Congratulations! After months of job hunting, you’ve landed an interview for the job of your dreams. Now that you’ve gotten a foot in the door, how can you maximize the likelihood that your interview will lead to a job offer? We consulted career experts, including several of Aerotek’s top recruiters, to discover their best tips for successful job interviews. Here’s what we learned:Do your homework “Research the company and find out as much as you can about the job opportunity before you meet with the interviewer,” says Sr. Professional Recruiter Jackie Ross. Study the company’s website, become acquainted with its mission, leadership and status in the marketplace and also be aware of any new developments pertaining to the company or occurring in the industry. Not coming prepared in this way shows a lack of enthusiasm for the opportunity and also shows disrespect for the interviewer’s time, Jackie explains.
Practice makes perfect The old adage is true. Practice your responses to the typical job interview questions most employers ask, suggests noted career expert and contributor to The Balance, Alison Doyle. Such questions include: “Tell me about yourself.” “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “What would coworkers say about you?” “Why are you leaving your job?” “Describe a difficult work situation and how you handled it?”
Finally, come prepared with paper and pen or tablet for note taking and have lots of thoughtful questions at the ready.Be articulate It’s not always easy when you’re nervous, but practicing before your interview will help you to answer questions clearly and concisely. “There is nothing worse than when someone goes on and on but doesn’t actually answer the question,” says Sr. Professional Strategic Delivery Manager Kate Keller. “That’s a huge turn-off to employers since everyone’s time is valuable.”
Yet, that doesn’t mean candidates shouldn’t give detailed answers, says Recruiter Lead Kate Schendel. “Interviewers like when candidates speak specifically and in detail about what they do on a day-to-day basis.”
A good guideline? The “STAR” response. “STAR stands for situation, task, action and result,” explains Jackie Ross. “Preparing to answer interview questions using this technique will help to ensure that your answers provide all the information needed for an interview.”Look sharp Sr. Professional Account Recruiting Manager Julie A. Lewis advises candidates to dress in accordance with the norms of their industry, the work environment and the job for which they’re applying. That said, she adds, candidates should wear clothing that is “clean, and ironed,” and notes, “footwear can be an overlooked but important aspect of interview attire for some positions.” For example, says Julie, “Closed-toe and closed-heel shoes are best for safety reasons during work site tours or when a candidate is asked to perform a work sample.” In addition, “shoes with traction may also be helpful or required depending on the environment.”
In corporate environments however, dress etiquette is different. Business professional dress is always a safe choice, says Kate Schendel. “Men should wear a suit and tie and women, a suit or skirt with a nice blouse and jacket. Stay away from anything too revealing and keep distracting accessories to a minimum.”Manners matter “Candidates should always thank the interviewer for their time prior to and after the interview,” says Matthew Naples Account Recruiting Manager. “Common courtesy is something that is so important, but often forgotten in the stress of an interview,” he explains.
Likewise, notes Julie A. Lewis, “Be on time, shake the interviewer’s hand if he or she offers a handshake, look the interviewer in the eye, and at the end of the interview, ask about next steps.”
P.S. Don’t forget to send a thank you note!Interview don’ts “Don’t talk about compensation, unless you are asked about it,” says Senior Professional Recruiter Sam Yeomans. According to experts at business and financial site, Tough Nickel, “To ask about money first makes it seem as if all you are after is money, possibly with as little work as possible. As a rule, wages and salaries are not discussed during the first interview. If they are discussed, this will occur at the end of the session and usually via the interviewer asking what salary you expect.”
The same goes for asking about perks and benefits too early in the interview process says Tough Nickel. “Hiring officers and job interviewers like job candidates with self-confidence, but they do not like people who are selfish. The first interview you have with a company is all about what you can do for them. You are not doing them a favor by interviewing with them, so keep these questions until the second interview or until the interviewer opens up the subject.”
And though it may seem obvious, says Julie A. Lewis, don’t interrupt your interviewer, use profanity and slang, avoid chewing gum, and never take phone calls or texts during an interview.
Our recruiters tell us it takes between one and 15 minutes before they have a sense of whether a candidate is right for a job. So be sure to make the best impression you can. For more tips on acing your job interview, check out these blog posts.