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Advice for Job Seekers: How to Interview Well

You have your cover letter and your resume written, polished and ready to go. Now you just need to brush up on your interview skills. Many people consider the interview the most nerve-racking part of the job search process. The days leading up to the interview are often filled with a mixture of excitement that you got called in the first place and anxiety that you’ll flop in the moment. The good news is that you can implement strategies in your interview that will set you up for success. Here we’ll explore some tried-and-true interview tips that will help you shine.

Before the Interview

Instead of using the days before the interview to worry, use them to prepare yourself. Research the company or organization in depth, delving into its mission and business philosophy, how its various departments are structured and who comprises its leadership team. This way you can more easily share with the interviewer what attracted you to the company, how your values line up with its goals and why you’re a good fit for both the job and the business. If you are unfamiliar with the organization’s industry, study up on that. Consider exploring the company’s competitors to learn additional information about the market.

Read over the job description several times and make sure you fully understand the position for which you’re applying. Spend an ample amount of time formulating your response to the question of how your education and work experience translate to your future job responsibilities. This is especially important if you are changing industries. Be prepared to elaborate on your management and leadership styles.

Another way to prepare yourself for an interview is to conduct an Internet search for common interview questions and have a friend or family member ask you practice ones. Although you will never know exactly what to expect in an interview, you can at least prepare yourself for some of the most common questions. You can even film your behavior during the mock interview to see whether you are satisfied with your answers and body language. Finally, prepare a brief list of questions to ask the interviewer.

Interview Attire

For men, a contemporary suit and tie is standard interview attire for most MBA careers, unless your interviewer tells you otherwise. For women, a pantsuit or skirt suit is appropriate. For a more casual interview, dress pants and a collared, long-sleeved button-down shirt should be chosen. Long-sleeved shirts are considered less casual than short-sleeved ones for both men and women. You should have your interview attire pressed or tailored if necessary to ensure you look crisp. Nothing you wear should be ill-fitting, torn or dragging on the ground. Women should take care to dress modestly, avoiding low-cut blouses, skirts higher than the knee, tight or sheer clothing, spike heels or tops that ride up to reveal the midriff or lower back. Women should also avoid flashy jewelry and brightly colored fingernails. Men and women should cover any visible tattoos, remove any facial piercings, avoid extreme haircuts and choose closed-toe shoes. Sandals and sneakers are never appropriate for an interview. A haircut the week of the interview, particularly for men, is a good idea. Aim to look polished and well groomed.

During the Interview

Walk into an interview with several copies of your resume on hand and a portfolio of your work, if necessary. Begin by greeting the interviewer or team with a warm smile and a friendly handshake. When the questions begin, maintain eye contact with the interviewer, lean forward and listen carefully to what is being asked. Take care that you do not slouch or let your mind wander. Do not be afraid to ask the interviewer to clarify or repeat a question you are unsure about. Avoid fidgeting, particularly tapping your fingers on the table, as this indicates to the interviewer that you are bored or in a hurry to leave. Sell yourself to the interview team by elaborating on your strengths as they can be applied to the position you’re seeking. Avoid discussing salary information until after you have been selected for the position.

After the Interview

Any time you interview for a position, immediately send a note to the person(s) you spoke with, thanking them for their interest in you and expressing your continued interest in the position and the company. After a week’s time has passed, it is appropriate to politely follow up on the interview and ask about your status for the position, unless the interviewer has directed you to do otherwise.