15 Steps to a Successful Interview

1. Be presentable.
    This goes without saying, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't take appearance into account when it comes to making a first impression. Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself. Be presentable in a way that is appropriate for the environment that you're interviewing in and the position you're interviewing for.

2. Don't wear revealing clothing or overpowering scents.
     Nobody wants to see that in a professional environment, and you never know what people might be allergic to, so steer clear of the overpowering perfumes or hairsprays, cologne, etc.

3. Be on time (not too early, and certainly not late.)
     Don't stress the organization out by arriving an hour early, but leave ample time for finding the building/location, parking, walking to the correct building, the restroom, etc.

4. Be knowledgeable about the organization.
     Duh. Go above and beyond where you can. Do your homework. Research online, read articles or other publications if relevant, and start jotting down follow up questions you may want to ask or clarify in your interview.

5. Demonstrate an interest in the position.
     Know what you are interviewing for! Clarify responsibilities, expectations, duties, what it means to be successful in the position, etc. Read the job description ahead of time.

6. Do not interrupt.
     You want to be on your best behavior. Listen carefully, be polite, demonstrate a genuine and keen interest in what other people are saying.

7.  Prepare answers to common interview questions.
     Do some research on what is commonly asked so there are (fewer) surprises.

8. Answer thoughtfully.
     Don't jump to an answer right away if you need a moment to think about what you want to say. Don't think forever and sit in awkward silence, but if you need a few seconds to put your thoughts together, take them.

9. Practice not sounding rehearsed.
     Sounds contradictory, right? Practice sounding like you haven't practiced? But it's true- you don't want to sound like a robot in there. You want to be clear, concise, confident, and [insert quality or qualification that is relevant to the position you're interviewing for] i.e. for marketing it might be personable, for a counselor it might be compassionate. You want to practice sounding intelligent, thoughtful and knowledgeable without sounding like you memorized lines.

10. Be clear about what you will contribute and what you bring to the table.
     It's fine that you want this job and all, but what's in it for them? You don't want to go the route of trying to "fix things" i.e. "oh I'm good at XYZ so I can fix XYZ that is going terribly wrong right now at your company..." but think of it more from a perspective of, what do you need from me, and how can I provide it in a way that benefits both of us?

11. Don't gesture too much.
     This can be distracting and take away from the content of what you're saying. (This can vary based on the position- if you are in the dramatic arts, for example,) but be aware of your body. Do you overly gesture? Do you fidget? How does your body language come across? You want to come across as confident, prepared, and collected. Practice with a friend or partner, if you need to!

12. Look people in the eye (but don't stare.)
     If you have trouble with this, try looking between their eyebrows. Eye contact demonstrates confidence and can help facilitate trust or rapport.

13. Don't use filler words and phrases like "um, like, yeah, you know" 
     It sounds unprofessional and like you don't know what you're talking about.

14. Ask insightful questions 
     This goes back to being prepared and knowledgeable about the company/industry. Come armed with a few questions (not too many.) This demonstrates interest and thoughtfulness.

15. Hand write a thank you note (when possible.) Otherwise email is fine. 
     Getting mail is really cool in today's day and age when you can send an email from your iPhone immediately after you exit the building. Take the time to get the person's name and contact information when possible, so you can send a brief hand written thank you expressing your thanks for their time. 

Do you have any favorite interview tips? Anything you think I missed? I'd love to know!

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