Whether you’re newly graduated college student now entering the work force or you’re looking to find another job or change career paths, one thing is for sure, getting the first job interview is a tough task. What’s even tougher is finding ways to stand out among the other candidates. After a while, resumes all begin to blend in. Most employers are going to be looking for a certain level of education, work experience and set of skills. It is the interviewing process that allows candidates to show who they really are and it is the opportunity to set yourself apart from the rest.
Here are just a few first job interview tips that can help set you apart from the rest.
Come Prepared. Being prepared by far one of the best things you can do to impress the people that you’re interviewing with. Preparing yourself before the interview isn’t just about knowing everything there is to know and say about you. It’s equally as important to be prepared about the company, industry and position that you’re interviewing with. It’s very helpful for you to know what kind of culture the company you are interviewing with has, so that you can determine the appropriate interview attire (although a great rule of thumb is to always over-dress rather than under-dress). Knowing any particular news about the company and being able to show the interviewers that you have taken the time to learn a bit more about what they do will go a long way!
Ask Questions. Just as interviewers are going to come prepared with some standard questions that they’re asking all of the candidates that they are interviewing, you should prepare some questions of your own beforehand (and even while you’re interviewing). This is not only great at demonstrating your interest in the position, but it also helps keep a dialogue going. Some great questions to ask: “What kind of training will I be receiving once I start this position?”, “What kind of opportunities for growth or development have others within the company experienced?”, and “What is the next step in the interview process?”.
First Interview “No-No’s”. There are some standards for first interview etiquette that should always be observed whenever possible. Here are just a handful of them:
- Always be prompt. Show up 10 minutes before your interview (unless instructed otherwise). Don’t show up too early, which may rush your interviewers and inconvenience them.
- Bring multiple copies of your resume
- Bring a list of professional references
- Don’t bring up salary or benefit negotiations in first interview discussions. These are usually saved for second interviews or when you’re offered the position.
- Overdress vs Underdress. Nobody has ever been denied a job because they looked “too nice” at their job interview. Don’t overdo the perfume or cologne and women should not wear clothing that may be considered too provocative.
Follow Up. On your way out, find out if you can get a business card for the person or persons you interviewed with. When asking questions, you should find out the timeframe for when they will be making a decision and what the next step would be from here. Depending on the timeframe for when they will be making hiring decisions, you may wish to send a hand-written thank you card or an e-mail thanking the interviewer for their time and consideration and remind them of some key strengths for why you should be considered for the position. This type of follow up is a great way to set yourself apart from the other prospective candidates.
Relax. Last, but certainly not least, one of the hardest things to do in job interviewing situations… RELAX. Think of a job interview as just an opportunity to talk to another human being, just like yourself, about the jobs you’ve worked and the skills and educational background that you have. Nothing more, nothing less. The more you can relax, be yourself, allow the interview to be more interactive and a 2-way discussion, the more you can allow the interviewer to get to know you in the short amount of time spent with you.
In the end, remind yourself that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so in the end, it’s more important that beyond just “acing” an interview and landing a job, it’s important that you find a job that suits you, challenges you (both personally and professionally) and is one that will create meaning and purpose in your life. Good luck and stand out!
This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Mid & Northern Michigan, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Mid & Northern Michigan. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.