A bad job interview is uncomfortable, to say the least. You feel like you’re being sold and appraised like an object, but it doesn’t have to be that way! If you do these things in preparation for the big day, hopefully, they’ll alleviate some of your stress.
1. Tie your hair back.
In eighth grade, I tragically gave myself sheepdog bangs with a blunt pair of scissors I found in my parents’ junk drawer. For the next few months, I constantly nervously flicked my bangs out of my face–the uncomfortable head flick that comes with having bangs. The purpose of a job interview is to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are the ideal candidate for the role. Any annoying habits will only serve to distract them from this goal. Playing with your hair, for example, makes you look nervous and uncomfortable – neither of which are qualities an employer is looking for.
Bottom line: The best option is to tie your hair back into a ponytail, sock bun, or top knot.
2. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
I remember when I interviewed for my first internship during my sophomore year of college. I showed up wearing a blazer and pencil skirt while everyone else there, including the interviewers, was dressed much more casually in jeans and T-shirts. Even though I never wore that outfit again during the internship itself, dressing professionally for the interview helped the interviewer see me as a clean, capable future hire.
Bottom line: A skirt suit is a great investment for your wardrobe.
3. Please put the blue eyeliner down.
It is key to be comfortable in an interview, yet you can never truly know the preferences of your interviewer. You might believe purple mascara looks great, but your future employer may not think so. Though it may seem like appearance should be a top priority in an interview, the only thing that the interviewer should care about is whether or not you would be a good fit for their workplace. As long as you dress clean and professionally, they’ll be able to see your great qualities more clearly.
Bottom line: Your personality is what makes you special, so let that shine instead of relying on makeup.
4. When crafting your examples, aim for quality over quantity.
The “tell me about yourself” question is always difficult to answer. You don’t want to simply regurgitate your resume, but you also don’t want to give cliched answers like “I’m a great leader.” Prove it to them instead with an anecdote from your past. Try to avoid saying something like “I have boundless curiosity and ambition.” Instead, focus on recounting a time when you took initiative for a job or research position. Alternatively, share a story about becoming involved in a project because it sparked your interest. By having relatable stories to share, you will make more of an impression on potential employers.
Bottom line: Instead of practicing a list of qualities, rehearse key moments.
5. Be yourself!
Even if you’re the most qualified candidate, you won’t be considered if your personality is dull. Even though it’s challenging, try to be yourself when interviewed. This means being authentic and genuine with your responses while also conveying a bit of humor if possible. There’s no shame in preparing your jokes ahead of time! This will help both you and the interviewer feel more comfortable.
Bottom line: If you want the interviewer to see how charismatic and capable you are, be sure to prepare in advance.
The final step before the interview is to relax. As trite as it may sound, being composure is key to setting the interviewer and yourself at ease. Try taking a couple of deep breaths and steadying yourself so you don’t pace back and forth nervously. Right before going in, listen to a song or two that always gives you confidence boosts!
We want to know: what’s the best piece of interview advice you ever received? Share your wisdom with us in the comments!
If you’re looking for great interview advice, ask Nilofer Merchant! As a corporate director with Social Era Expertise, she’s sure to have some great tips.
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