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There is no doubt about it that the world is still a bit of a mess as the chaos from the last three years of Covid starts to tamper down. While the unemployment rate is starting to even out, having hit over 8% at the peak of Covid lockdowns back in 2020, now dropping down to about 3.5% in February of 2023, that still leaves hundreds of thousands of people without jobs, or with jobs that aren’t enough to actually cover the bills. Just look at the stats of people who have to deal with food insecurity.
So when you get an interview, it’s important to try to do the best you can to give yourself a better chance of succeeding.
Having had many interviews and, as one friend says, the ability to pull a job out of thin air, here are my best tips that are still relevant today.
Dress to impress
People are visual, and first impressions can really make or break you. Whether you’re applying for a job at your local fast food joint, an office job, or anything in between, it is important to dress your best. That means wearing dress clothes, even if it’s a job where you wouldn’t actually be wearing that type of thing while you’re working.
When you take the time to look presentable, it raises your chances. Here is what I recommend wearing;
- Dress pants, preferably a plain dark color
- A nice shirt, be it a blouse or a button down
- Nice shoes. We’re talking simple, preferably not heels, or if they are, very short ones, no sandals, no runners. Show them you mean business.
- A blazer or suit jacket if you have them, and a tie if you are wearing a button-down.
Here are the other things you’re going to want to check before you go in.
- Pet hair: If you’ve got a pet at home, there’s a good chance you’ll have some pet hair on you. Give a quick lint roll before you go in.
- No stains, spots, or smudges. Make sure your clothes are clean.
- No rips, tears, or holes. As much as I love my ripped jeans, they’re not professional.
Interviews are definitely the time to remember the old adage, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
Do your research
It’s a wonder what a quick Google search and peruse of the company’s website will do. You by no means have to be an expert. They don’t expect it, but 95% of job interviews I have done have started with a question along the lines of ‘what do you know about our business’ or ‘have you ever been here before?’
Here are the things I like to get an idea of before going in:
- What kind of food is served? Do they do take-out, dine-in only, catering, etc, for restaurants
- What are the typical hours of operation
- How long has the business been running (you don’t need an exact amount of time, rather, is it a newly budding business or something that has been a part of the community for a while)
- Check out the About page and FAQ
- Read the mission statement – see what the goals of your potential company are.
- Familiarize yourself with the services offered
- Check out their social media to see the kinds of things they get up to
- What do the typical clients or customers look like?
While there are a lot of things here, you don’t have to do all of them. Just be prepared with one or two points, something you really like, and, depending on the position you’re applying to, something you may be able to improve on.
Be prepared for certain questions, and don’t be afraid to practice
Here are some of the most common questions I get asked in an interview and how I like to answer them. Having a plan in place ahead of time will make you seem more confident.
Why do you want to work here?
This is where that research thing comes in handy. Knowing what you like about the company will help you answer this question. Here are some of my typical answers:
- I love the type of food you serve here, and it seems like you have an amazing customer base, and I’d really love to be a part of it.
- I feel like there would be a lot of opportunities for future growth here, and I am looking for somewhere I can make a career for myself.
- It looks like you and your staff have a lot of fun here, and I’d really like to be a part of that.
Here are some other questions I often hear;
- Tell me a bit about yourself.
- Tell me a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.
- Tell me a time when you had a disagreement with a coworker.
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Where do you see yourself in a year? (Sometimes it’s three years, five years, or ten years.)
- Why do you think you will work well here?
- What would you do if ____ happened? (think of any difficult situation that may occur in this type of work environment.
PRO TIP: If you are not applying for a management role, don’t be afraid to give the answer to the best of your ability, followed by an “if I cannot resolve it myself, I will default to my manager or supervisor.”
Be prepared to ask questions
I have never had a job interview where I wasn’t asked, “do you have any questions for me?” At first, I didn’t really ask many questions outside of when can I expect to hear back. I didn’t know what to ask. I found that as I started getting more confident in my own abilities and started asking questions of my own, I was taken more seriously.
Here are some of the questions I asked:
- How long have you been with this company and in your current role?
- What is your favorite part about the company?
- What will a typical day in this role look like?
- What will my typical schedule look like? (if it’s shift work)
- What do new employees find surprising when first starting here?
- What is the training process like?
- Is there room for growth?
- Is there anything you think I should know about the job or company?
- When would you like someone to start?
- When can I expect to hear back about the opportunity?
Now, while it is good to ask questions, it’s not good to ask too many. I like keeping it to about 2-4 questions, depending on the process. Use the information you have learned throughout the interview to base your own questions on, if possible.
A few final tips
When possible, try not to stress. If you’re unsure of an answer right away, it’s okay to take a few seconds or a minute to think about it. And finally, know that you won’t get every job. Sometimes it’s a numbers game. The more to which you apply, the more interviews you’ll get, the more practice you’ll get, and eventually, the more opportunities and offers you’ll receive.
I wish you the best of luck!
Do you have any suggestions for folks heading out to a job interview? If you’re an interviewer, what makes a difference to you when hiring? If you have been on interviews recently, was there a question that surprised you?
Let’s discuss it in the comments section.
About Chloe Morgan
Chloe Morgan grew up living with a tight budget. In her late teens and early 20’s all the lessons she’d learned started to slip, like it does for many college age students on their own for the first time, and with their first credit card. As she’s gotten older, she’s started to deal with the repercussions and has taken on a frugal way of living, keeping her costs low, as she pays off debt and saves for her future. Chloe lives in Northern Ontario, Canada, with her cute dog, Rhea. Check out her other work on Medium, where she writes about lifestyle, mental health, and writing.
8 thoughts on “How to ROCK Your Next Job Interview”
I cannot emphasize “do your research” enough. We are a writing team. We’ve had potential hires send us terrific resumes and take our editing test and get perfect scores. Then they show up to the interview and we ask them, “Which of our projects is one you have read?” And they look at us like they’ve been poleaxed. Or we might ask, “what genre do you see yourself writing?” We will get a list of that includes all types of genres, except the one we write.
Finally, one not mentioned, in today’s environment it is not unusual to have an interview over your computer. Be aware of what is within view of the camera. We have seen things that are illegal, immoral, or just plain gross.
It’s crazy the difference even 10 minutes of research will make.
And oh, I can only imagine some of the things you’ve seen on screens during video interviewers! That is a very great tip!
It helps to have a “Lucky Tie.”
Every time I’ve worn this tie to an interview, I’ve gotten the job. When I didn’t wear it, I was passed over. Even my eldest and youngest will swear by my Lucky Tie.
There’ll be a fight when I’m gone over who takes possession of that Lucky Tie.
The tie is an older tie from the 30s or 40s. It’s a deep dark maroon and black silk tie with a very subdued Paisley pattern on it. It was probably an expensive tie when it was new, but I bought it from a thrift shop for $2 in 1980.
Of course this is all superstitious nonsense.
I agree with the articles tips and how you present yourself. It is a fine line to walk between pride in your accomplishments and boasting, so that’s a question you need to be prepared to answer with humility/humbleness.
Boasting and Overemphasizing your accomishments can kill your chances in an interview, and a trained HR person, can pick up on it real quickly.
That sounds like a really awesome tie, If you’ve had it this long, and it’s worked every time, it must truly be lucky!
And so true; when I do an interview, I will often put in, in someway that I appreciate training and feedback and that there is something to be learned from anyone. I find this is especially important for higher-up positions, where you could be coming in as a supervisor of some sort and working with people who have been in that company for years. You may be in charge, but there is so much you can learn.
Most of my jobs have been commission sales jobs. I remember one job I got after I answered the sales manager’s question about where I saw myself in 5 years. I said to her: “On a warm, tropical beach, signing your paychecks…”. Got the job!
That is the best answer ever. I love that!
At this point I’ve actually given interviews as well as done more than my fair share. I agree with what the article said – it’s all very true!
It’s actually pretty funny how big a difference your clothing can make, especially since I see people care less and less about what they wear to an interview. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people come to interview in really casual clothes. If you are unsure of what to wear, scope out the business and then try to dress just a little better than the people working there. It is definitely possible to overdress.
It’s also totally normal to be nervous about interviews. It’s absolutely human nature. It has helped me to remember that ultimately, for an interview, you and the interviewer are working together to find a good fit for the position. You want the job, and they are tired of sitting there talking to people and want to hire you. If you are the right fit, that is. So it helps to see that commonality.
If you have a resume it’s a good idea to give it a once over before the interview and if possible highlight the items that will make you a good fit for the job you are interviewing for. Some people still read them!
Nice job, Chloe! I have retired from a career in customer service, and have taught classes on resume writing and job hunting, and I think you covered the bases beautifully. You might mention, in future posts, that there will likely be more time than you wish before you hear back, either yes or no, and after a week or so, it is perfectly okay to contact the interviewer and ask if they have any questions or comments regarding your interview. Kind of a reminder you’re very interested in the job. And also, if they let you know you didn’t get the position, thank them for the interview, ask them what put you out of the running, and if you were in 2nd or 3rd place, ask them to please keep you in mind if either anything else comes up, or if their first choice doesn’t work out.