When it comes to job interviews three of the biggest things people want to know are:
What to do before an interview, what to do during an interview, and what to do after an interview.
So basically as much as possible about the entire process…
Because of this, we wanted to dedicate a post specifically to tips that will help you out in these three areas (with some bonus tips at the end).
There is so much advice being shared that it can get overwhelming to decide what’s best for you, and even just find the time to read it all. This is why we wanted to put all our tips together in a digestible format that you can benefit from quickly. We hope it helps!
Being interviewed is a critical aspect of the hiring process. You have already made it past the resume overview and now it is time for you to have what might be the only face-to-face interaction with your potential employer before they decide to hire you or not.
It is essential that you put your best foot forward and allow the interviewer to get to know the person they’d be working with. They learned about your accomplishments from your resume; now show them your personality and how you handle yourself in a professional environment. This means you need to know what to do before an interview, what to do during an interview, and what to do after an interview as well.
Here are 43 items to help you through the interviewing process. It’s also worth preparing for some phone interview questions before this as well.
What to do before an interview
The things to do before an interview are typically a bit more mental than anything else. Usually, the buildup to an interview is much more nerve-wracking than the actual interview itself. With that in mind, shift your focus to preparation and do whatever you can to practice relaxation beforehand! Nerves can be useful if they motivate you to act. So take a deep breath, and read through our suggestions on things to do before an interview that will help you be prepared when you get into the room.
What to do in the days leading up:
- Do your research. Know the company that you are interviewing with so you can answer their questions well and in the right context. It will also show that you are truly interested in the company.
- Know who will be interviewing you, and learn a bit about their background. Check out their LinkedIn, personal website, etc. (You can bet they will be looking you up).
- Prepare questions beforehand. Know the answers to basic questions that they will most likely ask you. Also, come up with a few questions about the company or position you are applying for to show that you’re interested.
- Know how to answer the question, “What will you add to the company by joining it?”. Practice answering. it a few ways.
- Prepare for the different types of interviews: behavior, experiential, or combination. Ask the interviewer beforehand what you should expect from the day.
- Know your strengths and put together a list of them. This is one of the most common interview questions.
- Prepare a solid list of references that you can give your interviewer on the spot.
- Have a story from each place you’ve already worked at that exemplifies one of your strengths. For every strength or skill, you should have a story about how you successfully used it. You will make a far better impression if you can back up your dry list of previous employment with interesting stories that show what you gained from each experience.
- Make a few copies of your resume and put them somewhere where you won’t forget to bring them.
- Search the web. It is likely someone else has interviewed with the company, so search the web and see what others are saying about it. The website Glassdoor not only provides company reviews but also allows users to review the interview experience.
- Make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free. Layout your clothes the night before so you’re not scrambling for a lost sock the day of. If you’re not sure what to wear, get some advice from a relative or friend.
- Look up directions beforehand. Know exactly where you’re going, and how you will get there.
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before. You’ll look better and feel better. This lets you make the best first impression.
What to do the day of:
- Eat a good breakfast. You’ll be more alert and focused.
- Don’t over caffeinate. But don’t under-caffeinate either. Enjoy the same morning beverage you would on a typical day.
- Carry a tissue or handkerchief in your pocket to dry your hands in case you are nervous before you go in.
- Get there a few minutes early. Save yourself some time in case traffic or other travel issues get in the way.
- Turn off your cell phone. It will also prevent you from sneaking a peek out of habit.
That is our list of the most important things to do before an interview. You don’t need to memorize everything on that list. Just make yourself familiar with them and you should be fine. While some of these should just be normal parts of your daily routine, you would be surprised how stress can cause tons of people to forget these before a job interview and even cause job-related PTSD for some of us.
We actually hear from plenty of job-seekers who have taken pieces of this list and put it into a todo format on their phone or on paper. This gives the morning of the big day some structure and allows them to feel confident walking out of the door. If you think that you’re someone who might benefit from this, jot down this list of things to do before a job interview and check them off as you go.
No one ever suffered from being overly prepared!
What to do during an interview
Now that you’re well-rested, prepared and at the designated location a little early – there are a few things to keep in mind once you’re actually in the thick of things. Here’s what to do during an interview:
- Answer the question that was asked. While it may be tempting to include additional information, don’t stray so far that you neglect the question at hand. There will typically be a time in the end to mention anything that wasn’t brought up during the course of the interview.
- Shake the interviewer’s hand. Make eye contact and introduce yourself.
- Let the interviewer show you your chair – now is the time to be submissive, so as to not offend the interviewer.
- Say “Yes,” not “Yeah.” When appropriate, elaborate on your answer. Don’t waste an opportunity to provide more context.
- Take a second before answering a question to show you are putting some thought into your answer. It also gives you time to collect your thoughts in case it’s not the exact question you expected.
- Take notes. Not only does it display engagement, but it also keeps info top of mind so you can reference back to it later in the interview. For example, if they mention a challenge of the role, you can come back to it later to clarify how you can help solve the problem.
- Let your achievements speak for you. Don’t be afraid to mention your accomplishments, but don’t harp on them either. The interviewer has your resume, there’s no need to repeat. Speak more to how those accomplishments make you an asset for the role.
- Ask questions, including asking for a full description of the type of work that you will be doing. It’s important you know the role is right for you as well.
- Keep eye contact. It doesn’t have to be a staring contest, but don’t let your eyes wander off. Maintaining eye contact shows you’re engaged while listening and confident while speaking.
- Start with conversation topics that you are comfortable with. This will allow you to direct the interview to a certain degree and present yourself in a positive light.
- Be yourself. At the end of the day, you should be the right person for the role. Pretending to be something you’re not can lead to both you and the employer being very happy unhappy down the line.
Now that you know what to do during an interview, that brings us to our list of…
What not to do during an interview
While we do highly recommend that you focus your energy on what to do during an interview – make sure that you have at least a preliminary grasp of the no-nos. These can hurt or kill your chances of landing the job, and they are all very preventable. Make it second nature to avoid these and you will be in a very good spot when it’s time to interview. Remember, there are a lot of other people who will be committing these interview sins. This alone can help you make it past the first wave of interviews.
- Talk too quickly.
- Digress from your points.
- Use slang.
- Use words you don’t know the meaning of.
- Be arrogant.
- Talk too about your personal life.
- Give the employer any reason to think you will not perform well.
- Act nervous. You probably will be, but it is best if you take a few seconds and clear your mind; your answers will be less jumbled. If you find yourself getting really nervous, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom to get some air. Don’t take too long but it is better to collect your thoughts than to plow ahead when you can’t focus.
- Fidget. This might be something you have to practice but it is worth it.
- Get defensive. The interviewer will be asking technical questions. Everyone has their weak spots and that is okay – work with it and practice for it.
- Bring coffee.
What to do after an interview
First of all, take a deep breath, you’ve gotten through the most stressful part. While waiting for a response from the hiring manager can definitely be frustrating, knowing what to do after an interview can actually help you influence the outcome. Once you’ve accomplished these steps, you can rest assured that you did everything in your power to get the job offer.
1. Drop off your thank you note.
Always, always thank your interviewer after you’ve left. Email them after you drop off your note. The more contact you have, the more you remain in their minds over the other applicants. It shows you’re thoughtful, motivated, and that you care. The number of interviewers who leave and hope things go well is far too high when they could have more control of their fate by doing this after the job interview is complete.
2. Create a list of items that you did well and that you would like to improve on.
This can be one of the most effective things to do after an interview because it will allow you to improve for future job interviews, or assess general weaknesses that will be helpful in your career. Doing this right after an interview is ideal as well because everything will be fresh. It doesn’t have to be a big fancy list, bullet points will do. The most important thing to remember is to be brutally honest with yourself. Even if you didn’t like the way the interview was conducted, there’s always something you can do to improve. Find it!
3. Follow up appropriately.
Sometimes the interviewer will tell you when they will notify you; other times it will be your responsibility to make the follow-up. This is definitely one of the most important steps to remember regarding what to do after an interview. Sometimes things get crazy at work or papers and files get misplaced. A gentle follow up after a while isn’t going to hurt anything or make you seem desperate (something a lot of job-seekers have expressed concern with). If you were told there was a specific date to expect a response, wait until that date has passed and then reach out.
Managing what to do after an interview is more about keeping your nerves in check and following up correctly. Don’t ever skip these steps because you think the job interview went terribly and there’s no point, you really never know. We’ve heard from so many individuals that have thought the interview was awful, and still got an offer.
Your mind can play tricks on you and exaggerate the smallest of mistakes until it seems like the entire process was a failure. Be confident, if you followed the earlier steps that we recommended you will be fine!
These should be the guidelines that you live by when it comes to handling the job interview process. Remember that what to do before an interview is mostly about general preparation and staying out of your own way.
What to do during an interview is more about being professional at a high level. If you can stay in that mindset you will most likely be fine. Don’t overcomplicate things. You don’t need to remember every single tip on our list to have a successful job interview. A lot of them will come fairly naturally if you prepare well.
What to do after an interview is all about following up when the time is right, and keeping yourself sane. If you don’t have any other job interviews lined up try to take your mind off of things and do something productive. This is a great opportunity to assess some of those weaknesses you should have listed out, or just go see a movie!
Taking it one step further
Lastly, we would highly recommend that you include beefing up your personal brand on the list of things to do before an interview. More and more employers are looking you up online before your interview, and having this under control will go a long way. Head over to our reputation management software page to get started.
With that being said, good luck!