According to one recent study, a stunning 33% of all bosses and hiring managers say that they typically know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether or not they're going to hire someone. Job interviews are all about first impressions and if you're not careful, yours may be over in as little as a minute and a half.
Consider that the average job usually attracts about 250 resumes, which means competition is going to be fierce. Likewise, there WILL be more than one viable candidate for any given job - there will probably be a lot of them, in fact. Therefore, the best way to maximize your first impression and separate yourself from the pack involves focusing less on what your resume says and more on the experience of the interview itself.
In essence, a successful job interview is about preparation above all else. If you really want to make sure you're prepared, here are a few key items to keep in mind.
Practice, Practice, Practice
One of the most important ways to adequately prepare for a job interview involves breaking the experience down into a series of smaller, more manageable pieces – Then practicing each one individually to the best of your ability. Think about exactly what you're going to say, what you’re going to wear, and what you’re going to ask.
Always go online and research the company you're interviewing with, making an effort learn as much about their culture and values as possible. Try to put together an outfit that both reflects those values but that also speaks to the type of person YOU are, too. Remember that 55% of the impact you make when you meet a new person comes from how you dress, act and even how you walk through the door - all before you've even opened your mouth.
Along the same lines, you'll want to practice certain non-verbal queues like body language - things that can actually convey a great deal about yourself without verbally saying anything at all. Give thought to how you're going to sit, who’s going to initiate the dreaded hand shake, etc... All of this goes a long way towards painting a picture of not just the type of worker you are, but the type of person you are as well.
Confidence is King
Part of the reason why this level of practice is so important is because it helps address another critical factor you'll need in a job interview: confidence. Case in point - you already know you're going to be asked a lot of questions during a job interview. Questions like, "Why do you feel you're an appropriate fit for this position?" and "What would you say that your biggest strengths and weaknesses are?" are essentially a foregone conclusion.
Making an effort to really think about your responses will allow you to answer them with not only accuracy, but confidence. It'll also let you get your thoughts in-order, so you can avoid any sudden bouts of nervousness whilst the interview is in progress. Never let yourself get caught off-guard if you can help it.
Likewise, you should absolutely prepare certain questions of your own. It can be as simple as diving deeper into the job position itself or asking higher-level questions about the company’s organizational goals. Once again, this will help convey a great deal to an interviewer about exactly what type of person you are.
All of this will go a long way towards showing that you have real, tangible knowledge of the company you want to work for. Adversely, a lack of knowledge is viewed as the #1 biggest mistake people make during interviews.
Finally, remember that every job interview will be unique in and of itself. To really help sell your qualifications beyond what is listed on your resume, for example, you may need to bring samples of your work or other materials to the interview. Make sure you have those items prepared well in advance so you're not scrambling on your way to the meeting itself.
In the last moments before your interview – remember to take a deep breath, be confident, and own the room.