#1: Be Early
While serious earliness isn’t a requirement, the key here is to not be late. At all. Nothing will turn an employer off more than a late employee. Being late communicates a lack of interest, a lack of planning, and/or a lack of awareness (like you didn’t have a clue how to get there). Always plan extra time for traffic, for finding a location, for checking in, etc. You will often find that there is more to do and it will take you longer than you think to get there. If you get there early, you’ll have more time to relax and think about what you’re going to say.
#2: Be Prepared
Employers that I talk to always say how important it is that you come prepared. This means you should have the job description memorized. But it also means that you should have a strong familiarity with the company that you are applying to. If you don’t know what the products or services that that the company provides, can you imagine how naive you look to an employer? In the age of the internet, there is no excuse for not knowing a company’s product, its engagement with the community, its history, its successes, and so forth. Do your research. The more you know, the more impressive you’ll be.
#3: Be Professional
We live in an age of casualness and there is sometimes a tendency to think that employers will like you to be casual because you’ll seem relaxed or confident. While there may be a sliver of truth to that for some employers, you always, ALWAYS want to err on the side of professional. Dress nice to an interview. The general rule is to dress one level better than what you expect the interviewer to be wearing. So, if they’ll be in slacks and a tie, you better be in a full suit. And be sure to avoid talk that is too casual. No colloquialisms, no slang, and go easy on the jokes. If you’re interviewing with someone you’ve never met before, trust me: they’ll want you to be professional. Anything less than professional will not be in your favor.
#4: Be Happy
It’s important that you look like you want to be there and that you’re enjoying the people you are conversing with. Remember, the people you interview with will be your fellow coworkers. If you look stressed or unhappy, they probably won’t want to hire you. Smile as much as you can. I don’t want to say to “be yourself,” because I think we all know that’s impossible in a job interview. But you can appear to be happy. Avoid monotone and quiet speaking. Show enthusiasm and interest.
#5: Be Friendly
Just like being happy, you’ll also need to be friendly. We spend almost as much time with our coworkers as we do with our family members. If you’re at the interview, it usually means they’ve already seen your resume and they think you’re qualified. A HUGE part of the interview for them is just to see if they like you. If you are friendly and personable, if you make good eye contact and you’re polite, it will go a long way.
#6: Be Engaged
It seems silly, but pay attention. Sometimes the nerves will get to people interviewing and they forget to really focus. Pay close attention to the people around you, to the environment, and certainly to the questions being asked of you. Realize that you are interviewing them as well (at least, tacitly). You want to know if you’d like to work there, so pay attention to what you are being asked, what it is they want you to do, and if you think this job really is a good fit.
#7: Be Confident
No wimpy handshakes. Seriously. The “dead fish” handshake can seem like you don’t care, like you’re not friendly, and that you have no confidence. Sit with good posture, talk with clarity, look people in the eyes, and be proud of what you can offer. If you seem like you don’t believe you can do the job, they’ll believe you can’t.
#8: Be Honest
Don’t say you’ve done stuff that you haven’t. Don’t embellish projects or experiences or awards. Don’t imply that you know software and procedures and content that you really don’t. People appreciate honesty. That being said, turn everything into a positive. If you are asked about something you know little about, don’t just say you suck at it (or something similar). Say that you love opportunities to learn and that you will invest your time in learning it fast and well.
#9: Be Curious
You’ll almost always be asked if you have any questions at the end of the interview. You should have some handy and you should be thinking of some during the interview. Showing curiosity about the job, the company, the products, and so forth shows that you care. The more questions you have, the more you can have a conversation and the more relaxed the environment will feel. You don’t have to be the only one answering questions! With that mind, however, don’t ask inappropriate questions. Don’t ask how much you’ll make or what the perks of the job are. Those kinds of questions show that you really don’t care about the job; you only care about money and time off! (Not exactly what they want to hear). If they’re serious about you, they’ll get back to you on those things.
#10: Be Grateful
Finish every interview with some form of “thank you.” And, even better, send a letter or email shortly after the interview, thanking the interviewers for their time and consideration. Let those interviewing you know that you were impressed with the company, the facilities, and the people. Being grateful and impressed makes them even more excited to see you again.