There are few things as nerve-racking as an in-person job interview.
- A first date
- ...that might be it
The stakes feel high. It’s inherently an intimidating situation. And you really, really want the job.
If you weren’t nervous before a job interview, we’d be, well, nervous.
Luckily, there are some steps you can take to show up with your A-game, and leave the employers saying, “Well, I think that’s the one.”
Preparation has never been more key
Not showing up prepared for an interview is an immediate red flag and could ruin your chances entirely of going to the next phase.
If your attitude is, “Why would I spend so much time preparing for an hour-long interview?” try reframing the question to, “Why wouldn’t I spend time preparing for an interview that could change the course of my career?”
Do your research on the position. Know about the history of the company. Scour their website pages to learn about their mission and their long-term goals. Look at the current team page and see if anyone currently has your role. Check out the company on social media and see what they’re sharing. Get to know everything you can about the company, and the specific people who will be interviewing you, if you know their names ahead of time.
Do practice interviews — even if it’s just you talking into a mirror
Job interviews are not only nerve-wracking because the stakes feel high. You’re also getting asked really, really tough questions.
“Why are you interested in this role?” “What are your greatest strengths?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
TOUGH QUESTIONS. Practice what your answers to these will be. You obviously don’t want to memorize your answers and sound like a robot, but have a clear idea of what you want to say, and just practice saying it a few times.
When you practice, make sure to include...“Tell us about a time when you…”
The dreaded behavioral interview questions.
These are the kinds of questions that ask you to tell a story about a previous work experience that demonstrates how you handled a situation, and what you learned. Questions like, “Tell me about a time when you were in a high pressure situation and how you responded,” or “give me an example of a time when you didn't meet a goal that you had set and how you dealt with it.”
Look at examples of these questions beforehand, and think of stories from your past working life that would fit them. The stories you pick should be crafted in a way that demonstrates how you've learned or improved in some way that's relevant to the job.
Keep in mind, you don't need a specific story for every possible interview question that could come out. That would be impossible. Plus, when you have a few stories and you've practiced them, they're going to be pretty adaptable. You’ll be able to apply them to a wide range of different questions.
And don’t forget, you should ask questions as well
It’s not just about the employer trying to see if you’re a good fit for them. You also want to find out if the job is a good fit for you. Asking questions also shows that you’re taking the interview and job opportunity seriously.
Here’s a list of some great questions you could ask.
When you show up, show up big
Okay, this one should be a no-brainer, but we’re going to just remind you: DO NOT BE LATE FOR A JOB INTERVIEW. And actually, you should shoot to be about 15 minutes early. That allows a little extra time in case you get lost.
Once you set foot on the company’s property, the interview has begun. Be polite and engaged with every single person you encounter. Do not walk into the building with headphones on. Ask the receptionist how their day is going. Do not have your phone out while you’re sitting in the waiting room. Companies will often ask everyone who came across a candidate what they thought.
Be a polite and friendly human.
And when you get into the interview, be confident, but not show-boaty. You’re awesome, and they’ll see that if you walk in knowing you’re a great fit for the role. Just remember to also be humble.
Send thank you email and cards
Ask for a business card from everyone you interact with. And within 24 hours of your interview, send every single one of them a ‘thank you’ email. ALL of them. And yes, each email should be personalized.
A bonus touch is to then also send a ‘thank you’ card to the person(s) who ran the interview and would be your direct manager. A real card with a real stamp. It’s a simple touch that goes a long, long way.
Overall, be yourself. The professional version of yourself, but yourself. You’ve got this. Go rock it.