Job Interviewing Tips

You did it! The hard work of completing your qualification is behind you, and you’ve been invited to your first job interview in your chosen profession. This is what you’ve been working for, and along with excitement, you may be feeling a bit anxious or uncertain.

Job interviews can be stressful, but with preparation, you can be successful. At IKON, we care about our students and are dedicated to helping you feel prepared. The following tips can help you make a great first impression and land your dream job.

Tip #1: Do Your Research

You probably provided a resume or filled out an application in order to get this interview. Make sure that you arrive for your interview knowing as much about the company and the job you’ve applied for as they know about you. You can find lots of helpful information online. Check the organisation’s website and social media pages. Focus on the mission or purpose statement, size and structure, and any current news or initiatives.

If a job description for the position is available, make sure you are very familiar with it. A job description provides the specific skills and qualifications they are looking for. Reviewing this prepares you to speak to which skills and qualifications make you the best fit for this job. It also allows you to think about any areas that you might not be as experienced in, and to prepare a response.

Tip #2: Practice

Have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview. A quick search online can provide you with sample questions. Make your practice session as realistic as possible. Dress like you would for the real interview, sit at a formal table, and anything else that will make the interview feel real. Practicing is helpful to work through initial nerves, focus your thinking, and see how you will perform under pressure.

Tip #3: A Great First Impression

Making a strong first impression starts with your resume, any initial phone or email contact, and even with what you are wearing at the interview. Make sure that every contact portrays you as professional, organised, and passionate. Your resume needs to be visually pleasing and free of errors. If you have provided your phone number or email address, make sure your voicemail greeting and email signature line are professional. See our previous Career Corner article about your online image, and be sure that your social media presence is also professional and polished.

How you look and present yourself in person is an important part of your first impression. Dress appropriately for the work environment. A good tip is to wear something subtle, that will not attract attention – either for being too flashy or for being too sloppy. It is also important to remember to make eye contact, smile and show confidence, and don’t forget to turn off your mobile phone!

Tip #4: Be Yourself

An interview is a place for both a potential employer and employee to determine if their skills and needs are a good fit. One way to take some of the pressure off of yourself is to remind yourself that a job interview is really a conversation. While landing a job is great, you actually want the job to be a good fit for you as well. Be honest about your skills and experiences. Often, a desire to learn and an excitement for an organisation’s mission are even more attractive to a potential employer than a long resume. And remember those skills that you learned to make you a great listener and good helper? Those are the same skills that will go far in an interview: make eye contact, listen well, ask good questions, and be engaged.

Tip #5: Be Specific

When you don’t have a lot of job experience, it can be challenging to know how to give great responses that highlight your abilities. Before your interview, spend time thinking about 3-4 stories that highlight skills that you want to share. These stories should describe a situation with a problem or challenge, an example of what action you took, and what the results of that action were. Having some ideas in advance will help you to respond to specific questions in the moment.

Tip #6: Be Positive

Even if you feel the interview isn’t going well, or if you have difficult things from your past to explain, it is important to stay positive during the interview. Never badmouth past employers, teachers, or coworkers. If you have had a difficult time finding work and are frustrated, focus instead on your excitement for your new career. Keep the interview upbeat by smiling and maintaining enthusiasm throughout.

Tip #7: Ask Questions

You may have heard that it is important to come prepared with questions for the interviewers at the end of an interview. This is true. However, it is also often okay to ask questions during the interview as well. If you are not sure you understand a question, need more time, or want more information about something, go ahead and ask! If you get a poor response, or are specifically told to save questions for the end, then do so. But asking questions keeps the interview conversational and shows that you are interested and engaged.

Tip #8: Follow up

The interview is over. The next day, you have one final step. Set yourself apart by sending a personal note or email to the person who conducted the interview. Thank them for their time, and highlight once again why you are a good fit for the position. This will demonstrate your continued interest, your conscientiousness, and your ability to follow though. All good skills that any employer would love to have.