Face-to-face interviews can be intimidating and scary, no matter how many times you have been through them. Your confidence, communication skills, and the necessary qualifications for the job will be evaluated the moment you start an interview. Preparing effectively can ensure that you present yourself as a professional who has skills that provide value to the company.

So, let’s think about the interview process at three distinct phases: your research and practice in the days leading up to the actual interview, your performance the day of the interview, and your follow-up afterward to gauge your success. How you prepare for the interview and what you do afterwards is just as important as when you’re sitting in the interview room.

Here are some tips to get yourself ready for a killer face-to-face interview:

Phase 1: Preparation

Research the company. Check out their Facebook and LinkedIn company pages for updates and current news. You may also be able to research the interviewer to learn more about them.

Anticipate interview questions and practice. You can probably guess the types of interview questions you will be asked by digging into the job description and company website. Write them down and prepare answers ahead of time.

Prepare meaningful questions to ask the employer. You’re interviewing the company just as they are interviewing you. Create questions that you want the answer to and will be helpful in deciding if you receive a job offer. Ask about expectations for the first three months, communication style the manager prefers, and general organization questions or questions about the interviewer’s experience within the company.

 Print extra copies of your resume. Just in case your interviewer misplaces your original (hey, no one’s perfect!) or if you end up meeting other execs that want to know more about your professional background.

Have stories ready. Anecdotes are great illustrations that describe you beyond your resume. For everything positive you’re going to say about yourself, be prepared to have an example to illustrate and back it up. Describe specific actions and solutions you took in tricky situations.

 Phase 2: Interview Day

Strive to impress in everything you do. Make an impact from the second you walk in the door. Be punctual and dress like a grown-up professional. Mind your body language—watch the fidgeting—and shake hands with confidence. When you look and act the part, you’ll already be at an advantage that the rest of it will come easily.

 Appearances make a difference. Dress to impress but don’t overdo it. A suit is always appropriate and shows your professionalism. Avoid bright colors and bold prints or anything that could distract the interviewer from what you are saying.

 The first impression. You want your handshake to be firm, but not so tight that it feels like you are trying to break bones. Remember to speak clearly, and try to convey enthusiasm and energy through your tone of voice. Smiling helps (really, it does!) Smile as much as possible during the conversation. Throughout the interview, make eye contact with your interviewer.

Build a relationship.  Treat your interview like a conversation. Establish a rapport. Find a way to let your interviewer talk about themselves or the company; it will ease your nerves and also get them to open up a bit. Remember to listen and engage—conversation is a two-way street. Being interested can often be more important than being interesting.

 Show enthusiasm for the job.  Show interest in the position, the industry, or the company. Don’t be so enthusiastic that you bubble over and talk through every silence with your nervousness, but do express how excited you feel about the opportunity and the potential privilege of working there.

Anticipate problems you’ll be asked to solve.  You will set yourself apart from the crowd by offering solutions to the employer’s problems. Have ideas ready to describe how you will help solve issues specific to the department that is hiring. Show the value of what you bring to the table—in concrete terms. Make your interview not about you personally, but about what you can do for this employer.

Phase 3. The Follow-Up

The next steps.  At the end of the interview, it’s okay to ask about the next step in their decision-making. You can ask something like, “So, can I expect that HR will get in touch with me for subsequent actions?” By saying this, you convey confidence that your interview has gone in the right direction and you are looking forward to what lies ahead.

Don’t bring up compensation and benefits.  Although finances are crucial, interviewers do not want it to be the focus of your attention as a potential employee of our organization, because it may look like your faithfulness would be attributed to money rather than the role itself. Give the interviewer the opportunity to disclose that information.

Check out these helpful links for more info about how to ace your face-to-face interview:

  1. 7 steps to rock your face-to-face interview by The Job Network
  2. 9 Tips That Will Help You Ace Your Next Job Interview by inc.com


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