When you find yourself lucky enough to land an interview, your first instinct is probably to find out how you can best avoid screwing it up. Most likely, you'll begin searching tips online or looking for video tutorials.
However, with so many people chiming in on what you should and should not do in front of a prospective employer, you can never be quite sure which advice to take as the gospel truth. With that in mind, and time on our hands, we've compiled some of the best tips to keep in mind when heading into the lion's den. Here is a series of interviewing tips from best of the best:
1. Finding Out Compensation - MSN
"Compensation is almost always one of the key factors an employer or job seeker considers in deciding whether to extend or accept a job offer. So it seems perfectly logical to ask the interviewer how much the position pays. After all, why waste everyone's time if you and the employer are in completely different ballparks? Unfortunately, there are some aspects of job interviews in which social convention trumps common sense, and salary is one of them. A job applicant's question about compensation is one of the reasons most frequently cited by employers for rejecting candidates. So keep your curiosity in check until you get a job offer."
Many of us make this mistake, which is perhaps the hardest to resist. After all, how do you search for a job without naming your compensation? It appears the answer is, "with patience." You don't want to offend your interviewer while they're still trying to get to know you. So, when the inevitable, "Do you have any questions for me?" segment comes up, don't ask what your salary will look like, or that prospective employer might respond with the number zero.
2. Highlight Important Accomplishments - Fast Company
"Have a story ready that illustrates your best professional qualities. For example, if you tell an interviewer that people describe you as creative, provide a brief story that shows how you have been creative in achieving your goals. Stories are powerful and are what people remember most. A good interviewee will memorize a 60-second commercial that clearly demonstrates why he or she is the best person for the job."
Supporting stories that highlight your past success will always strengthen your cause. Any person can claim to be responsible and trustworthy (which, by the way, are vague claims to begin with), but a personal account or story that exemplifies your best traits could put you in the position to further impress your interviewer.
3. Nervousness - AOL
"There's nothing wrong with feeling nervous. It's natural to be a little uneasy at an important interview. Don't tell the interviewer if you have butterflies in your stomach, though. Your job in the interview is to portray a confident and professional demeanor. You won't win any points by admitting your nerves or blaming them for any failures in your performance."
To avoid appearing nervous is probably the greatest piece of common sense advice you will take away with you. You can imagine an interview scenario so easily. The man or woman you're supposed to meet takes 20 minutes to come get you from the lobby, which might make you even more tense. When they finally bring you into their office, they ask how you're doing and invite you have a seat.
You let out a nervous laugh and then verbally confirm how nervous you are. For some, it's a natural reaction to become flustered in uncomfortable situations, but it's best to avoid it during your interview.
4. Through Their Eyes - Forbes
"One day I was conducting interviews for an open position in my department. During an interview it became very obvious that a candidate hadn’t even bothered to read the entire job description that was posted online. What that told me is that the candidate wasn’t very interested in the position. It also gave me some insight into what their work habits might be, for example… I immediately imagined they were probably the type of person who waited until the last minute to get things done, who didn’t complete adequate research or analysis for projects, who didn’t anticipate questions that could be asked when presenting in front of groups, etc."
This tip is beneficial because it provides you with a different point of view, from the interviewer's shoes. The most generic of interview tips advise you to employ a firm handshake and dress professionally, as well as other miscellaneous advice that gears you away from turning off your potential soon-to-be employer.
It may be hard to imagine someone making snap judgements that could instantly deter their decision to hire you, but this testimonial from Forbes contributor, Lisa Quast, shows us how interviewers might already have their minds made up while still conducting the interview. So, it's important to do everything possible to avoid missing out on a job opportunity because of the assumptions of the interviewer. Be sure to do you research well ahead of time.
My biggest weakness is... (something directly related to the job).
"What's your weakness?" is one of the most dreaded interview questions. There's no ideal response, but you should avoid admitting to a weakness that might affect your ability to get the job done. If the position requires a lot of creativity, and you reveal that you are not in tune with your creative side, you can assume that you've taken yourself out of the running. Choose a weakness unrelated to the position you're interviewing for and explain how you're working to improve it.
Contrary to what AOL says, CBS suggests the best way to respond to this dreaded question:
Note something you're actively working on.
"Showing that you're self-aware and have pinpointed a personal weakness isn't a bad thing -- as long as you're working to correct it," says Quast. She provides this example: "I used to be incredibly nervous when it came to public speaking. Last year I joined Toastmaster's and realized how much fun it could be once I better understood the process and how to prepare for presentations. Now I actually look forward to speaking in front of groups." If you're able to defend your weakness and prove that it's a work-in-progress, your confession becomes advantageous.
Photo via Forbes/Wiki Commons