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I’ve done several job interviews, mostly because Jacob and I move around a lot. It can be nerve-wracking to interview for a new job, and it’s really common for you to feel nauseated and sweaty, which really sucks if you’re in a nice outfit for the interview.
There are many ways to make your interview suck less, though. I’ve only ever interviewed for two jobs that I didn’t receive, and I’ve worked many jobs over the years.
There are seven things to keep in mind when preparing for a job interview.
1. Dress nice
Make sure to dress well for the job you’re looking for. If you’re going for an office job, wear a suit. Even if the place has a casual dress code, you should show that you care enough about the job to look nice for the interview. I worked at a small call center for a garage door company, and for my interview, I wore a pair of black tights, a grey pencil skirt, a nice purple blouse, and a pair of black, close-toed high heels. For someone wanting to wear a masculine outfit, I recommend a pair of nice leather (or faux leather) shoes, suit pants with a matching jacket and/or vest, a matching button-up shirt, and a tie. Get a nice pair of dress socks, too, as your interviewer will probably notice if you’re wearing regular white socks. I recommend asking a manager about dress if you’re applying for a clothing retailer, as some would like you to wear their clothes to show that you fit their style, and others would prefer more professional attire.
For food industry jobs, you can usually get away with a pair of black slacks and a polo shirt or button-up, and plain black shoes.
2. Practice answers to common interview questions.
In any sort of customer service job, you’ll usually be asked, “Describe a time you went above and beyond for a customer.”
One of the questions that I ALWAYS see, and the most common for people to mess up, is “Do you have reliable transportation?” Your instinct may be “Well I take the bus/subway/my roommate drops me off.” The only answer to this question should be a plain and simple “Yes.” Interviewers may not hire someone who doesn’t have their own car, as they assume that this will cause issues with you showing up for work. However, if you want the job, you need to say that you do have reliable transportation, and there is no need to elaborate.
3. Have questions to ask the interviewer.
You’ll always be asked if you have any questions at the end, and most people say no. Because of this, you’ll have an advantage when you have thoughtful questions to ask. One good one is “Is there anything about my application that concerns you?” so that you can address any concerns that the interviewer has. Make sure to ask in a confident manner, though, so that they don’t think that you’re just unsure about yourself.
4. Shake hands with the interviewer.
When you enter, make sure to introduce yourself. Stand up straight and give a firm handshake. It’s more common for women to have limp handshakes, so if you’re a woman with a firm handshake, you’ll stand out in the interviewer’s mind in a positive manner. Don’t just drop your hand in the interviewer’s hand as a shake, make sure to have a firm grip (but don’t break their hand!). Every time I’ve given a firm handshake to a male interviewer, they seem pleasantly surprised at the action.
Don’t be gross. This seems pretty basic, but make sure to shower before your interview, wear deodorant, and brush your teeth. Nobody wants to hire someone that smells bad. On the other hand, don’t go overboard. Don’t wear any sort of overbearing perfume or cologne or hairspray – if I were interviewing someone for any sort of job whilst sitting in a confined space, I would have an allergic reaction to whatever scents they’re wearing. If your interviewer can smell you from across the desk, good or bad smells, they may be less likely to hire you. It’s probably a good idea to check your appearance before you go in, too, so that you know for sure you don’t have something in your teeth or a smudge on your face.
6. Avoid bad habits
It may seem obvious, but don’t go out drinking the night before a big interview. Your interviewer can probably tell if you have a hangover, even if you think they can’t. Likewise, avoid illegal substances at least two weeks ahead of your interview, as there’s a chance you’ll have to take a drug test the same day or the day after if you’re offered the job on the spot. Smoking a cigarette right before the interview is also a bad idea, as you don’t know how your interviewer reacts to the smell of cigarette smoke. I had a manager who was very against smoking, and she was less likely to hire smokers, as it was for a job at a busy restaurant, and she didn’t want a bunch of employees taking five-minute breaks every hour to smoke when there were customers waiting. Also, like me, your interviewer might be allergic to cigarette smoke, so it’s best to avoid smelling of it when you go in. Just wait to smoke until after the interview.
7. Confidence is key!
Something that scares people about interviews is that you are being judged, when in reality, the employer is hopeful that you are the person they’re looking for. They want to hire you, so all you have to do is confirm that you’re the person for the job. If you’re a woman, make sure to stand/sit up straight. Speak clearly and confidently. However, if you’re a man with a female interviewer, you have to make sure you aren’t coming off as aggressive. I’ve been told by so many female managers that their male interviewees will try to dominate the room, standing over her or leaning toward her. Don’t lean on her desk, don’t square your jaw, don’t speak over her. If you give her the respect that she deserves as your superior, then she will be more likely to hire you.
These tips are mainly from my personal experience, which is for retail, restaurant, and office jobs. Different jobs, like my job working at a chicken plant, may not even interview you, but it’s always good to be prepared for any possibility.
What are some things you do to keep your confidence in an interviewer? What’s the worst interview you’ve ever done? Let me know in the comments!