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Interviewing can be complicated and frustrating. These interview tips are designed to help job seekers in any industry.

Don’t Carry Too Much

Typically, the first interaction of an interview is a handshake. If your hands are full of binders and bags, the handshake can be awkward. Only take the essentials, which include a few copies of your resume.

Hygiene Matters

Good hygiene goes beyond using deodorant and bathing. Many candidates get really nervous before an interview and sometimes sweat more than usual. Avoid foods that linger in your sweat glands, like garlic, onions, and curry for a day or two before your interview. You want to look and smell your best!

No Social Stalking!

It is a great idea to research the hiring manager before your interview. Take a look at the interviewers LinkedIn profiles and learn a little about them before your interview. Keep in mind that depending on your LinkedIn settings, they may see that you viewed their profile. That is ok! However, if they see that you viewed their profile 22 times, that might be a bit scary. Research; do not stalk!

Prepare Good Questions!

The key here is “good”. Do not take a list of questions that you could easily find answers to on the company website. It is better to take only 2-3 good questions than to take a list of 15 questions that don’t need to be answered by a hiring manager. Take the time to prepare valuable questions that really give you insight into the company, team, culture, and job.

Ditch the Smart Watch!

If you wear a smart watch, I recommend taking it off for your interview. By habit, we look at them every time they vibrate. You don’t need distractions during your interview. During an interview is not the time to care if you get 250 steps this hour. It is not the time to get a reminder that you need to pick up chicken on your way home. And it is definitely not the time your watch needs to congratulate you on being in the cardo or fat burning zone. Yes, your heart rate may be 140 because you are nervous; you don’t need confirmation of exactly how nervous you are! And if you need another reason to ditch it, keep in mind that every time you look at it you will give the interviewers the impression that you are ready to leave. Just avoid the distraction and temptation! 

Smile and Make Eye Contact with EVERYONE!

After your interview, the interviewers will likely huddle up and debrief. An employee who was not in the interview may pass by and ask what they are up to. Imagine this conversation. “Oh, we were just talking about Patty”. Other employee says, “Who is Patty”? Interviewer says, “ The lady we just interviewed for job XYZ”. Other employee says, “Oh, that’s who that was. I saw her earlier and she looked really excited to be here”.  NAILED IT! Smile at everyone because you never know whose input might be part of the decision process.

On Time is Late! Too Early is Inconvenient!

Be no more than 15 minutes early and no less than 5 minutes early.

Maximize Lobby Time!

If you must wait in the lobby for a few minutes, use this time wisely. Pick up a company brochure or trade magazine. Be reading and learning while you wait. This will make a much better impression than the impression of you scrolling through Facebook. Take something small and business oriented with you to read if you are concerned no content will be available. If you don’t want to read, sit there professionally smiling and making eye contact with everyone who passes you. Just do not sit there playing on your phone or looking bored.

Plan for the Interview to Last 30 Minutes Longer than Scheduled!

If possible, schedule yourself an extra 30 minutes to complete the interview. You don’t want the interviewers to feel rushed and having a buffer will make you more comfortable with the fact that you ditched your watch.

Dress Professionally!

This includes ironing! It also includes selecting appropriate shoes. Remember that you are going on an interview, not to the car wash and not on a date.

Smell Like You!

In other words, we already covered that you will have impeccable hygiene, so there is no need to douse yourself in perfume or cologne or smell-good lotion!

Proactively Prepare to Minimize Your Nervous Habits!

This interview tip requires self awareness! If you twirl your hair when you are nervous, consider pulling some or all of it back. If you crack your knuckles when you are nervous, crack them all at the very last second before you enter the lobby. If you click pens when you are nervous, take a pen that does not click. You get the point!

Send a Thank You Note

Some people don’t believe thank you notes are necessary anymore. However, I am from the south (if you have ever heard me speak you know this to be true) and we send a thank you a note for EVERYTHING! Maybe other places do too, but I have only lived in the south so I can’t know for sure about other regions. But that is not really why I recommend sending a thank you note. The way I look at it, you don’t know if the interviewer expects one. So, to be safe, send one. You are far more likely to NOT get a job because you did NOT send a thank you note than to NOT get a job because you DID send a thank you. Keep SSS in mind when you write the note- short, simple, sincere.

Proofread Your Thank You Note

Your resume was good enough to get you the interview. You nailed the interview and are super excited. Don’t ruin it by sending a thank you note full of slang, grammar errors, or misspelled words.

Eat, But Not Too Much

Eat enough before your interview so your stomach is not growling but don’t eat so much that you are lethargic and lazy feeling. You want to be energetic and engaged.

Answer the Question!

One of the surest ways to not get a job is to not answer the interviewer’s questions. Don’t let your thoughts stray away from the question. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question. BUT answer the question! This is one of my pet peeves and I can assure you it ranks highly on most hiring manager’s list of deal breakers.

Be Honest and Be Yourself!

Do not try to be who you think the interviewer wants you to be. Just be yourself. You deserve to work in a company where you will excel and fit in and be valued. That may not happen if you lie your way into a job offer or fake a personality that is not really yours. If you are looking for a long-term job, then being a good fit matters. The only way you and a manager can determine if a job is a good fit is if you are yourself.

Get Your Head in the Game!

This is my favorite interview tip. This is especially important for job seekers who have had some bad luck recently and might be feeling a little down, a little unworthy, a bit desperate, or more nervous than usual. What I mean by “get your head in the game” is go find your mojo. Everyone’s technique for this is different, but I will share a bit about mine. When I need to get my head in the game, I have a few go-to tactics. My most common tactic is to turn on “Simply the Best” (by Tina Turner) as loud as possible and dance around the room. This song takes me back of my UofSC years (Go Gamecocks) and I feel like I can conquer the world. Three minutes is all it takes. If I need more of an ego pick-me-up versus an energy/fighter pick-me-up, I read testimonials or reviews that people have left on my social media profiles. These remind me that I am good at what I do; I add value! I matter! This confidence is what all job seekers need to feel when they enter an interview. We will discuss confidence later but find what gests your head in the game and DO IT before your interview. Your mindset and your mood have a huge impact on how well you interview!

Be Confident, Not Arrogant!

You’ve got your head in the game and you feel like you are going to nail your interview. AWESOME! Confidence is an important trait in most interviews; after all, if you don’t think you can do the job, why on earth should the manager think you can do the job? A bit of caution regarding your new found confidence; don’t let it come across as arrogance. Demonstrate your value and confirm your ability to do the job, but do not start telling the hiring manager how he should do his job or how everyone you have ever worked with was intimated by your brilliance. Be confident; not arrogant.

Be Positive! 

There is no room for negativity in the workplace, let alone during an interview. Do not, I repeat, do not speak negatively about former bosses, coworkers, employers, etc. Sometimes it is hard to put a positive spin on a negative experience. It may take some practice. But then practice you must! 

Speak Universally

Avoid answering questions with too much information that is specific to your last job or industry. Try to use universal language that relates to most companies and industries. Excessive use of unfamiliar terms or acronyms can confuse the interviewer and limit the value of the information you provided.

Speak Professionally

Use correct grammar and avoid slang. Speak clearly and concisely. Try not to talk too fast (I personally have this issue, so I understand how hard this may be….but try!!).

Express Interest

If you want the job, the manager needs to know that you want the job. Express your interest. Don’t leave the manager wondering how you think the interview went. You don’t have to the put the manager on the spot, but make sure he/she knows how you feel. 

Turn Off Your Cell Phone!

Enough said about this interview tip!

Do Not Chew Gum!

This interview tip is self explanatory!