How To Make a Good Impression in a Job Interview
When it comes to getting a job, interviewing may seem like a secondary concern compared to your skills and education. However, the impression you make during an interview is extremely important because recruiters often use that opportunity to assess who you are and how seriously you take the job opportunity.
Employers often want to feel confident that you will be a reliable employee and a good fit for the company as much as they want to know your credentials. Fortunately, there are some basic steps you can take to significantly improve your interview game, whether the process comes naturally to you or not.
The best way to appear well put together is to actually be well put together. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for the interview. It will likely not only result in some oversights on your part, but may also add to your stress as you try to rehearse key information and talking points.
Complete tasks such as doing preemptive research and choosing your interview outfit well in advance. Then run through a quick review of important details shortly before the actual interview. This will help you more successfully retain important information, prevent last-minute mishaps, and boost your confidence.
Know What Position You’re Interviewing For
It is important to both have knowledge relevant to job performance in your desired position, and to understand what the position entails. Some simple ways you can convey this knowledge base to the recruiter include the following:
- Provide concrete examples of relevant education and experience. Discuss any education or experience you have in your background that relates to the duties that you would be expected to perform in your desired role. For example, if you are applying for a marketing position, you could mention the outreach you worked on for a charity.
- Actively demonstrate your knowledge. Make it clear that you understand key concepts in the course of the conversation. For example, you may want to use terminology specific to the field.
- Ask good questions. Ask questions that showcase your existing knowledge and show an interest in learning more. For example, you could mention you noticed that experience with a certain software was a desired quality for the position, and ask how that software would be utilized in your day-to-day work.
Research the Company You’re Interviewing With
You will also want to demonstrate knowledge about the company itself and its operations. This will further reinforce how serious you are about pursuing this position, and your interest in the company. Effective strategies for demonstrating this knowledge are similar to those described above: conversational evidence of your knowledge base and emphasis through calculated questions. The following are some examples of questions that could convey your knowledge and interest regarding company matters during an interview:
- “I notice [the company] has expanded over the past few years. What new directions do you expect the business to take, if any?”
- “You commonly collaborate with other companies. What sort of companies do you typically work with in terms of industry, size, etc.?”
- “How does this company set itself apart from the rest of its industry?”
However, while such questions are usually appreciated, it is important to make it evident that they are coming from a place of interest and excitement. You do not want to seem as though you are grilling the interviewer.
Find the Interviewer on LinkedIn
It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the interviewer themselves if possible. A good resource for this is LinkedIn. Their LinkedIn profile (if they have one) can give you a good idea of their credentials and what to expect.
Look Good and Dress Appropriately
A neat appearance tells the interviewer that you are a person who knows how to present themselves in a professional environment. It also tells them that you are taking the interview seriously enough to put a lot of time and effort into your appearance. The following are some basic steps you can take to dress appropriately and otherwise prepare your appearance for your interview:
- Practice basic hygiene (bathe, use deodorant, brush your teeth, etc.);
- Consider a haircut;
- Groom your hair;
- Trim your nails;
- Keep accessories, makeup, nail polish, etc. subtle;
- Choose well-fitting clothing with no signs of wear;
- Wash your clothing;
- Iron your clothing;
- Use a lint roller;
- Take the time to dress neatly.
It is important to consider the position you are applying for when choosing your clothing, accessories, etc. for the interview. Just as it would be a mistake to wear sweatpants to almost any interview, it would also be a bit off-base to wear a 3-piece suit to interview for a position as a cashier at a grocery store. The idea is to look tidy and professional.
Furthermore, you should consider what the expectations for traditional professionalism are. Although some level of professionalism is expected for most jobs, some positions are more casual than others. For example, it would generally not be a good move to display extensive tattooing, use bold accessories, or wear any non-business attire to apply for a job at a legal firm, but those items may be fine for an interview at a comic shop.
While it is important to keep these notes in mind, don’t stress yourself out by over-thinking it. Just focus on keeping yourself clean and tidy. Keep in mind that some self-care issues may take more than the morning-of to address, such as recurring skincare problems (like breakouts) or a receding hairline. If items like these are a concern for you, there are some long-term steps you can take to prepare for future interviews, such as the regular use of a skincare routine, or the application of hair growth products.
Prepare for Common Interview Questions
There are certain questions that are commonly asked in interviews, and it will be helpful to prepare for some of these. These include:
- “What are your strengths/weaknesses?”
- “Where did you hear about our company/this position?”
- “How did you solve an instance of conflict at your previous job?”
Practicing your responses to such questions can help you feel more confident during the interview. However, it should also be noted that the interviewer likely expects you to be nervous, and it is not the end of the world if you hesitate or misspeak occasionally. Your preparation should bolster your confidence, rather than undermine it.
As much as there are some widely-accepted “rules” to follow during an interview, you also want to leave a strong impression and set yourself apart from other candidates. To this end, you should show some of your personality and unique perspectives. Furthermore, there is some contradictory advice out there on how to behave in an interview. So, when in doubt, follow your best judgment and do what feels right to you.
Follow Up After the Interview
Following up after the interview can show the company how interested you are in the position, and prevent you from getting lost in the shuffle. However, you do not want to be too aggressive in your follow-up either. Calling or emailing every day, for example, may be too much. Once a week or so is a more appropriate time frame. Follow-up is also a great idea if the company has not contacted you by the time they said they would.