The Do’s And Don’ts Of A Great Job Interview

Posted in: Business

There is nothing quite as stressful as a job interview.

Not only is there a lot riding on how well you answer the questions that are asked, but there are also all of the other little elements that add up to interview paranoia. Do I have anything in my teeth? What if I sound like I’m bragging when I answer the questions? What if I am not bragging enough? What if I end up looking like a total idiot? It’s enough to make you want to run out of the building in a panic.

Landing a new job is about more than just an advancement in your career. Maybe it’s your chance to live out your passion, escape the red tape of the corporate world and challenge yourself to make a difference. But, that can make it even more nerve-racking when it comes to acing your interview.

Obviously, there’s a lot of pressure when it comes to impressing at the job interview. That’s why we put together these interview do’s and don’ts we’ve learned sitting on the other side of the interview table. Hopefully reading these tips from a interviewer will not only help you improve your chances at landing the job, but will make you more relaxed and give you the skills of an interview pro throughout the hiring process. Good luck!

Timeliness Is Not an Option

Don’t: be late for the interview. It makes it appear that other people’s time is not as important as your own. Plus, you’re sure to leave the interviewer wondering, “What will this person be like as an employee? Will they ever be on time?” On the other hand, don’t be too early either. Interviewers don’t like it when the person they are going to interview is thirty minutes early. They feel pressured to speed up their own process because you decided to show up before they had a chance to prepare.

Do: be on time. It’s alright to arrive 30 minutes early to ensure a herd of cats don’t run you off the road, and if they do, you can still make it to the interview on time. But if you’re there more than 15 minutes early, hang out in the car, go grab a coffee, freshen up in restroom, then show up at the office five minutes early.

A Handshake May Not Make You, But It Can Break You

Don’t: mess up your first impression with a totally awkward introduction. There are few things as disconcerting when meeting someone for the first time as a terrible handshake. If you have received one, you know that for the next several minutes all you want to do is, A) wipe your hand off on your pants as though you’re wiping off slime, or B) wonder if this person with a weak handshake has any sort of a backbone at all. Be confident and firm in your introductory handshake. But, don’t pretend that you’re trying to break the interviewer’s hand either. Leave your innate crushing ability for walnuts when your home, not the interviewer’s hands.

Do: practice the perfect shake. Look it up on Google. Practice it at home on friends or family. The perfect grip, the look in the eyes, the right amount of time and right amount of shake, all of these things can be and should be practiced. The perfect handshake is forgotten almost immediately. The terrible handshake is remembered for a long, long time.

Yes, There Are Stupid Questions. And Too Many Questions

Don’t: ask a million questions so that you can sound interested. Ask a legitimate question, but don’t interrupt the interviewer to do it. Too many uneducated questions seems like you don’t care enough about the job to do research. Keep in mind that, although this is your interview, it is the interviewer’s job to ask you questions. If you take over and ask too many questions, you’ll definitely have another interview, but it will be with a different company.

Do: do your homework prior to the interview. You don’t have to be an expert on all things related to the company, but you need to know the basics. Learn about what the company does, what sets them apart from their competitors, what the position you’re interviewing for entails and what you can bring to the table. Also be sure to take a look at your personal and professional network to see if you know anyone that works for the company. If so, reach out to them for tips and essential information you should know. Even if the information never comes up in the interview, it can assist you in understanding the culture and how things work at the company. Just remember that the information that is learned throughout a job interview shouldn’t be one-sided. Just as your interviewer asks questions about you to learn if you are the right fit for the company, you also need to make sure you have a clear understanding if the company has the right culture for you.

My Biggest Weakness? I Care Too Darn Much

Don’t: come to the interview without an answer to the dreaded question, “What’s your biggest weakness?” Ninety percent of all interviews include this old standard because it provides great insight into what you’ll be like on the job. Keep in mind, they’re looking for real answers. They don’t want to hear, “Well John, I love my job too much,” as your weakness (unless it’s true). Nor do they want to hear, “I take pride in fighting with my co-workers.” (Believe it or not, this is a real response we actually received during a job interview! Needless to say, they weren’t a good culture fit.)

Do: be honest. Every company’s top-performing employees have their flaws, and it’s important they recognize them. To help shine a positive light on your weaknesses, think like a politician. “Even though I am very focused, my desk could usually stand a good cleaning.” You’ve told them you have a messy desk, but you also said you are very focused, so you don’t let the small things get in the way of productivity. The most important thing to do is have a prepared answer to this question.

Dress the Part

Don’t: dress wrong for the job. If you have done your homework on the company you are interviewing with, you should be pretty familiar with the culture and the dress code that they follow. And most importantly, that dress code should be something that you are comfortable working in day in and day out. (For example, if you’re a jeans and t-shirt kind of person, could you really learn to rock a suit and tie every day at work?) If not, you may be interviewing at a company where you may not be a great culture fit.

Here at Hello Innovation, we are a super casual, come-as-you-are company when it comes to culture and dress code. We always feel bad when we see an interviewee enter the office all suit and tied up, because they are surrounded by an office full of sneakers, sweatshirts and nerdy t-shirts. In fact, a potential candidate who enters the office dressed up to the nines can even give off the opposite impression they were going for, as it often feels as though they are too corporate or simply trying too hard.

Also be sure to steer clear of distracting ensembles. As a rule of thumb, it’s good to avoid any patterns that are overly loud or distracting, clothing that is revealing or anything that you don’t feel comfortable in; the lack of confidence will show. If you are really stressing over what to wear, feel free to reach out to your interviewer or another contact you have at the company. They will be more than happy to guide you in the right direction.

Do: be yourself and dress like someone you would hire for the job. In corporate offices, darker colors with minimal accessories are the safest way to dress for an interview. However, if you are interviewing at somewhere with a “business casual” or “casual” dress code, it’s better to use your best judgement and still lean on the more conservative side. It’s always to be a tad overdressed than under-dressed, after all. You can also do a little snooping on a company’s Facebook or Instagram page to see how their employees dress on a day-to-day basis, then dress a little more formally to be safe.

No One Likes Someone That’s Too Money Driven

Don’t: ask, “So, how much will I make?” too soon. For example, during the first interview, it doesn’t help to seem more interested in your salary and how soon you qualify for the three weeks of vacation, not to mention can you have next Friday off for your cousin’s roommates step-dad’s gall bladder surgery? These kinds of things, especially when they are brought up right away, make you look like you’re taking the job for the wrong reasons. And they definitely don’t make you sound like you are passionate and excited about the work that you would be doing. Instead, focus on how interested you are in the job and how passionate you are about what you do. Companies will recognize when the excitement and results are there, and the appropriate money will always follow.

Do: wait for the person interviewing you to bring salary and benefits up on their own. If they don’t bring it up, near the end of the interview ask when you’ll have an opportunity to discuss the benefits package. In many cases, this is a topic that is discussed in second interviews. (Remember: passion first, money second).

Follow Up, But Don’t Overdo It

Do: be sure to follow up with your interviewer soon after your meeting to thank them and further reiterate that you are interested in pursuing the opportunity. Try to be personal in your thank you -- touching on a few points about the job that you are especially excited about -- that way you will stand out from the crowd. The best time to follow up is typically immediately after your interview, or at the very latest, within a day or so. This will ensure that you are ending your interview on positive note and staying at the top of their mind.

Don’t: stalk your interviewer. Nothing comes across as more desperate than an interviewee who can’t stop bugging you about the status of their job application. Sure, a quick email after one or two weeks of radio silence is more than appropriate when it comes to following up. However, do not leave multiple comments all over the company blog asking for a response, don’t request to be friends with your interviewer on Facebook, and don’t show up at the office uninvited looking for a follow up. After all, you don’t want it to seem like you are desperately grasping for a job or that you have all the time in the world to leave multiple comments per day on every social media account.

If you are looking for a new job and are passionate about what you do (and want to work alongside people who are just as driven and excited as you are), check out our job openings at Hello Innovation!

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