Okay, maybe spooky isn’t quite the right word, but interviews can be really intimidating if you’re not prepared. It’s your single opportunity to make a good first impression on your potential employer. You whole, entire career rests with an interviewer who will decide in the first few minutes whether or not they like you. That might be a tad dramatic. But it’s still a stressful experience for most people. Fortunately, with a little preparation, you can diffuse some of your anxiety and make interviewing less spooky.
Map it out
Yes, as in the actual route to the interview. Nothing will stress you out more than if you’re running late and fighting traffic. Look up directions well in advance and do a practice run. Aim to be early, not just on time! Account for things like traffic, bad weather, and car accidents that might slow you down. Punctuality is impressive. Being too early is a good thing—sit in your car for a few minutes and practice your answers. Lateness, even for a very legitimate reason, is a major turn-off! Hiring managers want to know that they’re hiring someone who’s reliable and who will show up for work on time.
Rehearse your answers
And not just your answers, but the questions you’ll ask at the end of the interview. The more you practice the more confident you’ll feel and the more natural (less robotic and awkward you’ll feel). Don’t memorize canned responses, of course—that sounds lame. Just have the first part of your answers prepared, so you can begin answering and not sound like a bumbling blowhard who’s never reflected on their career and life goals before. You never know when your nerves will overtake you and make your mind go blank or tie your tongue! If you’ve rehearsed, you’ll sound composed and relaxed, instead of nervous and flustered.
Lay out your clothes
You’ll feel more confident when you look (and smell) your best! Lay out your outfit well in advance and try it on so that you know it fits well. Do some research to find out what the common dress code is at the company and then try to do one better. If it’s business casual, for example, aim to wear a suit. No short skirts or revealing necklines and no holes or t-shirts or large, distracting jewelry. Make sure your hygiene and grooming is stellar and don’t forget deodorant. If you opt to wear perfume or cologne, make sure the odor isn’t too strong. You never know whether your interviewer will be allergic or sensitive to smell.
Turn off the phone
Some of these tips seem like no-brainers, but hiring managers and interviewers still complain about them, so we have to remind you. First, keep your cell-phone off. Silent is good, too, but off is better. You’d hate to be that classic interviewer who’s fumbling around, claiming “I thought it was on silent!”
Know the personnel
Next repeat names out loud as you’re introduced to people so you don’t forget them. In fact, if you can, find out who you’re interviewing with ahead of time and do a little research on them. No need to stalk or anything, but it helps if you know their title and role at the company. You might find that you have something in common—you’re from the same town or you went to the same college—something that will solidify your bond and make you more memorable as they consider candidates.
Avoid certain topics
Which brings me to my next point: things NOT to talk about. Don’t talk about religion or politics or your old boss. Strong opinions on one side or the other are red flags to most interviewers. And at the moment, even conversations about mask mandates and the vaccine can be triggering, so unless they’re telling you about their covid policies, avoid the topic! And lastly, don’t discuss specifics about salary until the potential employer brings it up.
Bring the goods
Some employers will ask for your paperwork already. It might mean a completed application, a resume, a list of references, or a cover letter. Whatever they ask for, bring it. Don’t give them an unnecessary reason to cross you off their short list!
For more ways to make interviewing less spooky, check out our website at https://www.chiefofstaffkc.com.
Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh