Interviewing for a new job can be an intense and nerve-wracking experience. You have to remember the information you want to share with interviewers, along with the questions you want to ask.
And that’s not even considering that you want to show up polished, put-together, and on time.
But we’re here to help. With our handy interview tips for every stage of the interview process, we’ll help you prepare to make the best impression possible on your interviewers. You’ll learn how to make a good impression at a job interview, how to research the hiring company, practice interview questions, and a lot more.
Let’s get started.
Each candidate, company, and interview process will involve slightly different factors that make the right first impression.
There are a few common things you’ll want to project, however. To make a good first impression, you’ll want to appear confident, friendly, and polished. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll also want to be well-researched and prepared to answer common interview questions. Making a good impression is important because it gives you the best chance to understand if this job is the right fit for you.
You’ll be more at ease and ready to assess if the job is a good fit for you — all while making a good first impression.
Performing well at your interview starts long before you set foot in the door. Finding ways to settle your nerves and build confidence will help you give your best interview performance.
Your pre-interview preparation should include lots of research about the company, as well as practice in answering common interview questions. Here are a few other concrete actions you can take ahead of your job interview.
Refresh your memory about the job you’ll be interviewing for by rereading the job description and thinking about how you meet the requirements.
One way to do this is by listing out how you meet each qualification the employer asks for. Even if you don’t perfectly meet 100% of the requirements, this is a great way to organize your work experience around how it meets the employer’s needs.
You’ll also want to have a good understanding of what the company does, and more specifically, what your potential team or department works on regularly.
Review the company’s website, social media accounts, and any other materials you find interesting. Ideally, this research will spark questions you want to ask your interviewer.
Researching your prospective employer also gives you a solid foundation of information from which you can answer questions and build rapport.
It’s smart to practice answering interview questions. Like rehearsing for a play or speech, practicing your interviewing skills calms your nerves, makes you more confident, and ultimately improves your performance.
Here are some common interview questions you can practice answering:
Ask a friend, family member, or mentor to play the role of interviewer. If you’re going to have a phone interview or a video interview on Zoom, try to practice in that format so you can be as comfortable as possible.
In an interview context, an elevator pitch is a brief overview of your experience and qualifications and how they make you the ideal candidate for a job. Typically, you can use the elevator pitch in response to the question, “Tell me about yourself.”
95% of employers say an elevator pitch is important in the hiring process, so it’s well worth spending the time to get it right.
As your research and practice are wrapping up, jot down notes about anecdotes or accomplishments you want to remember for the interview.
Print out your notes and questions, as well as a few hard copies of your resume. 72% of interviewers say resumes are crucial for making hiring decisions, and providing extra copies for them can make a great first impression.
Knowing what to wear to an interview can be a tough call. In general, you want to appear a bit more formal than the company’s typical culture.
Figuring out a company’s dress code can be a bit tricky from a distance, but looking at the company’s career page on their website can usually give you some hints.
For instance, AppSumo’s career page below shows a very casual, relaxed culture, as we can see from the images of their happy hours and group lunches.
In this case, the right interview outfit will likely be business casual. If the company is typically more formal, a suit or formal dress may be more appropriate.
Because it can be difficult to figure out the company’s exact dress code, the most important thing is to make sure you are clean, well-groomed, and present a generally polished and professional appearance.
When it comes time for the actual interview, you’ll likely have a lot on your mind. These tips help you stay focused on giving and receiving the information you need for the interview.
In most cases, it’s wise to arrive at the interview location five or 10 minutes before your scheduled interview time. This gives you enough time to park, find the correct office, and take a few moments to settle yourself.
If you’re doing a video interview, be prepared to start five or so minutes in advance, but don’t log in until the scheduled time.
As the interview begins, use active listening skills to foster a good conversation. Make eye contact, listen carefully, and think about your answers before responding.
Remember that body language is a key component of communication skills, and it plays a big part in active listening as well. Orient yourself toward the interviewer and try to convey a sense of openness.
Making a good impression at a job interview often relies on building a rapport or connection with the hiring manager or interviewer. One easy way to do this is to learn, remember, and use their name when it feels natural throughout the interview.
You can also find connections between common interests or experiences. Don’t stray too far into personal topics, but it’s okay to let a little personality shine through.
Since you’re walking into an unfamiliar workplace culture, play it safe. Make sure your language and conversation topics stay completely professional and work-friendly.
Generally, this will mean avoiding swear words, controversial topics like politics or religion, and off-color jokes.
One of the most important parts of a job interview is being honest about your skills and accomplishments. Give clear answers that emphasize your skills and accomplishments, but also recognize your shortcomings when appropriate.
For instance, companies like Project44 may give you a hands-on skills test ahead of your interview. Candidates for a sales role give a presentation, marketers write a bit of website copy, and engineers write code.
If you are asked to complete one of these tests, be honest about how you approached the project and feel you did on it. It’s one of the best ways to determine if you’re the right fit for the job.
Your work isn’t done when you leave the interview room. There are a few things you need to do to complete the hiring process.
These post-interview tips can help you stand out from the crowd, especially in first-round or longer interviews.
One of the best ways to leave a good impression on the hiring manager is by sending a thank you email after the interview. In this email, thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the job.
The thank-you email doesn’t have to be long or complicated. In fact, it’s a lot easier than writing a cover letter.
Just make sure you send an email rather than a thank-you note through snail mail. In most cases, the physical note will show up a little too late in the hiring process to give you a leg up.
Jot down a few things that you want to remember for your next job interview. Write down what you thought went well and what you want to practice more for the future.
If you felt the interview went well or were told that the hiring manager may call your references, give your references a heads up. This can be a brief email letting them know to expect a call or email from the hiring manager, so they’re prepared to provide a reference for you.
The hiring process can take a long time, and companies may not always stick to the timelines they tell you.
It’s fine to follow up with the hiring manager after a week or so, but don’t contact them too often. You could easily become an annoying job candidate. Instead, focus on preparing for other job interviews.
We get it — job interviews are tough. But with these interview tips, they don’t have to be.
By following these tips, you’ll give yourself some peace of mind on job interview day. You’ll be cool, collected, and confident, ready to make the best first impression.
For more interview tips and help with your job search, check out our Getting Hired Resource Center.