You've made it through the screening process and you're ready for your first job interview. But hold on a second — there are preparations to make before you sit down with the recruiter or hiring manager. You need to present yourself as the best candidate for the job, even before you book that interview.
Remember, the interviewer is not your enemy. However, if you give them a reason for pause, they may eliminate you from consideration. Some of the factors to be considered during an interview might surprise you. But knowing these job interview secrets from the start could give you a leg up on the competition.
Clean up your online presence
A 2017 Harris Poll survey showed that 70 percent of all employers look into a candidate's digital presence as part of the screening and hiring process. As you apply to jobs, take steps to make sure your social media presence works to your advantage.
"The first rule is to do no harm," says social media consultant Tammy Gordon. "Google yourself and review your social media accounts. Know that your potential boss and team members will likely do the same. Clean up what doesn't fit with how you want to present yourself. Once, I was choosing between two candidates for a role," Gordon adds. "A quick search revealed one of them doing a keg stand as a profile picture. That's not someone I'm trusting with my clients' reputations."
Here are more job interview secrets for making the most of your social media presence:
- Update your LinkedIn profile to include all employment history and a professional-looking headshot. Even if you don't have much work history, list your college accomplishments, clubs you were affiliated with, and activities in which you participated.
- Search for yourself in a private browser or on someone else's computer. The results will give you an idea of what a potential employer can easily find out about you. Consider deleting unflattering photos or controversial posts.
- Check your social media accounts. During the job-hunting process, you may want to adjust the privacy settings on your account. You can always unlock them after you've landed a job.
How to succeed during a job interview
Much has been written about the obvious rules of interviewing, like researching the company's needs and making sure you're prepared and on time. However, there are other factors affecting interview success you need to consider beyond your answers to the hiring manager's questions. Here's what to do before, during and after your job interview to ensure you're presenting your very best self:
- Remember your resume
Review your resume before the interview so all details will be fresh on your mind. Keep extra copies of your resume in a professional-looking folder so you can hand them out to anyone you meet. Even though the hiring manager has seen your resume, don't expect them to have it printed out. Always hand them a fresh copy. Don't forget to revisit your cover letter to refresh your memory on what you wrote that scored you the interview.
Think you'll need help with both your resume and cover letter? Put LiveCareer's Resume Templates and Cover Letter Templates to work.
- Be polite right from the start
You must be friendly and professional from the moment you come in contact with anyone associated with the company. These people include the receptionist, those you meet in the lobby, or the shuttle driver who picks you up if you're interviewing for an out-of-town position. Many hiring managers will ask these co-workers about your behavior to get a sense of the real you. This rule should extend beyond just the job interview and into your day-to-day life.
- Keep your appearance professional
Even if you're applying to a company where you know the dress is casual, never wear jeans and a tee-shirt for your meeting. Your outfit or suit should be polished and fit well. Pay attention to the details, like matching your accessories or wearing the appropriate shoes.
Beyond your suit or professional outfit, consider the rest of your appearance and hygiene. It's best to cover tattoos and remove piercings, as some hiring managers may object to them. Avoid perfume or cologne, as some people may have an allergic reaction to it. Make sure your breath is fresh. Once you've showered and dressed, avoid smoking. The smell can linger and may reflect negatively on you.
- Monitor your body language
Your interviewer is likely keeping a close eye on your body language, so be aware of how you carry yourself. Are you slouching, tapping your foot, or crossing and uncrossing your legs repeatedly? These behaviors are distracting and will detract from what you're saying. Try these tips:
- Sit comfortably in your chair
- Keep both feet on the ground
- Make eye contact
- Smile and nod your head when listening
Surprise interview questions are sure to pop up, so keep your composure when they do. If you prepare in advance for all the factors to be considered during an interview, you're more likely to nail the interview and get the job.
Here's a helpful tip to ensure your resume and cover letter get the most bang for their buck. Many employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to review resumes. These systems automatically scan resumes to find relevant keywords that align with the job description. When updating your resume and cover letter, include these keywords whenever possible.
Still trying to get a foot in the door to land that first job interview? Consider using our Cover Letter Builder and Resume Builder. We'll help you create a professional, personalized package that will show hiring managers who you are and why they should add you to their team.