Job searches, resumes, cover letters, interviews, follow-up interviews... The job hunt can become pretty overwhelming if you let it. Getting your foot in the door with an interview is essential and yet, some of us might have trouble making that first impression. Lucky for you, I've got some ways to nail the interview and take your career into your own hands.
The most important aspect of your interview happens as soon as you walk in the door. Your first impression on the staff, interviewer, HR person or receptionist. Dress professionally (a.k.a. not like you just rolled out of bed), have fresh breath, smile with those pearly whites and shake hands firmly (preferably a healthy balance between dead fish and iron fist). Make sure they see the best version of you.
Another tip that's also served me well is to be friendly and approachable to anyone and everyone you meet. You never know who you might bump into in the restroom or hallway. While being kind to all the people you come across is just a good philosophy to live by in general, it is especially pertinent when you don't know what the CEO or your possible future boss looks like. Imagine giving someone in your way in the parking lot a dirty look, only to find out that this is the HR person who is interviewing you. Oops.
Additionally, smiling and being friendly toward staff like receptionists and janitors gives off the idea that if you get hired, you'll treat everyone with respect. No one wants to work with a grump.
Once you actually sit down with your interviewer, make sure you sit up straight. Yes, this seems picky, but you want this job, right? Again, be professional in the way you speak and handle yourself. Relax (but not too much!) and have a conversation with the interviewer. This person probably interviews lots of people every day. They don't want to just sit and ask you questions. They want to learn more about you and see if you'll fit in with the other people in the office.
The way I see it, your resume and portfolio show the company what skills you have and that you're competent enough to hold a job. But your interview? That shows them whether you've got the people skills and personality to be successful in the company's particular working environment.
This means that you can and should answer honestly. Be funny (just not crass), be relatable, be you! I once had an interview where I mostly talked about my love for Disney and what I watch on Netflix and I got the job. This is the time to show them the person behind the resume.
After your interview is finished, write the company (and the specific person who interviewed you, if you can) a thank-you note. Tell them how much you enjoyed the conversation and that you look forward to hearing from them about the job. This reminds the company of who you are and differentiates you from the many applicants who got interviews.
Finally, understand rejection. Even if you're perfectly pleasant, they could still decide that you're not what they need. And that's ok! If it's your dream job, keep working toward it! If it's not, then you weren't meant to work there. You're meant for bigger things! Take this as an opportunity to grow and learn, then move on. Be humble and reach out to the company with a 'thank you' and keep those doors open for possible opportunities in the future.