Even though most jobs don’t require smooth talking skills, getting through the interview often does. You don’t have to answer every interview question perfectly, but you can improve your interview skills. Here are 10 interview skills that will help you land the job.
1. Do your background research.
This may not seem like an actual interview skill, but it is. If you walk into an interview saying, “Now, what do you do again?” and “Do you guys have funding yet?” you’re doomed before you begin. No matter how sparkly your personality is, you have to do the background research.
2. Be polite to everyone.
3. Watch your body language.
This one is a bit harder. My Inc. colleague Minda Zetlin listed 21 body language mistakes that people make. Some of them are especially important in an interview. For instance:
- Lean in or sit up straight to show you’re interested.
- Keep eye contact so you look honest, but don’t just lock in a stare, because then you look aggressive.
- Don’t nod too much. Yes, you want to show agreement, but too many nods and you start to look like you don’t truly care.
4. Watch your real language.
If you have a potty mouth, save it for your friends, and not for the interview. If the interviewer is letting the f-bombs fly, you can feel more comfortable doing the same, but otherwise, use words that express your actual feelings and ideas.
5. Review your own resume.
You know what you did, right? Are you sure? I once got caught off guard in an interview when the hiring manager asked me a specific question about an accomplishment on my resume. I had to stumble for a minute before my brain latched on to what she was talking about. Don’t make that mistake. Refresh your memory, especially old jobs.
6. Prepare for standard questions.
7. Prepare your wardrobe.
Yes, people judge you by what you’re wearing. Most interviewers aren’t going to care the brand of your jacket, or if the heel of your shoe is scuffed, but you should be dressed appropriately. Generally, for most professional jobs that means a suit, or one step lower. If you’re concerned, go to their parking lot before the interview and watch people come out. If their style is business casual, you should wear a suit. If they are wearing jean and flip flops, you’re probably fine in business casual, but better to be overdressed than underdressed, in most industries.
8. Prepare your questions.
Don’t ask questions that could be answered by looking at the company website. Do ask questions about the challenges of the position, what success looks like, and how this position fits in with the organization’s goals. Remember, you want to look like you’re really interested in succeeding in this position, and you need this information to do so.
9. Don’t badmouth your former employer.
10. Don’t forget the thank you card.
It doesn’t have to be a card anymore; an email will do just fine. You can get hired without one, but it’s a nice gesture to send a quick follow up email to the hiring manager and recruiter. It keeps you in their minds and shows your politeness, which brings this full circle. You begin by being nice to everyone, and you end the interview by being nice to everyone, and you increase your chances.
Don’t panic at the thought of your next interview. Prepare and in advance, and you’ll do a great job.