Acing an interview is not an easy task. You’re trying to present yourself as the most desirable candidate and beat out all the rest. In addition to competing against a group of strangers, you also have to plead your case to a stranger. It seems the only known reliable factor of success is YOU. Luckily with upfront preparations, real-time performance and a killer follow-through you can come out on top.

Preparation

All it takes is a quick trip to Google to prepare for the inevitable portions of an interview. Role play with a friend the most frequently asked interview questions to practice your verbiage and composition. Just hearing yourself speak out loud can calm your nerves for the real thing.

Plan Backwards

Make a list and use backwards planning to ensure that you arrive on time. The fundamentals of backwards planning lie in starting at your end goal (arriving at the interview), estimating the length of the tasks in between and then, time lining each step out. So, for example, if your interview is at 11:45am you’ll want to arrive fifteen minutes early (11:30). You should also allow for 10 minutes to park (11:20) and it should take you forty-five minutes in heavy traffic to get there (10:35), so plan on heading to your car at 10:30am.

Be sure to call the building’s front desk prior to your interview and ask for any parking recommendations. And anytime you can perform a drive-by dry run, do it! When it comes to arriving late to an interview, there really are no excuses.

Posture

Your posture has an impact on people’s impression of you as it’s correlated to both confidence and being self-aware. Give yourself a posture check by rolling your shoulders back. Also, elongate your spine by picturing an imaginary string being tugged from the top of your head. In addition to great posture, equip your appearance with a clean smile, firm handshake and eye contact. Remember to nod during the speaker’s portion too, as a way to convey your active listening.

Positivity

Interviewing requires a certain level of finesse. While your past job may have been miserable and former bosses might have been nightmares- spare your interviewer from any negative feelings. Instead, stay positive by highlighting lessons learned and perspectives gained.

Performance

Do more than come equipped with your current resume. Come with a plan of attack for the position that you want. This will require some pre-interview research on your end, but the work will be worth it.

Interviewers are sure to be impressed by a candidate who takes the initiative to construct a plan of action for the desired position. Provide a bulleted one-page list detailing how you would tackle this job and highlight what unique attributes you would bring to the table, should the opportunity be extended.

Probe

Don’t get up from your chair until you ask a question that comments on the company’s culture. Again, pre-interview preparations are required. Do your research and know what the company values. Use your interview as a chance to showcase your knowledge and dive deeper.

In addition to learning about the company’s culture, it’s also a good idea to brush on the company’s history, the CEO’s background as well as the background of the hiring manager that will be interviewing you. The more initiative you can show and knowledge you can display, the better chance you’ll have of coming off as a qualified and prepared candidate

Postpone

As frustrating as it may be, postpone talks of salary negotiations and benefits. In the eyes of a hiring manager, these types of discussions should be held off until an offer has been extended or at least until the close of the second interview.

Postal

Send a clean, handwritten thank you note expressing your gratitude for your interviewer’s time and consideration. Keep it short, sweet and above all, timely. Consider already having the card and stamp ready, so that after the interview all you’ll have to do is properly address your letter and drop it in the mail.

How do you prepare for a perfect interview? Share your tips in the comments below!

Author: Kelly Gregorio writes about employment trends and workplace tips while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a small business loan provider. You can read her daily business blog here.

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