How to Ace Any Interview (and Look the Part)
Preparing for an upcoming job interview can cause all sorts of feelings. Anxiousness, insecurity, forgetfulness, uncertainty—you name it. Going to an interview requires a certain level of vulnerability; however, it is important to keep in mind that interviews are also a two-way street. Not only are you there to be interviewed, but you’re also seeing if this job is a good fit for you, too. Knowing this, you can feel empowered with the right questions in hand. You’re not just an interviewee, but an interviewer as well!
Of course, there are several other ideas worth putting into action for successfully navigating the interview process:
Practice in Advance
Invite a friend or family member to conduct a mock interview ahead of time. Think of it like a rehearsal; this is your chance to make mistakes so that you can avoid them in front of a real audience later. It is also an opportunity to hone your communication skills. Be sure to enunciate clearly, speak in a warm and friendly manner, and consider what kind of body language you may be projecting outwardly.
Dress for Success
Part of acing any interview involves looking the part. Depending on the job or industry you’re applying for, you may want to do some research on what is acceptable attire for an interview in that field ahead of time.
If you’re still not sure, dressing in semi-formal workwear is always the best option—even in casual environments—because it shows that you genuinely care. This applies to phone interviews as well. Even if no one can see you, your brain will trick itself into thinking on a more professional level because it becomes aware of the associations that come along with wearing work uniforms.
Use Mindfulness Techniques
We’ve all heard about the power of mindfulness and meditation, but how many of us put them into action? If you’re feeling anxious before an interview, simply close your eyes and take some deep breaths for a few minutes. Counting your inhalations and exhalations also helps.
For example, upon inhale, count to 1, exhale on 2, inhale on 3, exhale on 4, and so on. Once you reach ten, start over counting to 1, and repeat this until you feel your mind and body reach a more peaceful state.
As for the practice of mindfulness, this is really just another way of saying, “Be present.” Being in the moment at an interview means setting aside any unnecessary, rambling thoughts and practicing active listening instead. Give any questions you receive your full attention and consideration.
Furthermore, take a moment to become aware of your surroundings. Maybe you can find something in the room to compliment or a common interest shared between you and the hiring manager that might be worth mentioning.
Be True to Yourself
People always say, “Just be yourself” when it comes to interviews, but we all know that our personal selves and professional selves are usually quite different from each other. Instead, be true to yourself. This means acting with a sense of professionalism, but also letting pieces of your personal individuality shine through. Toeing the line between the two requires a delicate balance; however, you will find yourself much happier by not taking yourself too seriously.
An interview should feel more like an easygoing conversation than a nerve-wracking interrogation. In fact, many hiring managers often hire people simply because they seem likable or easy to get along with, even in instances where lack of education or experience would otherwise hinder a potential candidate.
Remember, It’s a Two-Way Street
Last, don’t forget that interviews go both ways. Have some solid questions in hand and ready to go. Learn as much as you can about the job and what will be expected of you. At the end of the day, it should be about getting the job you want and not seeking validation from a potential employer who cannot meet your needs or preferences.