Raise your hand if you want to increase your cash flow, be less bored, and boost your confidence. Now keep your hand raised if you want to have an edge over all your peers when you’re competing for a dream job one day...
These are some of the reasons you’ve probably already been filling out job applications or talking to family friends/neighbors/whoever about snagging a part-time gig. And good for you! You’ll get an early start learning how to juggle work and life, plus every job is an opportunity to network and build references—all things that could open doors to cooler jobs and bigger pay down the road.
But of course, none of the advantages of having a job are possible unless—you guessed it—you own the interview. So how, exactly, do you do that? Think of yourself as a product you have to sell! It sounds weird, but it will put you in the right state of mind. “You need to be thoughtful about how you present yourself, which means everything from your appearance to how you engage with the interviewer,” says Adrien Fraise, founder of Modern Guild, which provides online career coaching.
Steal these secrets to keep your cool and impress the people who matter.
Secret #1: Do your homework.
Showing up for an interview unprepared is like taking a driving test without ever cracking the manual: #FAIL. So give yourself a primer on the job and the business first. A few ways to know your stuff: Has the company been in the news lately? What can you learn from its website? Do you know any employees you can grill about the job? You’ll feel more confident, and your interviewer will be impressed that you did your research!
Secret #2: Questions are as important as answers.
You’re probably pretty busy stressing over how to survive an intense interrogation, but guess what? The questions you ask during an interview may be what sells you to your future employer—they show your enthusiasm for, interest in, and understanding of the job, says Martin Yate, author of Knock ‘Em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide. So here are five common Qs to prep for the hiring manager:
1. What are the standard responsibilities of the job?
2. What are the biggest challenges I may face on the job?
3. What kind of training will I get in this job?
4. What skills are important to succeeding in this job?
5. What’s your timeline for the next steps in the hiring process?
Secret #3: Want the job? Dress the part.
These tips will guide you while you dig through your closet . . . and check yourself in the mirror.
Secret #4: It pays to get there early.
When you’re in a rush, you start off frazzled. So arrive 15 minutes early and try this calming breathing exercise:
1. Find a place to sit (like a chair in the lobby or across the street at a coffee shop).
2. Take slow, deep breaths: Inhale (count 1-2-3-4-5); then exhale (1-2-3-4-5).
3. Repeat that 5-10 times!
Secret #5: Don't skip breakfast.
On interview day, make sure you’re running on healthy fuel, like peanut-butter toast and a banana, or cereal with fruit and milk. It’ll give you the energy to perform at your peak!
Secret #6: Mind your body language.
Secret #7: A thank-you note can get you (or cost you) the job.
No joke: Many employers will take you out of the running if you don’t send a “thank you.” Wait no longer than 24 hours to e-mail it, pop it in the mail, or (extra-credit alert!) do both. Try something like . . .
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me on [DATE]. I’m very interested in working at [COMPANY]. I think I could contribute [JOB ASSET YOU ALREADY HAVE], and I’m excited to learn [JOB SKILL YOU NEED TO ACQUIRE]. I look forward to hearing from you.
[YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME]