So you landed yourself a job interview, congrats! The first interview is the most important one you’ll do. It is the first impression that could dictate how far you go in the interview process. While you are qualified to be there, that doesn’t mean you’re a shoo-in for the position. There are plenty of things that you could do that can ruin your chances of moving forward to the future rounds.
Clothing & Hygiene
The first thing to consider when preparing for your interview is how you look. As superficial as it may seem, your appearance influences a first impression. It is the first thing the recruiter will note when you sit down. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend tons of money on a fancy suit or dress. There are several easy things you can do to look professional. As interviews involve a lot of talking back and forth, consider how your breath smells. Avoid eating any potent foods that could leave a bad scent behind. Consider checking your teeth in a mirror before you head in. Having floss on hand can help with old food stuck in your teeth. Not only is it a bit gross, but it can contribute to foul-smelling breath.
Consider the type of company you are interviewing for and dress accordingly. The last thing you want to do is look unprofessional. If the company is more of a corporate entity, it would be a safe bet to look business professional. If the company is more of a startup or more casual, you may be fine with slacks and a dress shirt or blouse. As a rule of thumb, it is always better to overdress than underdress. So if you’re not sure of the appropriate dress code, opt for something nicer. Aside from the type of clothing, the state of your clothing is important as well. Check your clothing for any stains or holes. Run an iron or steamer over any wrinkled areas. You want to look like you put effort into your appearance.
Facial Expressions & Body Language
Facial expressions and body language can also impact the interview. Studies show that candidates who look bored during an interview are rarely chosen to move on. This is unfortunate if it is not reflective of how the candidate feels. To avoid this, consider practicing in front of a mirror and observing how your face looks. If you notice your resting expression looks bored or annoyed, try engaging the face.
As for body language, avoid lack of eye contact, fidgeting, and slouching. These are all signs of bored or inattentive behaviour that your interviewer will pick up on. Try sitting up straight with your hands in your lap and your eyes forward. Avoid crossing your arms in front of your chest or playing with your buttons, hair, or face. Maintaining eye contact and smiling shows you’re excited and eager to be there. You want to look like the only thing on your mind is the interview and the interviewer.
Do Your Research
Doing your research on the company you’re interviewing for is important. It will help you prepare for potential company-oriented questions. And it shows you are interested in your potential employer and the position. Use the company website. Use the mission statement, the history of the company, and any recent press releases. The mission statement will provide the key values and goals that the firm holds in high regard. The history of the company can provide insight into its founders. Press releases discuss recent wins of the company, acquisitions, and any big projects.
Additionally, doing research on the interviewer can also be informative. This helps if the interview is being conducted by someone who holds a similar position as you. LinkedIn is a great place to start. Look at your interviewer’s previous education, work experience, and skills. This can help you understand what the company expects of you in that position.
Without fail, they will ask if you have any questions at the end of the interview. The worst thing to do in this situation is to say you have no questions. This is where doing your research comes in handy. Plan questions that are very specific to the company itself. Try integrating many areas of your research into one question. Combine the mission statement with a press release, or the history with a recent win. Consider asking your interviewer questions specific to their past work experiences.
The Bottom Line
If you take one thing away from this piece, let it be “be prepared”. Whether this is in how you dress, how you answer questions, or how you ask questions. Put in the effort to be ready for anything they confront you with. Showing that you put in the effort to perform well can go a long way in the interview process. Ultimately, companies want to see candidates that are excited to be there.