show any agitation. Be aware of your body language and facial expressions. Try to avoid checking your phone once you’re in the building. 60% of CareerBuilder surveyed employers say they view checking texts and phone calls negatively.

Step 6. Smile and shake hands like you mean it, because you are self-assured and happy to be there. It’s cliche, but clammy, limp hands make you seem timid. If you tend to get damp palms when you’re nervous, carry tissues to the interview and dry your hands inconspicuously before you see the interviewer.

Step 7. When you answer questions, talk slowly. Many people talk quickly when they are nervous. Be assertive in answering, ask them thoughtful and intelligent questions, and at the conclusion of the interview thank the person for their time and say you enjoyed meeting with them.

Step 8. Get a business card, or at the very least the email address, of your interviewer. Send them a thank-you email within 24 hours. This is will reinforce that you’re professional and set you apart from other candidates who may have neglected this step.

Ready for the thank-you email? Follow up next week and we’ll tell you all you need to know about sending a thank you email to employers.

You may also like:
The IT List: Interview Attire
Preparing For An Interview
Networking Your Way to the Top

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The IT List: Interview Attire

There is a time and a place to show off your wildest and most fashionable attire – a birthday party or New Year’s Eve, for instance. However, a typical job interview is not exactly where you want to kick off your career as a fashion maven. It is important to find an outfit that you feel comfortable in but, unless you’re auditioning for an LMFAO music video, leave anything neon or animal print at home. You want your ensemble to be inconspicuous and put together, not distracting or overwhelming. After all, the interview is about keeping the interviewer focused on YOU and what you have to offer as an employee. We have a few Interview-Ready suggestions as well as a few choices to avoid – so keep reading!

The Go-For-IT List:

This tie from Express is subtle, yet polished.

Tailored Suit: Nowadays, it’s important to look sharp and put together and a suit does just that! For men, a traditional suit, tie (like the one pictured, from Express), and button down works best and for women a fitted pantsuit or jacket-and-skirt combo (with stockings!) is professional. T he most important part is that it fits properly, so get it tailored if necessary!

Appropriate Dress Shoes: Be sure to wear shoes that are fairly conservative but are still current with today’s trends. Make sure they have been cleaned and shined – you want them to look their best!

Minimum Jewelry: When used appropriately, a simple necklace or watch can make an outfit seem very put-together. However, use the glitz and glam sparingly. Both men and women should avoid any facial jewelry, a s well as anything too flashy or distracting. Leave the excess bling behind.

Groomed Hair and Face: You can have the best outfit in the world, but if your hair is messy or your make-up is too heavy, it’s not going to matter. Hair should be clean, combed, and out of your face and women should stick with conservative makeup that appropriately enhances their features – think more “serious” than “Snooki.”

The Avoid-IT List:

These glittery nail polishes are more "Party" than "Professional."

  • Conspicuous bag or briefcase (should not be bright and printed or tattered and worn)
  • Wild nail polish or otherwise un-groomed nails
  • Ill-fitting pants/skirt (too tight, too short, too baggy
  • Distracting colors or patterns
  • Anything outdated or worn
  • Inappropriate shoes (platforms, backless, scuffed)
  • Heavy perfume or cologne
We hope we’ve provided some useful tips for making a professional style impression. As a general rule, lean towards the conservative side when dressing for an interview. Keep the focus on what a stellar employee you will be! For more insight into what to avoid in an interview, check out the Monster article, 10 Interview Fashion Blunders!
We’d love to hear any questions or suggestions you might have, so feel free to leave us a comment!
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