How to succeed in a job interview and make a great first impression

Preparing a job interview and getting hired

Do you experience nerves before job interviews? Many people do, and it’s easy to understand why: the more you care about getting the job, the more you’re likely to worry about how the interview will go.

If you haven’t had many job interviews in the past, the uncertainty will amplify your nerves. However, if you follow best practices, you will boost your confidence, feel more at ease answering questions, and significantly increase your chances of landing a job interview. Here are some pointers to help you succeed the next time (and every time).

Prior to the interview

1. Conduct research

Before you go into an interview, always do your homework on the company. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you were hired only to find out you didn’t want to work there? At the very least, conduct research on the company and the job.

Some important information to look for includes what the employer’s most recent projects are, how financially stable the employer is, and how well they treat employees.

In terms of the job, look for information that will help you be more convincing about how you would be a good fit. Find former and current employees who have held that position on LinkedIn and ask them about it. If this isn’t possible, go over the job description and make a list of your relevant accomplishments. These will be used as conversation starters during your interview.

2. Prepare to tell stories

Part of a successful job interview is your ability to market your experiences and skills as they relate to the job description, and telling stories to illustrate your experiences and successes with those skills is a great way to do just that.

Stories make you more engaging, allow you to show off your personality, and also allow you to demonstrate good communication skills. The job description, in conjunction with your research, should reveal which specific skills the employer values the most for the job. With that in mind, review your memories for stories that best demonstrate your qualifications.

3. Compile your questions

A classic recruiter pet peeve is when they ask out loud if you have any questions for them, and you simply say “no.” That could be a major strike against you.

Having questions demonstrates your genuine interest in the role, as well as the fact that you did your homework and should be taken seriously. Prepare a list of questions you’d like answered, and feel free to refer to it during the interview.

4. Put on your best outfit

While your skills and experience should speak for themselves, the first step toward a successful job interview is to dress appropriately. Dress one level up for the job you’re applying for. It’s not just about expensive suits and ensembles — it’s about looking the part and wearing clean, well-fitting clothes.

If you have any questions about the dress code at the company where you are interviewing, contact the recruiter. Once you’ve decided on a general direction, pick something that will make you feel confident.

Decide what you’re going to wear the night before so you don’t have to rush at the last minute. Check your clothes to ensure they are clean and pressed.

5. Bring what you need.

Even if you emailed your resume to the company, bring paper copies with you for you and your interviewer to refer to. It’s also a good idea to have paper copies of your references list on hand in case they’re requested. These should always be written on a separate piece of paper, not on your resume.

Bring a work portfolio that demonstrates your abilities and accomplishments. Compiling it will boost your confidence and help you remember things, while having it in the interview will boost your credibility and make it easier to tell your stories.

6. Stick to the schedule

Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early for your interview. Arriving too early may cause the employer to become confused and create an awkward situation. Arriving late, on the other hand, creates a bad first impression and may doom your chances right away.

When making arrangements for the interview, request directions. If you encounter a problem, call ahead at the first sign of trouble. It demonstrates good manners and a respect for the recruiter’s time, and it allows them to reschedule if necessary.

During the interview

1. Maintain a positive attitude throughout

A positive conversation is essential for landing a job. Employers do not want to hear a slew of excuses or negative feelings about a negative experience, even if they are valid.

Don’t be defensive if you’re asked about a low grade, a sudden job change, or a weakness in your background. Instead, concentrate on the facts (briefly) to highlight what you learned from the experience. And never, ever bad mouth anyone. That just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

2. Pay attention to your body language

In job interviews, what you don’t say can be just as important as what you do. Understanding and maximizing your nonverbals — such as smiling, eye contact, handshake, and posture — will help you succeed in the interview.

3. Be honest

Speak clearly and passionately about your experiences and abilities. You should be pleased with your achievements. Maintain a professional demeanor while allowing your personality to shine through. Employers are more likely to hire people they like. Short pauses should not be avoided. It’s okay if you need a few seconds to think about your answers.

4. Seal the deal

When both sides have finished their questions and the interview has come to a close, thank your interviewers for their time and ask when you can expect to hear from them again and what the best way to contact them is (which you should note immediately). Did we mention that here at Ozeol, we are currently hiring. You can check our current openings on our recruitement page.

Be a part of something great.

All you have to do is take the first step, we will do the rest.

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