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Infographic: Interview Tips

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We’ve compiled a guide to help you nail your interview – showing off your authentic self and landing the job.

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Your Ultimate Interview Guide

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When you land an interview, you have one chance to make a good impression. It’s a requirement for any job and your opportunity to show them who you really are. No pressure, right?

When you land an interview, you have one chance to make a good impression. It’s a requirement for any job and your opportunity to show them who you really are. No pressure, right?

Nearly all of us (92%) fear something about job interviews (Harris Interactive and Everest College), this includes:

  • General anxiety (17%)
  • Being overqualified (15%)
  • Not knowing the answer to the interviewer’s question (15%)
  • Being late (14%)

And it makes sense, this is a high-risk, high-reward situation. The best thing you can do to combat nerves and increase your odds of landing the job is to prepare.

Nothing can beat stellar experience, passion, great interview skills, and a confident disposition. However, interviewers are more likely to reflect on the entirety of the experience, rather than just those elements. The little things can add up, and the little things can set you apart.

As one of the nation’s leading staffing companies, we conduct hundreds of thousands of interviews each week.

We’ve compiled a guide to help you nail your interview – showing off your authentic self and landing the job.

Here’s your ultimate guide to before, during, and after an interview.

Before

The interview begins waaay before you ever sit in their chair. Take these steps to get prepared.

Clean up your social media

Hiring managers, more likely than not, will check any social media platform they can find. According to CareerBuilder,

  • 60% of recruiters will use social networking sites to research candidates (CareerBuilder)
  • 40% have reconsidered a candidate based on what they found
  • 69% of recruiters say that they have rejected a candidate based on their findings.

What’s on your social media does not define you, but it can influence how hiring managers see you, making it imperative that you keep your social media accounts private or squeaky clean.

Interview scheduling

The time and day at which you schedule your interview may not be entirely within your control. But if you have the opportunity, when you schedule your interview can increase your chances of landing the gig.

According to Glassdoor, Tuesdays between 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM is your best chance. You’re not the first, not the last, but early enough to be favorably compared to others and have your interviewer’s full attention.

This does not dismiss your talents or interviewing skills, but this can give you an advantage.

What do I do if I am interviewing in secret?

You can schedule your interview before or after work. But to get that time advantage, you can simply tell your employer/manager that you have an appointment. Don’t call in sick at the last minute or blatantly lie, just in case you don’t get the job.

Research

Do research until you feel dizzy. You can never know too much about the organization. The internet has changed everything and has allowed for unprecedented access to information. Take advantage of websites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn, even the organization’s website will give you great insight.

Before your interview, research the:

  • Position
    Do some research on LinkedIn and check out who had this position before you. Notice their responsibilities and advancements.
  • Organization
    What are the organization’s roots? Its latest happenings and successes? Its purpose? What do you find interesting about it?
  • Interviewer(s)
    Check out your interviewer’s LinkedIn page, read any articles they’ve written, and better understand their role within the organization. They will be flattered.
  • Culture
    Go to the organization’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages to learn about the personality of the company.
  • Industry
    The interviewer will be impressed with your industry predictions and insight into how it will affect your position currently and in the future.
  • Dress code
    Your interview outfit will be affected by the industry and organization. Check out their Facebook and LinkedIn pages to get a more candid look of how they dress. Always lean towards the more conservative/professional side – we will address this more later.

Interviewers want to gauge your investment in the position, and what to know that you are prepared for the reality of the industry and organization you are entering.

Prepare documents

Print is not dead. You can’t assume your interviewer will have everything in front of them, and scrolling through your phone to demonstrate something is super unprofessional.

Be sure to bring in multiple copies of your resume – you never know who will show up. Five copies should be enough. Also bring any other relevant materials including, but not limited to writing samples, portfolio pieces, case studies, former projects, or anything else that applies to the position.

Always print on resume paper.

Pro-tip: From a psychological perspective, tactile experiences can alter perception. We perceive heavier items as literally more weighty (Psychology Today).

There will come a point in your interview where the interviewer will ask you, “Do you have any questions for me?” Your answer will always be “Yes.” We will discuss these questions more in-depth later in this guide, but it is imperative that you write them down, and have them prepared before your interview.

Appearance

No matter your industry, professionalism extends to your appearance. According to the Undercover Recruiter, 65% of bosses indicate that clothes could be a deciding factor between two almost-identical candidates.

Interview wear will vary according to industry and individual organization, but it is always best to dress more conservatively and professional.

Check out their website and social media to see what your potential future coworkers wear on a daily basis. Then, dress one step above.

As you are planning your outfit, make sure it is clean, well-tailored, and free of any holes or loose seams. Choose neutral colors (black, white, gray, navy, beige, etc.), conservative dress, simple accessories, and a neat hairstyle.

If you choose to bring a purse or briefcase, make sure it is professional and tidy – inside and out.

Always try on your full outfit ahead of time and making sure it’s neat and ironed.

Map out the drive

Finding a brand new location can be difficult under stress, and you definitely do not want to be late. Map out your drive and practice it before your interview.

Power Posing

Take a tip from psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy. In her TEDtalk (and subsequent book), through her research she found that posing like a powerful person before an interview led participants to feel less stressed, more powerful, more authentic, and more likely to land the job.

In the days leading up to your interview, practice power-posing in private. For two minutes at a time, pose like Wonder Woman or make yourself as big as possible. Then, continue to practice good posture – general good posture will produce more of those good hormones that make you feel confident.

On the day of your interview, give yourself an extra boost as you go in. As you ride in the elevator or go to the bathroom quickly, whip out a power pose and stroll in feeling confident and authentic.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The most important thing you can do is practice. Practice everything: your answers, your drive, your elevator pitch, everything. Don’t necessarily memorize your answers, but practicing will help you feel confident and ready.

During

One-third of bosses know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone (UndercoverRecruiter), while half of hiring decision-makers say they can tell in the first five minutes of an interview whether the candidate is a good fit (CareerBuilder).

Here’s how to make the most of that first 90 seconds, and the rest of your interview.

Arrive early, but not too early

Punctuality is key, but showing up too early can make you seem too eager and your interviewer feel awkwardly rushed. Aim to arrive in the waiting area 5 minutes before your scheduled interview time. This shows appropriate timeliness, while allowing your interviewer to be ready for you.

Reception area etiquette

Your behavior is being observed and taken into consideration from the moment you step on the campus. That means you should conduct a professional demeanor from the moment you step out of your car to the moment you return to it. Practice courteous and polite small talk with all you encounter and treat everyone as if they are the CEO.

Cell phone etiquette

This should go without saying, but there is absolutely no reason your cell phone should be taken out – not to check the time, not to close out of your email, nothing. Not even in the waiting room. Regardless of industry or organization, checking your phone will never be acceptable behavior in the eyes of an interviewer.

Those pesky “silent” vibrations can also disturb your interview. Turn it off or switch it to airplane mode and keep it in your purse or briefcase.

Smile

It’s your simplest secret weapon. Humans are influenced by facial cues, and a smile indicates that you are friendly and approachable. People who smile appear to be more likable, courteous, and even competent (Penn State University). It also helps decrease the amount of stress-induced hormones circulating through your bloodstream, lowers your blood pressure, and makes you feel more relaxed and happy by stimulating the release of feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain (Fortune).

Plus, your interviewer is more likely to smile back, and that will make you feel good!

Handshake

No limp noodles, no strength competitions, no half-grips – more than a quarter of hiring managers say they’ve ruled out potential hires whose grip was either too weak (21%) or too strong (7%) (Fortune).

Deliver a firm and sturdy handshake paired with eye contact and a smile.

Posture/Sitting/Body Language

Your composure can be your biggest weakness in a job interview. The most common reasons otherwise qualified candidates don’t get hired are:

  • failure to make eye contact (67%)
  • not smiling (39%)
  • playing with something on the table (33%)
  • not sitting up straight (30%)
  • fidgeting too much (30%)
  • crossing their arms over their chests (29%)

(CareerBuilder)

Don’t take a seat unless asked to, sit straight, and lean slightly forward to show you’re attentive. If you are a known fidgeter, or simply want to look invested, take notes during your interview. It can be an outlet for your nervous energy and you can reference your notes while making your decision!

“Um…”

It’s an infamous nervous habit. Try replacing your “ums” with pauses instead!

Small Talk

Your interview is likely to start off with a bit of small talk. Sure, you can talk about the weather, but why not start the conversation off with a bang? Take the lead and try a few of these conversation starters:

  • “I see you recently won the X award. Your engagement programs are really leading in the industry.”
  • “I saw in the local business journal that you were ranked as a top-grossing company in the region. What do you think has brought you to this level?”
  • “I read your blog post on X. How do you see that affecting the industry?”

As the conversation continues, emphasize commonalities and shared experiences with your interviewer – we like people who are like us! Also, work their name into the conversation (without overdoing it). Hearing our own name elicits a unique effect in the brain, makes us feel good, and can help you make sure you never forget their name.

“So, tell me about yourself.”

You will hear this question. This may seem like standard small talk, but make no mistake: this is the time to sell yourself. This is your time to deliver your elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is a succinct and concise introduction, intended to capture your audience in the time it takes to ride in an elevator. You have less than 30 seconds to introduce yourself and establish your value, making your audience want to continue the conversation – or in this case, the interview.

Again, start your interview with a POW! For tips on how to formulate your elevator pitch, check out our infographic here.

Prepare for questions like these

Most of the time, your interviewer isn’t looking for a right or specific answer for their questions. They want to see your reasoning and values and if those match with the position and organization.

Practice your answers so you can avoid getting stumped and show off your true self.

Here are a few questions you should prepare for:

  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • Tell me more about your education.
  • What kind of work environment do you like best?
  • What motivates you?
  • What do you consider to be your biggest professional achievement?
  • Tell me about the last time a coworker or customer got angry with you. What happened?
  • Out of all the other candidates, why should we hire you?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What do you know about our organization/industry?
  • What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?

Avoid words like “team player,” “hard worker,” or any other zombie corporate babble – anything that’s not really quantifiable. The best thing you can do is provide examples or stories, providing evidence to who you are and how you work. And most importantly, DON’T LIE.

What is your biggest weakness?

Holy moly, DO NOT say you are a perfectionist. This answer is so common that it has become meaningless and lazy. Instead, try emphasizing on a problem you have fixed, focusing on your methods of fixing it.

This is also an opportunity to address things like a gap in your resume or lack of industry experience. A certain amount of self-awareness combined with how you plan to combat that can really put you in a good light.

The big question

“Do you have any questions for me?” your interviewer will ask. You must respond, “Yes.”

This is can be a make or break moment. They are gauging your investment and critical thinking skills. Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • Is there anything about my application/resume that concerns you?
  • Can you tell me about the best person you ever had in this position?
  • If I do everything perfectly, what will you notice most?
  • What drives you crazy about new hires?
  • Can you tell me more about your journey within the organization?
  • What do you think makes this company the best place to work?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department right now?
  • What do you expect the interview timeline to look like?
  • Any other questions relevant to the organization, benefits, or industry

Anything that shows you’re invested and did your homework on the organization

After

The interview is not over yet. Nearly half (48%) of recruiters said they usually conduct three interviews per candidate (MRI Network). No matter what stage you are at, finish the game strong with these steps after each interview:

Thank you card

Always, every time, no matter what, send a thank you card. You want to show your graciousness and stay at the top of their minds. Opt for the personal touch of a physical letter or card over email.

Here’s a template you can work with:

Hello [interviewer],Thank you for taking time to meet with me today. It was such a pleasure to learn more about the team and position. Our conversation confirmed my interest in becoming part of [the organization]. I am excited by the [organization’s program/practice] and the opportunity to [goal/contribution].

I look forward to hearing from you about the next steps in the hiring process. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide additional information.

Sincerely,

Super Ambassador

Send this as quickly as possible.

Follow Up

It takes on average three interviews and three to six weeks to get an offer( MRINetwork). Stay in front of your interviewer with regular phone calls and emails, without being overwhelming.

Most likely, your interviewer will give you a timeline. If you do not hear from by those mile markers. Call or email promptly.

Prepare for the next round

Remember, you can expect around 3 rounds of interviews. Prepare for your next round while you wait for a decision. That way, you’re ready no matter what.

Considering an offer

There are several factors to consider when you get a job offer. We will explore this in our next blog post!

You will have to interview for any job you want. It’s a shared reality for all jobseekers. Interviewing is nerve-wracking! View it as an opportunity to change your life, rather than an intimidating procedure. As you move forward, practice the mantra: “I’m not nervous – I’m excited.”

How to Quit Your Job [video]

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This entry was posted in Job Seekers, Video by .

Quitting is part of life. Whether new opportunities come knocking or external forces pull you out, you will have to quit and end your time at an employer. However, quitting is not the end of your relationship. You will need their support in your future endeavors, and how you quit will affect your career.

Watch and learn more about the right way to quit your job.

How to Quit: The Right Way

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This entry was posted in Job Seekers, Whitepapers by .

Quitting is part of life. Whether new opportunities come knocking or external forces pull you out, you will have to quit and end your time at an employer. However, quitting is not the end of your relationship. You will need their support in your future endeavors, and how you quit will affect your career.

There is a right way and lots of wrong ways. Here’s the right way:

Before you Quit…

1. Make sure you’re quitting for the right reasons.

You’re ready for a change, but quitting may not be the wisest decision. Proceed with quitting if:

  • The pros outweigh the cons
  • You have another job lined up
  • The stress is affecting your health
  • You are underpaid or the job is unstable
  • Internal growth is unattainable or undesirable
  • You are going through a major life change (moving, completing education, etc.)
  • You have put in at least 2 years at the organization
  • You are facing problems that cannot be solved

You should quit to advance your career and meet your needs, not out of malicious intent.

2. Line up employment

Before you even think about quitting, it is essential to have your next job ready to go. Not just for security, but to prevent gaps in your resume.

3. Double check your employment agreement

The employment agreement you signed when you got hired might have certain guidelines around quitting and the quitting process, be sure to adhere to it.

4. Consider your timing

You know your workplace and your work-life schedule. Try not to quit during the busy times or when your team needs you the most. Finish major projects and make sure you don’t leave any of your clients or contacts hanging.

When you Quit…

1. Write up your two weeks’ notice/Letter of resignation

A written letter of resignation is absolutely a requirement. Having written documentation can protect you should things go awry, and can help the organization better plan for your replacement.

You must type it, date it, sign it, and deliver a copy to your boss, your HR department, and anyone else who will need it.

Notify your employer a minimum of two weeks prior to your last day. This is both professional and a common courtesy.

Here is a template to help get you started:

[Date]To Whom It May Concern:Thank you for the opportunity to serve [organization]. Please accept this letter as formal notification of my resignation from my position as [position title]. My last day will be [date of last day].I have truly enjoyed my work with [organization], and am grateful for the valuable experience and opportunities extended to me.

As we approach my final weeks, I am dedicated to wrapping up my duties and training my replacement. Please let me know what I can do to aid the transition.

I am honored to have worked for this organization, and hope to stay in touch in the future.

Sincerely,

Super Ambassador

Super Ambassador

Keep it short, sweet, and professional.

This is not your chance to tell off your boss, or point out flaws in the company. If your separation is not exactly amicable, you can reduce it into a single sentence:

Please accept this letter as formal notification of my resignation from my position as [position title], effective [last day].

2. Set up a meeting with your boss

This is where you will deliver your first letter of resignation. Your boss should be the very first person you notify, even before your work BFF.

Schedule a proper meeting, just the two of you. It’s up to you to take lead of the conversation. Notify your boss of your intent, without giving away too much information. Be prepared to answer these questions:

  • Why?
  • Where are you going?
  • Is there anything we can do to make you reconsider?

Keep your answers professional and avoid getting too sad or too angry. You can keep them as vague as you’d like.

This is also your chance to develop a transition plan and ask to use that person as a future reference.

3. Notify your team

Depending on your relationship, you can notify your team in an email. If you’re closer, you can coordinate a meeting. No matter how you do it, emphasize the positive aspects of your experience and express your gratitude to them – your exit will mean a little extra stress on them.

4. Finish strong

No slacking off. During your last two weeks, work as hard as you ever did. Notify any customers you may work with and finish up any major projects. Make it as simple as possible for someone to pick up where you left off.

5. Be gracious in your exit interview

An exit interview is your organization’s opportunity to find out what they can do better – but this still is not your opportunity to start listing off why you hated your job. Especially if you want to continue to use them as a reference, keep this interview professional. Here are a few questions you might be asked:

  • Why are you leaving this position?
  • What could we have done better?
  • What did you like most about your job?
  • How was your relationship with your boss?
  • Did you have the right tools and resources to do your job well?
  • Would you recommend working here to a friend?

It can feel tempting to air out all your grievances, but your reputation as an employee is more important. Offer patient and constructive criticism, and practice graciousness throughout.

After you Quit…

1. Prepare your replacement

If you and your replacement overlap, patiently train them on all of your job functions. Don’t be grumpy and don’t tell them what you hate about the company. Give them your full attention and energy as they take over your position.

2. Keep in touch

You will need previous workplace relationships to build your career. Keep in touch with your former boss and references, you never know if you will need their help in the future.

3. Update your LinkedIn and Resume

Once you leave one job and start another, make sure your LinkedIn and resume reflect that. If this new job doesn’t work out, you need to be ready.

4. Never speak negatively about your employer

This is never a good look. Don’t bash your employer on social media or bad-mouth them at industry events. Continue your gracious nature and you will build your reputation as a good employee to have around.

Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s just part of work-life. It is up to you to keep up professionalism and build your career properly and effectively.

10 Biggest Resume No-No’s [video]

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Your resume is intended to serve as both a snapshot and an invitation. It’s a snapshot that shows how your past will indicate your future potential, and it’s an invitation to find out more.  Watch along as we explore the top 10 resume blunders and learn how to avoid them.  Happy job hunting!

Resume Tips [Graphic]

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This entry was posted in Infographics, Job Seekers by .

Your resume is intended to serve as both a snapshot and an invitation. It’s a snapshot that shows how your past will indicate your future potential, and it’s an invitation to find out more. Check out this Infographic for some tips!

Print

Your Guide to a Rock Star Resume + Cover Letter

Tips to get your resume and cover letter dream-job-ready.

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This entry was posted in Job Seekers, Whitepapers by .

You never get a second chance at a first impression. In the job seeking process, your first impression (usually) relies on your resume and cover letter. While you may think these are ready to go, your dream job chances can be dashed before you get the opportunity to show them who you truly are: 1 out of 5 recruiters will reject a candidate before reading to the end of their resume (New College of Humanities).

We’re one of the largest staffing companies in the nation, so we see thousands of resumes and cover letters every week. Here are our tips to create the most professional and effective resume and cover letter.

Continue reading

Informational Interviews [video]

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This entry was posted in Infographics, Job Seekers by .

An informational interview is an educational conversation between two people. Typically, someone will pursue an informational interview with someone who has a career that they’d like, works at a company they’d like to work at, or in an industry they are interested in.

Watch and learn more about this quick and easy way to network and make connections for the life you want!