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What to Do Before, During and After Your Job Interview

You got an interview – now what? Read our top tips for prepping for and acing your job interview.

You did it! You made it past the application phase and scored a job interview. Walking into the office and sitting in the hot seat can seem nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be. Doing a little prep work beforehand and understanding what to do during and after the interview can set your mind at ease and help you appear more calm and confident. Try these tips to ace your next interview.

Before the Interview

1. Read the Job Description Closely
It’s essential to know as much as you can about the job and its accompanying duties. The job description encompasses the crucial functions of the position, and it’s important to be up to speed when it’s time to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of those functions. Knowing the job requirements can also help you figure out how your own experience aligns with the position, making it easier to answer questions from the interviewer.

2. Have a Handle on the Company
It’s equally important to learn about the company and its culture so you can reflect your knowledge while interviewing. Check out the company website, LinkedIn Company Pages and individual profiles to find out everything you can beforehand. What does the company do? How is it organized? Does it have a mission statement? Who is in charge? Additionally, knowing about a company’s goals and mission can help you figure out if the company is a good fit for you.

3. Figure Out Why You’re Likeable
Your interviewer wants to know you in addition to your experience and skills. Companies hire a person, not just a fancy resume. What makes you stand out? You’ll seem more relatable if you share small tidbits about your life, from where you went to school to the adorable kitten you just adopted. Making personal connections can sometimes make you more memorable than your impressive GPA can.

4. Practice Professionalism
From how you’re dressed to the way you answer questions, putting a professional foot forward is one of the easiest ways to impress potential employers. Practice your genuine smile, firm handshake and eye contact before stepping foot into the interview. Your speech should be relaxed but relatively formal – try to avoid “like” and “um” as much as possible – and think about how the things you say would represent this company to the general public.

During the Interview

1. Don’t Talk Money
Asking about compensation or salary can seem like a good idea, but it’s generally not appropriate at the first interview. The initial interview is an opportunity to explore the role, cultural fit and career progression opportunities, says Eliza Kirkby, regional director of recruitment company Hays Australia. Jumping right into the money conversation could make you seem presumptuous and motivated only by a paycheck.

2. Ask Questions
Going into an interview without questions can make you seem disinterested or unprepared. Interviewing is a two-way street, writes top interview coach Pamela Skillings. A potential employer asks questions to get to know you and learn about your skills, while you ask questions to find out more about the position, your potential boss and the company to ensure the job is a good fit. Ask questions throughout the interview that show your interest in the position, as well as the interviewer and the company. Try a few easy ones on for size. What will first 30 days on the job look like? What do you like most about working for this company? How do I compare with the other candidates you’ve interviewed for this role?

3. Be Authentic
While being professional at any interview is a priority, coming off as inauthentic or trying too hard to keep your guard up won’t do you any favors. Interviewers want to know a thing or two about you so they can get a feel for who you are and figure out if they can handle working with you on a daily basis. Be friendly and personable, and reveal just a little personal information about yourself to help the interviewer relate to you.

4. Tell a Good Story
By turning an answer to a behavioral question into a memorable story about a past work experience, you can show the interviewer the real you while still showcasing how well you respond to certain situations. When answering, always provide context, explain your role in the situation and make the lesson clear while sharing the results, writes The Muse’s Kat Boogaard. If you’re sharing a story about a mistake, always take ownership for the way things turned out.

5. Let the Company Know What You Can Offer
When discussing why you’re interested in this particular job, be sure to share the unique knowledge and skills you bring to the position instead of just talking about what you can take away from it. Let the interviewer know how you can benefit the organization by sharing what missing piece you bring to the table or what problem you can help them solve.

After the Interview

Follow up with a Formal Thank-You
Even if you think you nailed it, it’s important to write a thank-you note or email that shows sincere appreciation to your interviewers and highlights the qualities that would make you a great fit for the position. Be sure to gather business cards or names of the people who you talk to while interviewing, including receptionists and assistants. While handwritten thank-you notes can stand out more, be sure to finish and send them within the first 24 hours after the interview.

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