I had had a job interview a few years ago for a position I had never heard of in an industry I knew absolutely nothing about. I had just been laid off by a business that collapsed during the recession and I discovered this position when an acquaintance asked me if I’d be interested. It was the holidays and I was a single mom with a daughter in college, so in desperation I replied, “Sure, why not?”
Not only was I pretty clueless about what the job entailed, I later learned this industry had a lot of movement among people in the particular position for which I was applying. I was not only unqualified, but also outnumbered, with multiple experienced candidates interviewing against me.
I got the job.
There was nothing about it that made sense (one of my new coworkers later told me she was shocked they hired me), so I had to chalk up my very good fortune to having a very good interview. That happened for one reason: because I prepared.
So here are a few things I did—and you can do—to improve your chances for getting a job offer before walking in for the interview:
1. Believe in yourself!
Your faith in your knowledge, abilities, and talents is the most important thing you carry into the interview room. I didn’t already know how to do this particular job, but I 100% believed I could do it.
2. Do your homework.
Get online and find out everything you can about the company, its personality, mission, products, goals, and culture. Use that information to come to the interview with questions you can ask that demonstrate your knowledge and interest in your potential employer.
3. Be prepared to answer questions about your past job accomplishments … without sounding boastful.
Try to share documentable successes—i.e., you helped a company boost sales by a specific percent. Identify the skills you have that helped you with those achievements.
I got the job…here are a few things I did
4. If you know you’ll be nervous, write out the questions and answers to suggestions 2 and 3 beforehand.
It’s okay for the interviewer to see your notes; you can even say something like, “I jotted down some ideas before coming.” It shows you took the time to prepare!
5. Plan what to wear.
Dress appropriately and conservatively no matter what the industry. Cover up large tattoos and your chest. Keep skirts no shorter than two inches above your knees and your heels at three inches or lower. Make sure your nails are neat and your hair is done. Even if you’re going to be waiting tables in a mini-skirt and tank top, you want to project yourself as mature and professional during the interview. First impressions count!
6. Be realistic.
You may not be the most qualified candidate and, if that is true, someone else will get the job. That doesn’t mean you aren’t good at what you do. Congratulate yourself for being qualified enough to get an in-person interview, and believe that something better is coming. Go home and polish your notes for the next one!
Give it a shot, prepare beforehand, and do your best!
And watch this quick video for a few more tips!