Acing the Interview: From Start to Finish

Acing the Interview: From Start to Finish

Just about everyone can agree—job interviews are stressful, and it’s hard to know which advice to follow. There is a plethora of information out there about what to bring with you, questions to ask, and how to properly follow-up, but which methods you choose to use depend on you and your potential employer.

That’s why we’ve created a list of best practices for you to choose from. Follow along as we take you through the process from start to finish with the best interview tips the internet has to offer.

Pre-Interview

So, you sent in a resume, held your breath, and finally got the call for an interview. Chances are, you are feeling just as much excitement as you are nervousness. Don’t worry, it’s generally the same for everyone. By focusing on preparing for your interview now, you can keep your mind occupied and ensure that you get a strong start in the hiring process.

To fill your time prior to your interview, you should:

Research the company. Look at their website, their social media pages, and any online reviews or press releases. Get a good understanding of their services and/or products, their customers, and their brand.

  • Tip: Don’t just research the company, research the aspects of the company that best suit your potential role. For example, if you are being interviewed for a CSR position, take a look at what contact methods they offer, what their hours are, and even what their strengths and weaknesses are from an outside point-of-view.

Pick an outfit. Pick something comfortable and presentable, and try it on beforehand to make sure that it still fits and that it isn’t outdated or damaged.

  • Tip: For your first interview, don’t try to match your outfit to the company. For example, if you’re interviewing at a startup that looks fairly relaxed and casual, don’t assume you can wear jeans and a t-shirt to the interview.

Prepare answers and relevant stories. You’ve probably been to an interview before, so you know what kind of questions they will ask. They’ll likely want examples of when you excelled in a previous role or achieved a goal. Think about some of your best accomplishments that may be relevant to this job so you aren’t caught off guard.

  • Tip: Write down some prompts to remind yourself of your examples in case you draw a blank.

Pack a bag. You may want to fill it with:

  • A notebook and two pens.
  • Copies of your resume and cover letter.
  • A list of references and their contact information.
  • The address of the building and name and number of your contact.
  • A portfolio, or if you don’t have one, a personalized document detailing any work that may be relevant to this position. For example, if you are interviewing for a marketing position and have managed social media pages in the past, list them.
  • Anything else they asked you to bring. It is a good idea to confirm whether they would like you to bring anything specific to the interview.

During the Interview

During the interview, you will have plenty of opportunities to make a good impression. If you have been interviewed before, you probably know that you can expect to be asked if you have any questions for your interviewer before you shake hands and part ways.

Often, people are so relieved with the fact that the interview is over, they ask a few general questions out of curiosity and then leave. But asking the right questions can actually give you a boost over the competition. So which questions should you ask? Pick and choose from the following if you don’t know where to start:

  • Is this a new position, or an existing one, and is there opportunity for growth?
  • What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?
  • What qualities would an ideal candidate have for this position?
  • What would my top priorities be?
  • What are some of the challenges of this position?

For your own information, you may also want to ask about:

  • Dress code
  • Benefits
  • Hours
  • Company culture
  • Pay

And, as a last question, don’t forget to ask when you can expect to hear back, if they will be in touch whether you are selected or not, when would be appropriate for you to follow-up, and what their preferred method of contact is.

Post-Interview

Just because you finished the interview doesn’t mean you have done all you can to get the job. There are still a few ways that you can show your interest after the initial meeting, such as:

Send a thank-you note. An email is fine, but if you want to put in the effort, a written note is also acceptable. In it, you should thank the interviewer for their time, reiterate why you are the best candidate, and let them know that you look forward to the next steps. This can be done within 24 hours after the interview.

Let your references know. Don’t just tell them that they may be contacted, explain the position to them, what qualities the company is looking for, and if you talked about any achievements or successes from your time with your reference.

Connect. If the interview went well, consider connecting with the interviewer on LinkedIn or following the company on Twitter. Do not attempt to connect on Facebook or other personal social media platforms.

When You Don’t Get the Job

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you won’t get the job. It happens, and it can be for many different reasons. But you can continue to make a good impression and improve your strategy by using your experience. How? By trying out the following:

Accept rejection gracefully. This means thanking the interviewer for their time, and asking if they have any feedback as to how you could improve, and if you may apply again in the future.

Seek out competition. Contact that business’s competitors to see if they are hiring for your position. Why? If you had the skills to be interviewed by one company in that industry, chances are you may be considered for another.

Learn from it. Take your experience and think about what you did well, what you could do better, and what you want to change for next time. Each interview helps to get you ready for the next one so don’t dismiss the value you can glean from even a rejection.

The Confident Candidate

Getting a job, or even just making a good impression to a potential employer isn’t necessarily about being boastful or selling yourself. It’s about being confident and comfortable in your skills and abilities as a professional. Making your mark and leaving a lasting impression can be a valuable tool in getting referrals and being considered for current and future positions.

What advice will you use in the future? Do you have any tips to add?

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Brittany Foster

Marketing Writer at LawDepot
Brittany is an ardent reader, writer, and blogger.
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