The four aces of job interview prep:
- Ace what you wear: First impressions count—you’ll want to appear polished and professional
- Ace what you bring: Your resumé, cover letter and references should all be neat and up to date
- Ace what you know: Study up on more than just the job description—get a real feel for the company
- Ace what you say: Study your own work experience and know your strengths and weakness
Get interview ready, from head to toe:
- Listen up: Do you ever catch yourself planning out your answer to a question before the asker has even finished speaking? Listen actively so that you don’t miss any vital information or accidentally interrupt your interviewer
- Fend off fidgeting: Avoid wearing rings or other accessories that you know you’ll be tempted to fidget with during the interview
- That’s so extra: Bring multiple copies of your resumé and a list of references with you (even if you haven’t been asked to do so)
- Ditch the drink: Carrying a cup or a bottle in with you can be seen as unprofessional—plus, it gets in the way of handshakes and poses the risk of spilling everywhere
- Java jitters: Watch your caffeine intake on the day of the interview—you might think an extra shot of espresso will make you feel extra alert, but stimulants like caffeine can increase anxiety levels
- Stress-test your outfit: Do those pants dig into you when you sit down? Does that shirt emphasize pit stains? Is that blazer itchy? You don’t want your clothing to detract from your confidence, so test-run your outfit before the big day
- Nose no-nos: Take it easy with scented products—strong perfumes and colognes can overwhelm your interviewer
- Leave the phone alone: Triple-check that your phone is turned off (or is at least on silent mode) before heading into the interview, and keep it out of sight
- Don’t be late: Schedule plenty of time for travel, parking, and even a washroom break before heading into the office
- Keep it subtle: Accessories give you an opportunity to express some personality, but you’re probably better off leaving the novelty tie at home
- Clean it out: If you’re bringing a bag or purse with you into the interview, clean it out before you load it up—you want to showcase your resumé, not your collection of crumpled receipts!
- Break in your shoes: If it’s been ages since you’ve donned your “fancy shoes” (or if they’re brand new), wear them around the house the week leading up to the interview to break them in
Finding your voice:
Interviews can be especially challenging if you’re not used to speaking about yourself for a prolonged period of time—to get comfortable with the art of conversation, try at least one of the following before your next interview.
- Improv or acting workshops: Comedy and performance classes are a fun way to refine your communication skills and as a bonus, they don’t even feel like studying!
- Public speaking classes: Check your local library and community center to see if they offer any drop-in speech classes—this is a great way to practice speaking in front of a supportive audience
- Mock interviews with a friend: Ask a friend or family member to run through a few common interview questions with you—this is a great way to work on that eye contact (it might seem awkward at first, but it’s totally helpful)
- Practicing out loud: Practice interviewing in front of the mirror or record your practice session on your smartphone—pay attention to your body language and try to minimize any “ums” and “uhs”