Having experience as both an applicant and an interviewer, here are some tips I am confident will help the average job seeker get that perfect job.
Make sure you know about the place you are interviewing. If you walk in as an interviewer and do not know basic information about the business/school/etc. that you are applying for, it comes off as, “I just applied for this and any other job with a similar title in hopes of getting a job somewhere. I don’t really care if it’s here or somewhere else.” It’s a lot more impressive to the interviewer if you show that you’ve done your homework and are actually interested and hopefully even eager to have the opportunity to work there.
“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” I’m a true believer of this statement. Go in dressed professionally snazzy. Not only will you look like you know what’s up, looking spiffy can actually boost your confidence prior to and during the interview, and confidence is an attractive feature in a potential employee.
Bring resumes, portfolios, anything you think would help illustrate the skills and experience you could bring to their company. A job interview is basically like a sales pitch, and it’s best to come over prepared for it. I’m pretty certain that bringing in a well-prepared, job-tailored portfolio to my last job interview is what helped me get the job over some of the other candidates. I was able to show actual data, actual lessons, personal notes of appreciation written by advisors (in addition to letters of recommendation), student work, certificates of professional development, etc. It basically became the proof to complement my resume.
Ask questions. Job interviews are not just for the interviewers. This is your opportunity to ask questions which will help you decide if the job is a good fit for you. It’s a very disappointing feeling to get the job you thought you wanted, only to find out in the first week of work that it was nothing like you were expecting. To avoid that experience, have some well crafted questions (that you actually care to know the answers to!) ready to go for the interview.
Relax. Don’t go in too eager, too nervous, too overbearing, too anything! Hopefully you’ve practiced for the interview, rehearsing with a friend so that you get a sense for what kind of questions you might be asked, and so that you have time to prepare some good answers for those questions you weren’t really expecting. By Murphy’s Law, there’s a good chance it will come up in your actual interview. So I guess if you have to be “too” something, it should be too prepared!
DON’T (more for entertainment value, and actual, true stories)
Avoid saying, “I’m really interested in this job because I’ve always wanted to coach football.” when the job is for the Social Studies Teacher position. Maybe – maybe – that would be OK in a one-on-one with the head football coach. But not with the Social Studies Department Head and Principal. Basically, you shouldn’t imply in anything you say that this job would just be the stepping stone or hoop to jump through for what you really want to do.
Try not to be memorable for anything negative or too strange/quirky. You don’t want to be referred to in debriefing as the guy who was sweating profusely or the gal who talked a lot about her many cats
You shouldn’t wear overly revealing clothing. Unless, I guess, it’s a job that requires that. It goes back to “Dress for the job you want.”
It’s a bad idea to tell the interviewers that, “you’re not sure you really want this job,” and that, “you probably already have this other one that you interviewed for earlier.” Remember, the goal is to sound eager, not “I’m too cool for you, this is really a waste of my time.” There’s a word for those type of people, and it’s not for pleasant company. Suffice to say, it won’t help you get the job.