Maybe you haven't started a business yet. Maybe you're a serial entrepreneur in between startups. Or maybe you're trying to gain additional skills while you launch your venture.
Whatever your reason, if you're interviewing for a job, you want to land the job. And that means preparing to do your absolute best.
Here's a guest post from Ryan Robinson, an entrepreneur and marketer who teaches people how to create profitable side businesses. At CreativeLive, he helps the world's top business experts market their transformational online classes.
Interviews can be tough.
If you want to stand a chance of landing the job, you have to be well-versed on the industry and company, and command a deep understanding of the value you're bringing to the table for your potential new employer.
Throughout my career in content marketing, I've spent countless hours researching companies, reading reviews, and asking for tips from current employees before walking into an interview for a dream job.
Despite all the preparation I put into my interviews, I've still had a handful where I left wondering how I could possibly have done any worse. From making no-brainer people-skills blunders to conveying insecure body language, we all know how easy it can be to slip up on your critical first impression.
Now that I've had the opportunity to regularly interview new marketers here at CreativeLive, I'm able to very quickly assess whether or not someone will be a good fit for the job.
Based on my experience on both sides of the interview table, here are my 16 best interview tips to help you land your next dream job.
1. Research the Company.
Did you know that 47 percent of hiring managers have eliminated candidates after an interview because they had little to no knowledge of the company? Nearly half of professionals are going into interviews without having a well-formed understanding of the company and what they do. Take the time to do your homework on the company's website, blog, social channels, Glassdoor, and Wikipedia, and be sure to check out their competitors and make a mental list of what differentiates them.
2. Find Out Who You're Interviewing With and Research Them, Too.
With 43 percent of hiring managers reporting that cultural fit is the single most influential factor in determining which candidate gets the job, how you come across in your interview is a big deal. Based on your research and email conversations ahead of time, be sure you have as clear an idea as possible of how well you're going to relate with the people you're interviewing with, and prepare accordingly.
3. Prepare Creative, Insightful Questions and Craft Your Personal Story.
Sure, some of the standard questions like, "Where do you see the company in five years?" can be useful in some cases, but make sure that the act of asking them doesn't compromise your own credibility. Depending upon your potential role in the company, the person interviewing you likely doesn't want to hear you asking about what the day-to-day activities will be--they want to hire an expert in your field, so act like one. Be sure to refresh your memory on your most relevant recent experience and craft an engaging story that effectively communicates your employment journey. Focus on how your experience will benefit your potential new employer.
Here's an insightful statistic: Over 33 percent of hiring managers say they know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they'll make a job offer to the candidate. That makes your interview prep even more important.
4. Dress for the Job.
Should I wear a suit or play it more casual? The real answer is, it depends on the job you're interviewing for. If you're not dressed for the job you want, you're not doing yourself any favors. A whopping 70 percent of hiring managers say they've eliminated candidates after an interview because they were too fashionable or trendy. Don't be afraid to ask how you should dress ahead of your interview.
5. Bring Two Extra Copies of Your Résumé.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but I'm surprised at how many people show up to an interview without any copies of their résumé--leaving it to chance that the person they're meeting with was given a copy, or had the chance to research them beforehand. Plan for the need to have a résumé for every person you're meeting with and you'll never be caught off-guard.
6. Perfect Your Handshake.
Some 26 percent of hiring managers say they've eliminated candidates after an interview because their handshake was weak. Mastering the art of the perfect handshake is required homework before heading into an interview.
7. Turn Your Phone Off and Arrive Five to 10 Minutes Early.
It may seem like overkill with all of the options we have for silencing ringers and putting your phone on vibrate without actually turning the device off, but there's another reason you need to turn your phone off before an interview: so you won't be tempted to check it. You're at an interview for one purpose, and one purpose only: to land your dream job. Don't allow any distractions to creep in.
Naturally, you don't want to arrive late to an interview. If you're running late, call ahead and be honest as to what's setting you back. Aim for showing up five to 10 minutes early, as anything earlier can really throw a wrench into a busy person's schedule if they feel that they need to accommodate your arrival.
8. Use Confident Posture.
Some 33 percent of hiring managers say they've eliminated candidates after an interview because of bad posture. As you're waiting in the lobby, standing, and walking around the office, be mindful of how your posture looks to the people around you. Are you slouching, or confidently arching your back? Take a launch stance while standing, and keep your back arched while sitting down for conversation.
9. Use the Triple Nod When Listening.
Some 38 percent of hiring managers say they've eliminated candidates after an interview because of a lack of smiling and engagement during conversation. With employers consistently citing having a positive attitude as one of the most important factors in choosing to hire one candidate over another, showing that you're excited and engaged while listening to your interviewer will go a long way in showing off your stellar people skills.
10. Use Hand Gestures While Speaking.
Within reason, utilizing a healthy amount of hand gestures to illustrate your points will significantly help reinforce your communication skills and show them your confidence in what you're saying.
11. Maintain Eye Contact.
Some 67 percent of hiring managers say they've eliminated candidates after an interview because they failed to make enough eye contact. This is a big one for me, too. I have a difficult time trusting someone who's constantly looking down or around the room instead of confidently communicating with me. According to many studies, people who have strong eye contact are perceived as being more persuasive, a necessary skill that every company places value on.
12. Get the Email Address of Everyone You Speak With.
If you're unsure about the company-wide email naming convention, then be sure to ask each person you interview with for the best email address to reach them at. This will come in handy after the interview.
13. Ask When to Expect a Decision and With Whom to Follow-Up.
If you're interviewing with multiple people, be sure to ask the hiring manager (or last person you interview with) when you can expect to hear back on next steps. There's nothing worse than leaving an interview feeling left in the dark about when the company is looking to make a final decision. If you're paying close attention, how they respond will also tell you a lot about how they felt the interview went.
14. If You Want the Job, Say So!
Don't allow there to be any ambiguity about whether or not you actually want the job. If, by the end of your interview, you're still feeling excited about the opportunity and want to move forward with the company, you need to say it! Never leave anything up to chance with the interview process.
15. Send a Follow-Up Thank You Email.
Before you go to bed on the date you had your interviews, be sure to send a brief, personalized thank you email to everyone you met with earlier in the day. Make sure to mention a small personal detail, mutual interest, or topic point you discussed with each person, and it'll solidify your great impression in their minds. Bonus points for sending a handwritten card, which has become a much-appreciated lost courtesy.
16. Follow-Up If You Don't Hear Back Soon (One Week).
If you don't hear back within four or five business days of your interview, it's completely acceptable to follow-up with either the person who's been your point of contact throughout the interview process or the hiring manager for the position. Keep the follow-up very short and seek to provide value, rather than coming across as pushy or as trying to nudge them toward making a decision.
Will this be the year you land your dream job?