Preparing for an interview can be overwhelming. The anticipation of the unknown can distract from what you should be doing to prepare. Preparing efficiently is critical to having a successful interview and here are a few tips to ensure the interview is a success.
Dress to impress. You only get one first impression, so make it a good one. Studies have shown that if you dress nicely, you feel more confident and confidence in an interview is key. For a business interview, you want to pressed and neutral. That means you should look clean and groomed, not rushed and messy. Neutral colors (white, tan, or black) or calm colors (blues, green, or soft tones of yellow/pink) are safe colors to wear. Wearing neon or bright colors can be distracting and take a while for the eyes to adjust. Women should wear flats, heels or nice shoes; avoid sandals or worn boots. Men should wear nice shoes, not tennis shoes. Nails should be cut and clean; women should have clean nails or nails completely painted. Having specs of nail polish everywhere does not look as appealing. As culture changes to incorporate casual dress into the workplace, this does not mean you should wear your Casual Friday clothes for an interview. Still dress in business attire, regardless of what you expect your interviewer to be wearing. While these are small details, every detail matters in a first impression.
Along with dressing professional, there are three things you should always bring to an interview: resume, notepad or tablet, and questions. Every time you go to an interview, you should always have at least three copies of your resume. Never assume your interviewer will have your resume on hand or that they remember everything on it. Having it on hand will help your interviewer and show that you prepared. Sometimes you might meet with just one person and other times it could be up to three, so you want to ensure you have enough copies for anyone you might meet. The more prepared you are, the greater your first impression will be.
Always have a notebook or some way to take notes. With that being said, do not write down everything the interviewer says but write down key things that are important or questions you have during the process. This way you can focus on what is being discussed in the moment but refer later to the questions or thoughts you had. Doing this will show them that you are actively listening and are interested. This also benefits you because once the interview is completed, it allows you to reflect on everything that was said and reevaluate on if this is the best fit for you.
Always have questions prepared. In every interview they will ask you if you have any questions. Always ask questions! Not having any questions shows you were not prepared or not interested, whether you are meeting for the first time or the third time, it is critical. If you are meeting more than one person, ask them the same questions. Everyone will give you a different answer which will give you more insight into the company and the people you might be working with. Some example questions you can ask are: what makes someone successful at this position? Do you see any weaknesses in me that might not make me qualified for this position? What is a typical day like? Is there any advice you would give me to ensure long term success in this role? What is the greatest challenge you have overcome since working here? What makes your company unique? These can give more insight into the company and will give you the opportunity to turn what your interviewer might see as a weakness into a positive. You are the best person to sell yourself.
Always be sure to thank the interviewer for taking the time to talk to you. If you receive a business card, send them a follow up email thanking them once again for taking time to talk to you. If you talked to more than one person, make sure you email everyone, not just the most senior professional! The more effort you put in and eagerness you show about the role, the better the interview experience will be for you and the company.