Interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially since the advent of the behavioral interview when employers started adding a whole new level of questions to help determine not only your skill-set, experience, and goals, but to better understand your personality and how you handle certain situations. Here are the top 12 tips on how to ace that interview:
1. Do your homework. Before you ever set foot through the door, you should learn as much as you can about the company you’re applying with. Usually, the company’s website is a great place to gain that information. Asking questions about the company and wanting to learn more shows the employer that you’re not just interested in the position, but in the company itself and the leadership team.
2. Be prepared. Know the name of the person you’re interviewing with and use it. Write down questions you would like to ask. Often, the interviewer is not only looking for how you meet the skill-set, but they’re assessing your behavioral patterns as well, so be prepared to provide detailed and specific responses.
3. Dress appropriately. Pay attention to your fingernails and to your shoes; a great suit losses its power if the shoes are worn and scuffed.
4. Be on time. This means showing up at least 20 minutes ahead of your appointment. However, it’s also important if you are interviewing at the property level that you get there one hour in advance of that time so you can walk all of the public space, meeting areas, outlets and guest floors. This will give you a feeling for the property and a frame of reference before you start the conversation.
5. Keep a happy medium. Don’t ramble. Questions like, “Tell me about yourself” aren’t an opening for you to talk about your childhood. Keep your responses on focus; discuss only that which is relevant to the job and company you’re applying for. Be succinct, but don’t be too short with information. Talking too little is as bad as talking too much.
6. Stay true to the message. Your message, in this instance, is “Here is what I have done and what I can do for you and how I’ll deliver a strong return on your investment in hiring me.” You should focus on your strengths, experience, and goals, and how they fit with the position and company.
7. Avoid talking money or benefits. These discussions are best left for after the job has been offered. Focusing too much on them gives the impression that money and perks are all that you’re interested in. Even worse, by discussing salary at this phase, you may just give the employer the ammunition they need to screen you out.
8. Be careful when talking about your current/previous employer. While some may think that criticizing their past employers shows them as go-getters keen to move ahead, in truth, all it does is paint you as a malcontent. So stick to the old adage: “If you can’t say something positive, don’t say anything at all.”
9. Smile and stay calm. Yes, you’re going to be nervous. Be aware of your body language; sit up straight, don’t fidget, don’t cross your arms or legs. Smile when you talk. Look confident, make eye contact, and speak clearly and succinctly. Don’t rush your words and don’t interrupt the interviewer.
10. Assume that for everyone you meet, it is “Interview Number 1.” That means don’t be rude to the receptionist, and when the interviewer says, “I’d like you to meet my boss,” assume that the boss has never seen your credentials. Everything you say and do while you’re in that environment is part of the interview, so stay on your toes and act the part.
11. It is important that you ask the similar questions to each person you meet.
Remember that you will have a new opportunity to sell your skills to each person you meet in the interview process: Tell me about yourself, tell me about the challenges of the department/property/company, what are you goals for the property/company, where does the company/hotel/department currently stand in relationship to budget vs. last year, etc. This will give you a good indication if the team is on the same page and going in the same direction, which will be imperative to your success, should you join the team.
12. Don’t forget to ask for the job! Be sure to ask, “What is the next step in the interview process?” The answer will provide you with a very clear indication of how successful your interview went!
Interviewing is a learned skill. By taking these 12 tips to heart, you will be well on your way to ensuring that for the next interview you go on, you’ll make a great impression.