What’s that old quote about the “5 P’s” your high school sports coach used to yell at you all the time? “Proper preparation prevents piss poor performance”? As annoying as that might have been, it’s damn good advice and translates incredibly well to the job interview environment. It’s not just about researching your prospective future employer though, you should put together a full routine in order to set yourself up for maximum interview success. Follow this step by step plan and heed the advice of an expert because this is how you’re going to nail that interview and get the job you deserve.
A Proper Warm Up
It never starts when you’re sitting across from a bunch of HR people - it starts right at home in your bathroom. Seriously. One of the things that many HR people say is that many candidates haven’t looked at themselves in the mirror and many recommend a critical piece of advice - practice an entire conversation with easy and difficult questions in the mirror. Sure, it might seem weird at first but stick with it, hell, you can even pretend you’re an actor. Now watch your face, your hands, your body language and think about what they look like and whether or not this what you want to convey to the world. Are you making proper eye contact (a critical skill) when you should be? Once you master feeling relaxed about your body language, you’ll feel more confident about what you’re projecting during that interview.
Dress The Part
Then, of course, once you’re out of the bathroom it’s time to get dressed. How you present yourself style-wise, and more specifically, appropriate to the environment you’ll be working in, is just as important as how you’re answering those questions and connecting with the interviewer. If you're looking for foolproof looks for every type of interview, we put together a comprehensive interview style guide right here. So, for now, we’ll focus on one key factor, generally dressing the part. Know the industry and office environment and dress accordingly. Finance or law interview? A sharp but conservative suit is the way to go. Creative or start-up environment? Don’t overdress, keep it casual but polished with denim or chinos and a blazer. It’s all about finding the balance between dressy and distracting, and its the time to speak softly but stylishly.
Preparation Pro Tips
Cut to the chase - Keep the long-winded jargon to a minimum if you can. Obviously, you’ll need to throw out some key buzzwords relative to the job and industry, but overkill is just going to make you sound like a cookie-cutter kind of guy who read all the right books.
Use the right language - It’s a tough habit to break but “like” and “but” aren’t going to get you where you want to go and it’s worth it to work to avoid them. The same goes for non-committal stuff like “maybe” or “possibly”. Give your real opinion by saying “I think” or “I believe” - it shows you’re willing to make a statement and that you can take a stand.
Prepare for the worst - You know they’re probably going to throw a trick question in there, so prepare for exactly that. Think of the craziest things a job interviewer could ask you and answer them in your head with a creative solution. They want to see how you think on your feet, so do a little dance and show them what you’re capable of.
Bring Supplies - No we’re not talking about snacks, we’re talking about hands-on examples of work, whether it’s a project you crushed, a case study you wrote, or decks you put together. Walking in with a portfolio of hard examples of your awesomeness is going to show you really went the extra mile in preparing and envisioning yourself in the role, solving the problems the company needs you to solve.
Ask plenty of questions - It might seem simple but this is huge. You have the opportunity to challenge them, so do some research and ask smart questions. Whether it’s something that fascinates you about the brand/company or a specific challenge you think you can solve for them, ultimately you want to prove that you want to work there for a reason.
Some Advice From A Professional
Finally, we thought it’d be smart to consult a pro, someone who interviews people for a living, and see what advice they had. We spoke to Kenyon Cory, Recruiting Team Lead for Business Operations at SquareSpace and she had some pretty awesome advice:
Know your stuff (and then some) - “If candidates can tie our product or mission to their own story and goals, it gives us confidence that they will bring passion and commitment to their work. It's not enough to just say you're interested in tech, or want to join a growing company.”
Be prepared - “I know everyone has heard this one a million times, but never underestimate the importance of preparation. Spending a little extra time in advance can make a huge difference in how confidently candidates presents themselves and how effectively they can communicate. Plus, showing you've done your homework indicates good judgment and initiative, both must-have qualities to get hired.”
Smile - “The candidates who stand out to me are those who are not only qualified and driven but also bring a positive outlook to the interview. I like to hear what they're excited to work on and what impact they would like to make here, rather than the limitations and frustrations of their current role. Show me you can adapt and improve, not let inevitable challenges weigh you down.