How to Interview Like a Superstar

young women at an interview

You’ve made it in the door, now it’s your moment of truth. Interviews are easy! You just have to be prepared and have a positive attitude. After all, this could be the greatest opportunity you’ve ever had. Get yourself ready with these sure-fire methods for a successful interview.

Before the Interview

  • What to wear? It used to be said that it was better to overdress for an interview than to underdress. That’s still sound advice. Take into account what role you are interviewing for. The dress code will vary by position. For professionals (account executives, marketing, sales, business development, or manager level positions), wear something nice. It might not have to be a suit, but something pretty close. When in doubt as a strategic professional, overdress.
  • Be on time! Take into account traffic, bad directions and parking challenges. If you’ve never been to the company before, drive there ahead of time. It’s a pain, but you can’t change a bad first impression by uttering, “I’m sorry I’m late. I got lost”.
  • Arm yourself with information. Before you head off to the interview, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the company’s Web site, business model and their products and/or services. Knowing general information about the company will make you look proactive and genuinely interested in the position. “Google” the company to find its Web site; then “Google News” the company to find out what the media are saying about the company.
  • Check yourself in the mirror. Take a quick glance at your reflection before entering the office. Toothpaste on your upper lip or spaghetti sauce on your tie will distract the interviewer from hearing about your stellar background.
  • Have a good handshake. There is no excuse for a wet-noodle handshake. If you serve up one of these to your interviewer, you’ll be branded for life. Test out a strong handshake on friends until you get it right.

During the Interview

  • Have a positive attitude. This is the most important attribute to a potential employer. You can have the best skills out there, but if you don’t sound excited about the job and the company, the interviewer will find someone else who is.
  • Maintain good eye contact. Positive body language is key in an interview because it is a telltale sign of your listening and communication skills. If you get nervous and must look away for a few seconds, act like you are pondering the question or a response.
  • Sell yourself, but don’t be cocky. When discussing your successes, be sure to give credit where credit is due. Paint yourself as a team player and you’ll be recognized for it.
  • Connect your skills with the job. When the interviewer talks about particular skills that a successful candidate must possess, take this opportunity to chronicle an experience that demonstrates how those skills have helped your obtain positive results in the past.
  • Fake thinking on your feet. Before the interview, come up with some “impromptu” ideas and/or recommendations that could improve the company’s site design, content or navigation elements. If you are applying for a sales or marketing position, offer suggestions about a viral marketing campaign or e-mail promotion.
  • Don’t speak ill of former employers. Interviewers sometimes encourage candidates to spill the beans about a former manager or employer, so stay on your toes before you say something you’ll regret. It’s okay to bring up general issues of an old company, but recommend solutions and end on a positive note.

Closing the Interview

  • Have one “remember me” statement. You need something to distinguish you from all the other candidates, so spend some time and craft one very clever, unique and memorable answer. Candidates who are remembered are the candidates who get hired.
  • Ask questions. A strong candidate comes to an interview with several specific questions in mind. For example, ask the interviewer to relate a company experience that he or she believes has helped them professionally.
  • Have a timeline in mind. If you’re right for the job, it’s likely the interviewer will ask when you could potentially start the job. If you “don’t know” or it could “be a month or so”, your ranking on the candidate list could slip considerably.
  • Ask for a business card. Following the interview, it is customary to send a thank you note; request a business card from each person you meet.

The Follow-Up

  • Be timely and specific when sending a thank-you note. Send an email thank-you within the first 24-hours following your interview. In addition, for each different person you met with, cite a specific detail or conversation blurb in your email to him or her. They’ll know you were paying attention and will appreciate the personal touch.

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