Guest post by Dan Matthews
Prepping for a job interview can be a daunting task. It can be a bit overwhelming tending to appearances, filling out paperwork, doing research, networking, and all of the other elements that go into making that all-important first impression with a company.
If you can take a deep breath, keep your head on straight, and take your preparations one step at a time, you can go into your next interview ready to stand out from the rest of the applicants.
Here are a few of the things you’re going to want to make a priority as you mentally, physically, and emotionally get ready for your next face to face with a hiring manager.
Become a Networking Pro
Networking is a huge part of the interview game. While it’s cute to count on your dependable work performance, stellar grade point average, or pleasant personality to land a quality gig, the truth is, if you can’t network, your chances of landing a job go down the tubes.
The thing is, “networking” means a lot more than just being able to talk to people or having over 500 followers on LinkedIn.
To properly network, you need to find ways to connect with important people within or related to the field where you’re trying to get a job. You can do this by attending business socials or association meetings, joining conversations online, or even reaching out directly via email.
In addition to where you network, there are a number of skills involved in the art of associating with fellow industry professionals.
For instance, one cardinal rule is to never treat people you network with simply as a net positive for yourself. True networking is a two-way street, meaning you need to offer something of value in return for the status and influence you gain through a professional relationship. Whether this comes in the form of providing cutting edge industry information from a more recent education, introducing people within your own network to each other, or even paying for their cup of coffee as a thank you for their time, it’s important to maintain a reciprocal mindset.
It’s also necessary to work on your “soft skills.” These are the interpersonal skills that allow you to interact positively with those around you. Study your body language as well as that of others, learn how to maintain eye contact, enunciate your works, and so on.
When you interact with other people within your network, it’s also critical to provide deep conversation and practice active listening. Don’t just shoot the breeze. Ask meaningful, industry-related questions and then listen to their responses.
There are two angles to the knowledge you want to have when heading into an interview:
- Macro knowledge: broad knowledge about the industry.
- Micro knowledge: specific information about the company you’re applying to.
Macro knowledge can be succinctly summed up in the fact that you want to sound knowledgeable when you’re interacting with your potential future coworkers.
If you head into an interview sounding hesitant and uninformed, you’re likely to make a rather poor impression on the hiring personnel. On the other hand, if you’ve taken the time to look through job listings, studied what your industry is looking for in new applicants, tailored your education to meet needs within your field, and stayed up to date on cutting edge information in the industry, you’re much more likely to exude confidence and impress interviewers.
As far as micro knowledge is concerned, you never want to go into an interview sounding like you’ve never heard of the company before. It’s as simple as that. Always take time to research a company, it’s personnel, history, focus, mission statement, and more before you sit down at the interview.
Keep Your Interview Documents Organized
This may seem like a no brainer, but there are a lot of different pieces of information that go into the application process.
From CVs and resumes to portfolios, proof of academic qualifications, extracurricular certifications, and so on, it’s important to make sure you’ve got everything easily accessible and well organized. You don’t want to hold up the hiring process simply because you’re scrambling to get a document in the right format or, heaven forbid, create it in the first place.
Take the time to organize and collect all of your documents and files into one space. If they’re scattered over multiple computers, transfer all of the data into one, easy to access location.
Finally, yes, appearances really do matter. Obviously, the way you come across is going to seriously impact an interviewer’s initial opinion of you. But that’s not all. There’s also the fact that the way you dress can impact your own opinion of yourself. Dressing in colors and clothing that help you feel positive about yourself can be a huge confidence booster.
Apart from your clothing, you’re also going to want to make sure that you go into each interview groomed to perfection. If you’re a man, make sure you’re freshly shaven or your beard is neatly brushed and oiled. Tend to puffy eyes, rogue hairs, and make sure you’ve put on antiperspirant deodorant.
Nailing the Interview
There’s more to a good interview than simply throwing on some nice clothes, spraying yourself down with your favorite fragrance, giving yourself a quick pep talk in the mirror, and then heading out the door.
You want to take the time beforehand to prepare. Research the industry and company you interview at, network until you drop, stay organized and on top of your documents and information, and keep that appearance sharp as a tack. If you can keep yourself pulled together, chances are you’ll be able to nail each and every interview you go into.
Author Bio: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture. You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.