It varies in the industry, but the average number of applicants for a job in the U.S. in 2016 was 52. For many companies, it’s much more than that, which means it’s important to create a resume that stands out so you can move on to the next “round” of the hiring process; the interview.
Only about 20% of applicants to a job will move on in the process to get interviewed. While it can be a confidence booster knowing your skills and experience stood out on your resume, the interview process is even more important. It allows you to show the company who you really are and what you can offer while giving you the opportunity to learn more about the business you’re interested in.
So, how can you make sure your job interview is a success? How can you convince the company that’s hiring that you will contribute something unique and add value? Let’s look at a few ways you can prepare for your next job interview and nail it.
Do Your Research and Ask Questions
Once you’ve been called in for an interview, do your research on the company. What are their hiring practices? What is their mission statement? What do they stand for? When doing your research, you might be able to get a better understanding of the questions you might be asked during the interview.
Some questions might be more straightforward, but you might also be asked some behavioral questions that give you more of an opportunity to speak and create a narrative. This gives the employer a chance to learn more about you and what you might do in specific situations.
As you’re preparing, it’s a good idea to write down some questions of your own that you have about the business. They can be specific to the description of the job, or more general questions, like:
• What are some challenges you’d hope I could jump in on?
• What type of projects would I be working on within the first year?
• What helps your best employees truly stand out/deliver?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions that will prompt your interviewer to answer with longer narratives of their own. It will give you a better idea if you’re the right person for the job.
Look the Part
It’s obviously important what you say during an interview. But, it’s equally important how you present yourself both with what you wear and your overall demeanor. Research has shown that 55% of first impressions are made based on your appearance. The old phrase “dress for success” really rings true when it comes to an interview.
You can learn more about how you should dress when you do your company research, and match your outfit to the company culture. Not every business carries a suit and tie policy. If it’s a more casual company and you show up in a suit, you might not fit the part.
But, if business casual is the company’s standard and you show up in a t-shirt and jeans, you’re likely not going to make a good first impression. Be comfortable enough in what you wear so you don’t appear stiff and unnatural, but make sure your outfit is appropriate for the business’s setting.
When you’re confident in what you’re wearing, you’re more likely to carry yourself in a positive way and less likely to be nervous throughout the interview. It will give you the chance to show who you really are without having to think about your outfit’s impact on the interview itself.
Be Honest About Your Strengths — And Weaknesses
It’s easy to talk about your strengths and skills when you’re being interviewed for a job, and you should absolutely make sure your potential employer knows how you can make a difference at their company.
But, don’t shy away from discussing your weaknesses, too. Most companies will appreciate your honesty, and it will give them a chance to support you. If you suggest that you don’t have any weak areas (even though everyone does), it will be assumed that you don’t need help, and you might be expected to take on more than you can chew.
Be prepared for this to be a standard interview question, and perhaps one of the most important ones to answer “correctly”. While you don’t need to list all of your flaws, a little honesty can be refreshing to someone who has been interviewing people all day.
Preparation is key when it comes to hitting all the marks on your next job interview. Remember, you still want to be able to pull away from the pack, so as you prepare, consider ways to think outside the box and impress your potential future employer.