Make Your Interview Count

Posted on Feb 26th, 2016 | Career, College

On average, every corporate job opening attracts around 250 applicants, according to Glassdoor. Only about a handful of people score an interview.

If you’re one of the lucky candidates invited to take the next steps toward getting a job, be ready to impress. Career Coach Erik Simon shares his tips on how to ace a job interview.

What’s the best way to prepare for a job interview?

Remember the three C’s: content, connect and confidence. Before beginning your interview, take time to reflect on your key experiences and skills you would like to focus on as you tell the story of who you are and what you can do. Recognize the foundational skills and strengths you have in addition to any industry-specific skills you have developed from you experience.

Research and recognize the employer’s expectations, culture and needs. Go in with an understanding of who the employer is and how your talents will help them accomplish their goals. Search for some of your main interest areas by utilizing the employer’s website, social media and any connections you have.

What are some basic tips for interview attire?

Start professional and conservative, than adapt based on industry and position. Corporate-centered fields expect a look conveying knowledge and innovation while the creative field encourages you to add a creative flair — with professionalism still in mind. Avoid standing out for the wrong reasons. Flashy jewelry or strong cologne could be distracting to the interviewer.

What should you bring with you to a job interview?

Be prepared with your resume, cover letter, references and business cards for all participants. A phone or tablet can also help showcase a personal website or electronic work samples.

Are there common interview mistakes, and how can they be avoided?

Rather than focusing too much on yourself, be sure to bring interviewers into the conversation and connect your experiences, skills and interests to them and your future work. Be confident, but don’t overthink the situation.

What are some good questions to ask your interviewer?

Show active listening while your interviewers are speaking and don’t be afraid to clarify their main points by reiterating their statements. Create natural dialogue as opposed to a question and answer period. Ask genuine questions; don’t inquire because you feel you have to. You are interviewing them as well, so make sure if they are the right fit for you.

What are a few key ways to stand out in an interview?

Be genuine, be yourself and truly appreciate the opportunity to interview. Demonstrate flexibility and adapt on the spot with your answers, showing [your] problem solving and critical thinking abilities.

What’s the best way to follow up after an interview? How long should you wait?

Always obtain business cards or contact info from everyone interviewing you. Communicate as soon as possible using a written letter, email or LinkedIn message to thank the interviewers, depending on your comfort level with people in the room.

Erik Simon is a teacher-turned-career-coach with a passion for life-long learning and holistic student development. He has worked as the Assistant Director of Career Services at Central Michigan University since 2012, where he coordinates student volunteer programs and advises students on their career choices.