How to Rock a Job Interview

Job interviews are nerve-wracking. Even if you’ve been through them a hundred times before, if you really want the job that you’re applying for, it’s easy to feel intimidated by the interview process. There’s so much conflicting advice out there about how you should dress, behave, and prepare that it can be difficult to know where to start. Don’t worry: we’re here to help. The interview process may always be nerve-wracking, but with our tips under your belt, you can be sure to rock your next job interview.

Do Your Homework

Potential hiring managers want to know that the person they hired is dedicated to their business. To prove that you will be dedicated, the best thing you can do is know what the business is. Research the company you’re applying to. Check out their latest projects, and try to get an idea of what they stand for. While you should definitely read the job description in full and ensure you know what they’re expecting out of someone in the position you’re applying to, you should also engage with their website so that you know plenty about them as well. If they have a Meet Our Staff page—usually connected in some way to the About Us page—it may even help you put faces to the names you’ve been reading, which can make you a little less nervous come interview day.  

Prepare Answers to Common Questions

One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of a job interview is the impending mystery. You never know exactly what an interviewer might ask. And one of the worst feelings in a job interview is pulling a complete blank when your interviewer asks a question.

Instead of throwing your hands up in the air and thinking, “I can’t possibly prepare for this,” think of the interview more like a test. In high school, you didn’t know exactly what the teachers were going to ask, but you could prepare by studying common topics, and while they might throw you a curve ball or two, you could still be confident that you’d do all right. Job interviews are the same way. You might not know exactly what they’re going to ask, but you know your industry and your experiences, so you can prepare yourself to talk about those. There are even lists online of common interview questions. These are great to use with a friend to mock-interview as you lead up to the big day.

Have a List of Questions to Ask Them

At the end of every job interview, your interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. About the worst thing you can do at that point in the interview is say that you don’t have any questions, as it shows a lack of curiosity and investment in their company. In fact, you should ask 2-3 questions at the end of the interview. However, you should prepare a lot more than that. Sometimes, they’ll answer questions that you had throughout the course of the interview, so you’ll need to go to your B-list—or even C-list—questions. Good questions are open-ended and can’t just be answered with one word—so try “What would a potential day look like in this position?” not “Is it a busy office?”

Don’t Plan Other Activities

You should leave your interview day wide open. It’s impossible to tell how long an interview will go. Some companies only allot a certain amount of time per interview, no matter how well it goes. Other companies plan longer interviews or even invite interviewees out for a meal after the interview is over. You want to be a Yes-man on your interview day, so don’t plan to go out with drinks with a couple of friends after the interview, because then you risk either having to renege on your plans with your friends or having to say no to your interviewers. Instead, plan celebratory activities for the day after your interview.

Dress for Success

This time last year, we wrote a blog post on how to dress for a job interview. The same tenants apply now as then: You should dress in an impressive outfit, being sure to be clean, tidy, and scent-free. You might also consider bringing a professional-looking notebook with you to take your notes in, as well as a pen sleeve with an extra pen in it. These little touches can help you stand out in your interviewer’s eyes as someone professional.

Be Comfortable with Social Expectations

To avoid playing awkward musical chairs when you arrive for your interview, you should go in knowing about certain expectations. For example, you should start and end your interview with a handshake. Because that requires your right hand, you should carry your notebook and anything else you bring with you, in your left hand so that your right hand is free. You should also be prepared to send a thank-you note to your interviewers after the interview.

Be Flexible

Interviews rarely go exactly the way you expect they will. To keep from becoming flustered when you’re asked to do something unexpected or asked a question you weren’t prepared to answer, enter the job interview with an attitude that you’re prepared to roll with the punches. Keep in mind that anything from a late interviewer to a collaborative activity with other interviewees could be a way to test you. Also note that interviewers often check in to see how you interacted with the secretary out front or the doorman, so be prepared to be the best version of yourself from the moment you get on the premises.

Job interviews are an important part of life. Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect, so the more job interviews you go on throughout the course of your career, the more comfortable you’ll be with them. But it’s always good to refresh yourself on how to rock your next job interview.