Going to a job interview is always stressful: we can’t pretend not to care whether we’ll get the job or not, so there is a lot of pressure. But the most pressure always comes from the very first interview. Being in the corporate world for a while, I’ve been to plenty of interviews and have interviewed some people myself, and there really are some rules that should be followed, no matter what job you are applying for or how important getting the job is to you.
Research the company
If you are sitting at a job interview and the person interviewing you asks whether you’ve heard of a certain project that the company is doing, there are three possible outcomes depending on your answer. First, there is a good outcome where you know at least the basics about it. Second, there’s a bad outcome where you haven’t heard about it. Finally, the worst outcome is the one where you lie about knowing about it, and they figure it out. Often people apply for a lot of jobs at once and go to many interviews, but if you don’t take the time to prepare for each of them, it will show. The lack of knowledge about the company, its mission and its projects will make you come across as uninterested in the position you’re applying for.
Being honest is crucial during job interviews for multiple reasons. The person conducting the interview will know whether you are a good fit for the position, but it will also prevent you from being stuck with a job that you are under- or over- qualified to do. Talk about your experiences in the past, what you have learned from them, and give some actual examples for everything you say. Try to mention the company’s mission and how you hope to contribute to it. If the interviewer asks you a question, take a few seconds to come up with an answer before you start talking, but don’t take too long or it might seem like you are making up a story.
Dress to impress
Every company has a different dress code, and it is very important to follow the saying: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. Even if you are applying for a position that doesn’t require you to dress professionally, showing up in a professional attire will only increase your chances of getting the job. For my first interview, I was applying to be a cashier at a local supermarket, yet I wore a pair of grey trousers, a professional blouse I borrowed from my mother’s wardrobe and the one pair of formal shoes that I had. I wore minimal makeup, tied my hair up to look more pleasant and friendly, and wore my favorite watch from The Watch Shop to show that I am a punctual person. The lady interviewing me was surprised when she saw me dressed like that, and the first thing she said to 17-year-old me was – “you look like you could be the boss here someday”.
Some other important things to remember are to show up on time (preferably 10 minutes early), speak with confidence, be careful with the words you use, bring a copy of your CV just in case ( but don’t pull it out unless they ask for it), and always greet everyone with a firm handshake. The biggest throw-offs are when people look shy and insecure, when they lie about something, or when they are sucking up to the interviewer too much. Remember that first impressions are very important, but if you just relax and tell your story the way it is, you will have no problem landing the job you want.