Any mention of the term ‘job interview’ and you might find your palms sweating and your heart beginning to race. The good news is you aren’t alone. According to a study of 1,000 working men and women, 92 percent reported being nervous about job interviews, whether it was general anxiety, fear of being unprepared, or fear of being late. It’s okay to be a little nervous about a job interview, but knowing what to expect and being prepared are good ways to lower those interview jitters.
Do Your Homework
“Tell me what you know about us.” Your mind immediately goes blank and you realize that, in all your preparation, you forgot to research the company. You know they are a marketing firm, but an answer like that certainly won’t suffice. So, what should you know? While you don’t need to be able to name every employee, knowing the key players, such as the president and/or CEO, won’t hurt. Brush up on the company culture, mission, and values, and make sure you are up to speed on clients, products, services, and any recent company news. Put the information you find on a notecard, and review it daily leading up to the interview. If you can, avoid providing a canned response. You want to sound as natural as possible and show that you have researched enough to explain what you know about the company without sounding like you’re reading off their website.
Prepare for Questions
The key piece of the interview is the questions, and for many people this is the most dreaded and nerve-wracking part of the entire job-search process. It is important that you look up potential questions before the interview so you can practice your answers to both the easy and tough ones. This will also help you avoid a situation where you freeze up and provide an answer that doesn’t adequately answer the question or convey what you really wanted to say. You should also be aware of inappropriate questions, such as anything about race, marital status, children, disabilities, and religion.
Dress to Impress
What you say in the interview is important, but what you wear says a lot about your degree of professionalism, too. To start, scope out the company website and social media pages to get an idea of what is typically worn to the office. However, just because it seems super casual doesn’t mean you should show up in your comfiest sweatpants. Casual attire could be dark jeans, a knee-length skirt, or slacks with a blouse, cardigan, or button down. Business casual is dressier, and could mean dress pants, a pencil skirt, or slacks with a button down, jacket, blazer, or tie. Women have the added step of determining what to do with hair, nails, and makeup. Hair should be sleek and kempt; it is best to pull it back in a bun or ponytail so you aren’t tempted to play with it. Makeup should be natural, as should your nails, so leave the crazy colors and glitter for another day.
Bring the Right Swag
You might think you are on the right track by simply arriving on time to the job interview, but have you brought along the essentials? In order to secure the interview, you probably already sent your resume and references. Many interviewers will bring a copy to the interview, but a few extras won’t hurt. Plus, it’s a good place to jot down important information, such as directions and contact info. Be sure to bring a list of questions you’d like to ask the interviewer, including ones about the day-to-day responsibilities, job expectations, company culture, top competitors, and career trajectory. This is not the time to ask about salary, as this is something that should only be discussed in the final steps of the job interview process when you meet with the hiring manager or someone from human resources. However, the end of the interview is an appropriate time to ask about how to follow up.
Job interviews are a source of anxiety for many people, but don’t let your fear keep you from acing it. The key is to be as prepared as possible. Research the company, practice your interview answers, wear the right attire, and bring the essentials. All that’s left is to be yourself and put your best foot forward!