How to Ace that Interview

Hello all!

I know I have left this site with a long hiatus, but I’m back with an important post! 🙂

Recently, I have done a few interviews as I adjust my life and try to follow a new career path to financially support myself. I have done many interviews so far, from phone interviews to meeting in person. Some interviews were quite extensive, and I didn’t get the job on those but I learned a lot! So in hopes that you will ace your own interview, here is advice I pulled from friends, family, and my own experiences:

Use your network pool

For many of the job openings I applied to and mostly got a call back for, I had someone who knew me personally to give me a job referral. It helps get your foot in the door. So if you’re currently looking, always look to friends and family to help start off your job search. You can also use social media to help too. 😀

If you are applying, but have no experience, make sure to grab some recommendation letters from your professors if you’re still in school or a recent graduate. Only ever send those out if it has been requested and make sure to give professors at least a 2 week notice before hand to make those letters.

Research the company

If you get a interview, this will be on of the first things a company will check about you. They want to know how well informed you are about them, though at rare times they might introduce the company and their history themselves, it’s always good to be prepared.

To find out about the company you are applying for, you can either look up their info on their website, or do a simple google search. You can also research salary, and how previous workers liked or disliked working where you want to apply at Glassdoor.

Practice Interviewing

It’s best that you try to review any possible questions that may come your way and bounce your answers off a friend or family member. I did this several times with my own sister and it helped give me a confidence boost once I did my interviews. I did a Google search for a lot of job specific interview questions, but sometimes Google isn’t going to give results. In such a case, I looked for anything related to that job to find questions on. When all else fails, practice the basic questions.

Phone Etiquette

For an interview over the phone, please learn the correct format in which to answer an incoming and outgoing call! You have the potential of giving a very bad impression, because it is a very basic show of etiquette and whether you have it or not. Here is a little example on phone etiquette:

Incoming call:

“Hello, this is [your name]. Who may I ask is calling?”

Never answer the phone with just a “Hello, who is this?” It’s just too informal and can put off the interviewer.

If you scheduled a time for the phone interview and the caller introduces themselves as such, reply afterward with “Good. I was expecting your call.” Just to show you didn’t come in unprepared for the call.

If you do happen to have been busy and it was NOT a SCHEDULED call, and say you’re in the bathroom or doing some other activity, as my own personal rule, I wait till it goes to voice mail, especially since all those numbers are listed as unknown on my caller id. That way I can prep myself for a good and articulated answer after listening to that voice mail, but I do make sure to call at least by the next morning, if not immediately. If you DO happen to pick up when you are busy, just respond with “Sorry, I was/am a little busy at the moment.” Then you can potentially ask for the person to call back at a better time, or you can ask to call them back. You do not for whatever reason describe what you were doing if it’s personal! For example, do not respond with “Oh, sorry, I was just in the bathroom/taking a shower/ etc.” Remember, this is a call from your potential employer, keep all personal information to yourself.

*TIP: Make sure to use a land line for scheduled interview calls to prevent call drops. Also make sure you are in a private room with no noise. If you can’t find a place at home, some libraries offer sound proof rooms, but make sure to reserve those within 24 hrs or earlier for your scheduled phone interview. Keep a pen and paper with you in case you need to write anything down, as well as a copy of your resume on hand.

*TIP: If you’re the anxious type with potential to mess up from said anxiety (I’ve seen it happen, not pretty). Make a list of any potential interview questions and your answers written in a google doc. During the phone interview, have your laptop open to the doc, so if you’re ever nervous and forget your answer, you have it open right in front of you. Type: Ctrl + f and a pop up will open up to search any key words in that doc sheet.

Dress to Impress

Make sure to shower, and fix yourself up well before the interview. This is a top rule for any in person interview. Tidy up your nails, especially if you bite them or have chipped nail polish. I make sure to keep my trimmed and shaped close to my nail bed  with buff and shine. If I use polish I go for nude tones that match or compliment my skin tone.

If your hair seems a bit unkempt, and in need of a trim or color, go to a salon if you can afford it. This is especially important if you are not entering a creative field and going for something more structured.

Speaking of the creative field, it’s important to “Dress for the job you want.” That means you can potentially get away with nice dark solid wash jeans and a good plain t-shirt for men, and a nice top for girls if you are going to do an animation/comic/gaming interview. As a professor once said, “dress too formal here and they may mistake you for an uptight accountant.” For the design field interviews, dress up a bit more formally, but make sure to use color if you can since it shows you’re knowledgeable in that. For any other field, the standard is nice slacks that are pressed and wrinkle free, formal shoes, minimal jewelry for girls, and a nice top with either a structured cardigan or blazer. As a girl, remember to carry a minimalist black purse to the interview, and making sure all the zippers work… I had an issue with that recently myself, but was lucky the interviewer knew me through my friend and shook it off but it could have been bad. Always check for wardrobe functionality! 🙁

During the Interview

At the interview make sure to try to keep calm and speak clearly and naturally. To help with that take a mint or brush your teeth at home before the interview, it give you one less thing to worry about, trust me. Greet the interviewer with a smile, and be prepared to give a nice firm hand shake. Make sure to keep eye contact as much as possible when speaking, and try to smile to show positivity. If you have questions that you haven’t been prepared for, just try to think on it for a bit and give an honest answer.

When the interview is nearing it’s end, the interviewer will probably ask you if you have any questions for them. Never respond and say you have none to ask, always ask. If you truly can’t think of anything, here are a few I usually ask myself.

  1. Are there any benefits?
  2. What are the hours like?
  3. Can you explain or elaborate on the dress code?
  4. Ask the interviewer what they like of their experience working in the company.
  5. If you have a vacation coming up, make sure to state that at this point. Ask if it’s possible to request that time off, if they say no, be polite and accept it.

A good way to tell if things are going well is that the interviewer at a certain point starts speaking to you more than asking you questions. If they start telling you about the company, benefits, and their own experience while working there extensively, and even offer you their card it’s a very good sign. With those you probably can expect another interview or an offer.

*TIP: After every interview, I try to write all the  unique or tricky questions they asked me on a google doc to practice later with a friend. The friend can then critique your answers and give you pointers if you ever come across those types of questions again 😛

As a form of etiquette and good manners make sure to give all your interviewers a thank you email within the week. Good Luck! 😉