While you may know that saying the right things during an interview is important, did you know that there are certain things you can be doing — both before, during, and after the interview — to better your chances of landing a great job? Don’t just trust your gift of gab to sell you as the best candidate for the position; some actions can speak volumes to an employer about why you’re the right person for the job. Consider doing some or all of these things to help you ace the next interview.
- Use your cover letter as your email body. Sending a blank or vague email with just your resume attached not only lacks professionalism, but it could also be confusing. An employer may be hiring for several positions at once, so you need to make it clear what exact position you’re interested in. An easy way to do this is to simply use your cover letter as the body of your email, given that you have tailored it to the employer and have kept it succinct.
- Send your resume and cover letter in a PDF and Word format. Formatting matters when you’re sending your resume and cover letter electronically. To cover all of your bases, send your resume in both Word and PDF formats, unless you are instructed by the employer to do otherwise. For the Word document, save it in a "compatible" format so even those using older versions of the program may view it. In addition, be sure to name your files something that is easy to understand, such as your last name followed by "resume."
- Show up on time. Showing up too early or too late can inconvenience the employer. Instead, aim to arrive no more than 10 minutes early to show that you are punctual, but not inconsiderate. If you arrive earlier, just wait in the car or walk around the neighborhood until it’s nearly time for your interview. If you end up running late, don’t just skip the interview altogether without a word. Instead, be courteous and give the employer a call and explain your situation.
- Arrive properly dressed and groomed. First impressions matter, and when you show up for an interview well-groomed and dressed properly for the position, you’re giving the employer the impression that you care about the job. If you’re unsure about the dress code, ask before you come in for the interview or default to something more business-formal. Also, be sure that whatever you wear is clean, ironed, and fits you correctly.
- Mind your body language. Eye contact, good posture, and sitting still are all things you want to be mindful of during the interview, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not making eye contact can imply dishonesty, slouching can show unprofessionalism, and fidgeting betrays distraction or nervousness. If you have some nervous habits, try a few practice interviews with friends to help you feel more comfortable with the entire process, thereby lessening your nervous tics. You want to show the employer that you are confident in your capabilities and respectful of their time.
- Have and take notes. You don’t need to have a notebook filled with research to bring in with you or transcribe everything the employer says, but you should have some notes with you before the interview and take some during it as well. The prepared notes can be something as simple as questions you’ve prepared to ask about the company, position, or employer, and the notes you take can be of any details you find significant. These actions show the employer that you’re serious about the job and are paying attention to what they’re saying.
- Send a follow-up email or letter. In the past, it was encouraged for job applicants to send a follow-up thank you card or letter through postal mail after the interview to show employers that they are grateful for the job opportunity. But things don’t have to be so formal now. A simple thank you email is sufficient, as that gesture will show employers that even after interviewing, you’re still interested in the position.
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