The labor market in the U.S. is looking good as the summer comes to a close, with 528,000 jobs added in July alone. Still, when you’re going for a top position — or maybe even your personal dream job — it’s likely you’ll face stiff competition.
For these top jobs, any advantage you can bring to the interview is helpful. That’s why it’s so important to look the part, do your research, and bring your A-game in general.
Whether you’re looking for a higher-paying job, interviewing in hopes of breaking into a new field, or applying for your first gig out of college, here are 13 things to always do during (or after) a job interview, no matter the field.
Research the company
Showing right off the bat that you put in the effort to learn about the company should be a priority. It’s generally a good idea to do a Google search, look the company up on LinkedIn, and see if the firm has been in the news recently.
This preparation will be especially helpful if the manager asks why you’re interested in the company during the interview. Doing your homework will put you in a much better position than simply winging it.
Dress for the job
The phrase “dress for the job you want” is widely used for a reason. The ideal attire for a job interview depends on the company and job description, but in many business situations, classic professional attire is the way to go.
This could mean a suit or dress slacks. Or, it might mean a nice dress or skirt with your best pair of pumps or flats, or perhaps a pants suit.
Arrive on time
You want to be respectful of the person who is interviewing you, and that includes being respectful of their time.
It’s a good rule of thumb to arrive 10 minutes early — maybe even 15 minutes if you’re commuting to an unfamiliar area — to ensure you’re on time for the interview, and that the hiring manager’s first impression isn’t of you showing up late.
Plan responses beforehand
Interview questions can vary depending on your field and the job you’re applying for. However, there are some universal questions that come up often. Use these to prepare.
For example, many interviewers ask about things such as:
- Your career history
- Why you’re interested in a new job
- What your greatest strengths and weaknesses are
- What salary range you are looking for
- Why they should hire you
Preparing responses for those universal questions — but remembering to keep the answers casual during the actual interview — should make the whole process that much easier.
Get familiar with the job description
Read over the job description again before you head into the interview. A job interview, after all, is an opportunity to sell yourself — and to sell yourself, you need to know what the company is looking for.
Arm yourself with responses about how you meet the job requirements and how you would make a great fit for the open position.
Bring extra resumes
With everything online these days, there is a chance that the hiring manager will be looking at your resume on a computer the moment you walk in. But again, it’s always a good idea to show up prepared.
Bring a few extra resumes with you to the interview so you can hand them out to everyone involved in the interviewing process.
Make a list of your positive attributes
Before your interview, think of three skills you want to emphasize. These might include:
- Skills that fit well with requirements listed in the job description
- Past work experiences that you think helped prepare you for this new job
- Other positive attributes about yourself that you want to get across
Be familiar with your best “selling points.” That way, you won’t forget to mention them during the interview.
Turn negatives into positives
There will inevitably come a time when a hiring manager asks if you have experience doing something you have never done. Fortunately, there’s a way to spin this inexperience.
If an interviewer asks if you have Photoshop experience, and you don’t, try emphasizing your other skills — like organization and time management — that shows you’re eager to pick up this new skill quickly and efficiently.
Show excitement about the job
Getting a new job is exciting, so don’t feel shy about letting the hiring manager know that you’re thrilled about the opportunity.
It may seem obvious that you want the job if you’re showing up for an interview, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate that fact so the company knows you’ll show up to work with a great attitude.
Keep your cell phone on silent
You want to communicate respect to the person interviewing you, and part of that is turning off distractions.
If your phone begins ringing, or even vibrating, in the middle of the interview, the hiring manager might think they don’t have your full attention — and begin to question whether they would have it after they hired you.
Speak highly of former employers
Even if you’re interviewing for a new job because you are unsatisfied with your current position, avoid any negative talk about past employers.
Instead, keep it professional by discussing the type of work you did and why you’re interested in the opportunities this new company can provide.
Typically, toward the end of an interview, the hiring manager will ask you if you have questions for them — and you should. This will show you’ve done your homework and you are invested in knowing more about the company.
If you’re struggling to come up with questions, stick to the classics, such as asking about:
- Challenges you may face if you are hired
- What the company culture is like
- What the hiring manager likes the most about working there
- What a typical day in your potential new position would look like
There’s some disagreement about whether the old-school method of sending an actual “thank you” note to a hiring manager is still relevant, but career experts generally recommend at least a “thank you” email.
It doesn’t have to be lengthy: Simply thank the interviewer for their time, reiterate that you are excited about potentially working for the company, and sign off by noting that you hope to hear from them soon.
Whatever your reason for being on the job hunt — even if it’s simply to make more money so you can retire early — arming yourself with knowledge about the company you’re interviewing with, looking your best, and preparing your top selling points can go a long way during the interviewing process.
So, if you are hoping to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck, make sure you put these tips into practice.
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