There’s nothing quite like the feeling of walking into an interview, shaking hands with your interviewer, and sitting down for what will likely be one of the most stressful moments of your life. Job interviews are an intense experience, but when you prepare in advance, you can make sure that your interview goes as smoothly as possible so that you land the job you want (and deserve!).
As a hiring manager, I’ve interviewed several candidates. Here are my top 10 tips for how to nail your job interview.
1) Wear something nice (no ripped jeans!)
It may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many candidates show up in jeans, flip flops and wrinkled T-shirts. Dress sharp for your interview and you’ll convey professionalism and confidence. You’ll also have one less thing to worry about when you walk through those doors.
2) Arrive early
You don’t want to seem like you have something better to do than show up for your interview on time—so arrive early. This will give you plenty of time in case you get lost or there’s a delay on your ride over, and will also let your interviewer know that you take them seriously.
3) Prepare (bring copies of your resume!)
To prepare for your job interview, take some time beforehand to figure out what you’ll say when asked why you want to work for that company and how you can contribute. It’s a good idea to find out a little bit about the company before your interview, as well.
4) Maintain eye contact
Eye contact is important in an interview. When an interviewer asks you a question, make sure you maintain eye contact while they are asking it and while you’re answering it. This shows them that you’re confident and that you care about what they have to say.
5) Don't leave out your degree from undergrad
A degree is not a guarantee that you’ll be successful in your interview. However, it can be an easy point of connection between you and your interviewer if you decide to mention it. A lot of hiring managers expect candidates to have some post-graduation experience—even if that’s in a non-related field. If you have relevant skills from previous work or from volunteer experiences, don’t hesitate to highlight them during your conversation!
6) Talk accurately about your experience
Whether you’re a career changer or have had multiple interviews in your industry, interviewers expect candidates with experience. Don’t brag about having 10 years of experience if you’ve only had three jobs; a hiring manager will see right through that. Make sure you don’t exaggerate or embellish on your resume either—hiring managers and recruiters know when someone is overstating their credentials, and they won’t be impressed by it.
7) If you don't know an answer, ask questions!
If you’re not sure of an answer, don’t just guess or give a random response. Instead, ask questions like Would it be okay if I get back to you on that? or I’m not exactly sure how that works; can you explain a little more? This shows your interviewer that you are interested in learning more and really want to nail your interview. Take advantage of their knowledge, and show them why they should choose you for their company!
8) Use stories as examples
The most memorable part of an interview is often not what you say but how you say it. Practice telling stories, or anecdotes, about yourself—the more personal and specific, the better. Remember: You’re always interviewing for a job, so prepare accordingly!
9) Have answers prepared for typical interview questions (e.g. Why are you leaving your current job?)
There’s a reason why interviewers ask these questions—they want to see if you have thoughtful, well-thought-out answers. It’s a job interview, so they’re going to ask you questions. Job candidates should prepare answers for typical interview questions (e.g., Why are you leaving your current job?). Researching common interview questions can help calm nervousness and ensure an impressive performance. Having answers prepared for these commonly asked questions is essential—and it could even give you an edge over other candidates.
10) Don't talk about salary until later in the process
Asking about salary too early can scare a potential employer off and make you look desperate. Be patient and wait until later in your interview process (ideally, after you've been offered an offer) before talking about money. If you ask early, employers may begin comparing what they think they can pay you with what others in your role have made. Hold off until it's clear that both parties are interested in pursuing a future together.
Finally ask questions!
An interview is as much an opportunity for you to learn about a company and culture as it is an evaluation of your skills. An interview isn’t an interrogation, and it shouldn’t feel like one. The best interviewers know how to weave questions into their conversations, instead of asking all their questions at once and then leaving them hanging. Asking thoughtful questions that bring out your interest in a company shows that you’re engaged in what they have to say—which can make all the difference.
At Ujuzingo we help accounting and finance job seekers put their best foot forward as they search for opportunities that meet their skills and career aspirations, while also assisting employers in finding more job-ready applicants. Check out our accounting and finance courses or current job openings.