Find out about the organization you are interviewing. Part of the interview is the chance for the candidate to interview the interviewer, meaning they should have lots of questions ready so they can gain as much information for the interview.
As well as this, presentation is very important - do not dress overboard, but a tidy suit and basic makeup/hair styling always looks professional.
One thing I tend to do whilst interviewing is ask a question that I know a candidate will lie about - whether they are looking for a job for money, for example (who isn't!) - and then take note of their reaction - this can help you understand if they are lying to later questions. Not being honest is by far the most damaging thing a candidate can do during an interview - despite the fact that they think the interviewer won't notice, we are tuned to things like twitches, redness in the ears and face, subtle voice changes and odd body language!
I was a supervisor at a state agency for many years and hired about 15 individuals during that time. The most important advice I can give to someone interviewing for a job is to thoroughly prepare by doing some research on the company they are interviewing with.
I had a few individuals who did not even know what our agency did, which shows that they did not even bother to look at our website. So, at the very least, look at the website of the company you are interviewing for.
Note from Lisa: Please see the article Research a Company for tips on doing good company research.
Try to find job descriptions for the job you are interviewing for so that you can anticipate what types of questions might be asked.
Prepare some intelligent questions to ask your interviewers because at the end of the interview, they will inevitably ask you whether you have any questions. In no way should your questions be about salary or vacation time. Save those types of questions for after you have been offered the job.
Make sure you arrive early enough to go into the restroom before the interview to check yourself in the mirror, especially if it is a windy or rainy day, or if your interview is scheduled for right after lunch. You would not want to go through the interview with your hair out of place or food stuck between your teeth.
Most importantly, try to remain calm during the interview. Breathe - It will be over soon enough, hopefully resulting in a job offer.
At my last place of employment, I often interviewed potential candidates due to a frequent vacancy in our Human Resources Department. My main duty was to narrow the candidates down to a reasonable number that the hiring supervisor could accommodate in her schedule to conduct interviews.
There are a number of ways a candidate can be successful at an interview. I think being prepared is first and foremost. Think of various questions a potential employer would ask you and practice your responses to those questions.
Be prepared to explain gaps in employment history or the nature of why you are seeking to leave your current employer. Being prepared leaves very little to be nervous about and sharpens your focus when it comes to interviewing.
Showing a genuine interest and enthusiasm about the job is also a plus in a potential employer's eyes.
Candidates often shoot themselves in the foot without realizing in. No interviewer wants the interview dominated by the candidate. I've experienced this several times. If the interviewer has to constantly redirect or interrupt you, tone it down.
Another no-no is coming in to the interview with an "I don't care" attitude. Granted you don't need to act desperate for the job, but show some interest. It makes the interviewer feel like it's a waste of time if you don't show interest.
While we'd like to think appearance doesn't matter, the fact is, it does. Come in dressed in business attire. Don't come in jeans and sneakers unless you can legitimately explain why you did so. Make up should be tasteful (not too much). Don't overdo colognes or perfumes, as you never know whether the interviewer is sensitive to fragrances.
There are a number of common mistakes that would eliminate a candidate from being selected to interview altogether. The first is poor grammar and bad spelling on the resume or application. Another would be having an employment history where the most amount of time at one employer is less than six months. Being vague on the application or providing an incomplete application will surely mean you won't get called to interview.
I have been conducting job interviews for a manufacturing company for twelve years. Punctuality and appearance are two big issues for me.
If you arrive late for the interview, chances are pretty good that getting to work on time might also be a problem. I do understand that sometimes situations occur that are beyond our control. If this is the case, please have the courtesy to call and explain.
When conducting an interview, I'm not interested in what label your shirt has on it, or if you are sporting the latest hair style. I realize that a person's ability to do a job is most important, but if that person appears to not take pride in his or her appearance, such as combing their hair or putting on a clean shirt, he or she will probably not put much pride into their work. I'm not looking for perfection, I'm looking for effort.
One other thing to remember is try to refrain from criticizing former employers. You may have a legitimate complaint about a former supervisor or boss, but airing it out to your potential new employer doesn't sit well. Right or wrong, it can just make you look like a complainer.
Over 25 years, I have interviewed programmers, analysts, technicians, managers, and help desk staff for various positions in higher education. The best applicants did the following:
1. Found out what the organization where they applying does.
This allowed applicants to better understand the questions the interviewer asked, lets the person get a handle on questions they wanted to ask about the company, and enabled the applicant to demonstrate interest.
2. They were prepared to discuss their experience in terms relative to the hiring organization.
Doing so shows that he/she cared enough to find out about the organization to begin with, that he/she understood what the interviewer was looking for, and that the applicant was adept enough to craft responses to the purpose at hand.
3. Focused intently on questions asked in order to give cogent replies.
It is okay to take time to formulate a reply before answering, but replying with information that is tangential to the question suggests to the interviewer that the applicant may not listen closely or is trying to "shoehorn" experience to fit what the organization needs.
4. Respect the organization
That means dressing appropriately for the interview and being polite.
5. Always remember that interviewers are looking for potential as well as basic skills required for the immediate position.
It is possible for applicants to seem as if they would be okay for a position, but lack the interest or "spark" that would help an organization progress through their extra effort.
The worst things an applicant can do are be unqualified for the position, appear lackadaisical in manner or answers, or dress sloppily for the position in question.
It is very important to come off as a likable person at your job interview. Although you want to make sure you are very professional, that you dress appropriately, and what not, if you come across as a person who could be difficult to work with, you will struggle to find work.
During my career as an Assistant Manager at a retail store, I did my fair share of reviewing candidates and interviewing candidates for a position. In that situation, qualifications were not very important, since it was not a very specialized field. However, we still had a number of candidates who came across as people who would be difficult to work with, and no one wants to employ someone like that.
To avoid seeming negative, I advise you to not complain or be too aggressive. If you do call to follow up, do not call more than once. Keep in mind that managers are busy people, so if you do get an interview, be patient if they ask you to wait a few minutes. Do chat with other employees before your interview…they typically will tell the manager their opinion of you, so you want to make sure that it is a good one.
Melissa, you are so right. Personality is often a huge deciding factor when employers are hiring new staff.
Once employers have determined that a candidate has the basic requirements to do the job, personality becomes very important. Employers feel they can teach someone a lot of job related tasks, but they can't easily teach someone to have a good attitude toward work, so any hint of negativity can cause candidates to lose out on a job opportunity.