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Stand out to employers with this expert advice
By Ashley Reynolds
Whether you’re just starting out or are well into your career, interviewing for a job is no easy task. No matter how confident and qualified you are, being evaluated for a position you’re excited about can be really nerve-wracking.
But, rest assured, you’ve got what it takes to nail your next job interview! You just need the right tools to prepare yourself — and we’ve got just the person to help.
Kelli Richards, educational consultant and founder at Capital College and Career, has some great tips to help you fine-tune your interview skills. Study up on her advice and be on your way to nailing down that dream job in no time!
Aside from her basic rules, like dressing for the industry, being armed with copies of your resume, and arriving 10-15 minutes early, Kelli has these tips to offer:
Reflect and practice. First things first, Kelli recommends taking some time to reflect on your past experiences and abilities and practice how you’re going to present them. “Decide on some great examples to share, what your strengths and weaknesses are and how you can add value to the organization,” she advises. “Then, think about who you are and the handful of characteristics you want the employer to associate with you when the interview is done. Finally, spend time to write these out — by preparing and practicing, you help to ease the fear and gain confidence in who you are and what you can offer!”
Do your research. It’s never a good idea to go in blind, so study up on the organization before you interview. “Research the company’s website and the last few times they were in the news in a positive light,” suggests Kelli. “Also, look up the individuals you are meeting with on LinkedIn to learn more about their role in the organization and their professional background. Employers will always ask for your questions, so it’s great to be prepared and show that you’re interested in the company. I recommend writing down at least ten.”
Make a connection. Interviews don’t have to be stuffy. Remember, the person on the other side of that desk is human, too! And making a connection with them isn’t a bad way to start off. “Make it a game to find some common ground with the person interviewing you. If you are able to make a personal connection during the beginning part of the interview, it makes the process more conversational and much more comfortable,” says Kelli.
Paint a picture. Odds are you aren’t the only person interviewing for this position, so it’s important to stand out, and the way you talk about yourself has a lot of influence on that. “As you give examples, be sure to paint a picture of who you are and give enough background detail so they understand,” suggests Kelli. “You want to be memorable, so never give them a generic story they want to hear, give them a great example that’s unique to you.”
Flip the roles. Interviews should be a two-way street, and it’s good to ask questions and learn as you go. “Remember, it’s important to find a job that is a good fit for you,” says Kelli. “So, just as the employers are interviewing you to make sure you fit the organization, you need to make sure that you’re excited about them as well. Ask questions about the culture, management style, training programs, etc.”
Show confidence, not arrogance. Confidence is a great virtue to have, and showing potential employers that you’re enthusiastic and believe in your abilities goes a long way. But, be sure not to over-do it. “Don’t come off as arrogant. You want them to understand that you are humble and confident. It’s important to talk about your successes and why you’re a good candidate, but do so in a way that shows confidence and class,” advises Kelli.
Be polite. This one should be a no brainer, but it’s one of the most important rules in the interview handbook. “Manners never go out of style. So be gracious for the opportunity to interview and be overly polite to all of those you meet throughout the day,” encourages Kelli. “This starts with the initial electronic communication and continues to the follow up ‘thank you’ email and letter.”
Finally, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get the position. There will always be other opportunities! And with these interviewing skills in your back pocket, you’ll be on your way to your dream job in no time. Just take the time to practice and be diligent — your next big career move awaits.
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