how to sell yourself during a job interview

Posted : February 6, 2004
Last Updated : January 24, 2022

how to sell yourself during a job interview

College doesn't last forever; and when it's finally over, you'll have to enter the real world (aka the work force). But before you are hired, you'll have to ace the interviewing process. The following job interview tips should help you get that second interview so you can land your dream job.

Interview Preparation

The key to a successful job interview is preparation. Remember that success occurs when preparation meets opportunity. If you get the opportunity to interview for a job, don't blow it by not being prepared. Instead, follow these guidelines:

  • Research the company. Employers want someone who is excited about the position and is informed about the company and its industry. Research the company's history. What is its mission statement? Who is the company's competition? The interviewer may ask you questions about the company. By knowing this information, you will show the interviewer that you have taken the initiative to research the company and that you are a real go-getter.
  • Prepare questions to ask the interviewer. These questions should be relevant to the job, employer, and organization. Asking questions will help you make an informed decision about taking the job as well as display your interest in the position.
  • Practice interviewing. Ask a friend to be the interviewer or see if the career center at your college has a mock interview service. Browse the Internet for frequently asked questions during an interview and read Sample Questions for a Job Interview. Be prepared for open-ended questions such as, "What are your career goals?" and "What motivates you?" Prepare information from your past experiences that would relate to and benefit the position.

The Job Interview

Calm down. As long as you are prepared, the actual job interview will not be as bad as you might think. Use these job interview tips on the day of your interview:

  • Dress appropriately. All employers look for neat, clean, and well-groomed people. Be sure to dress in attire that is appropriate for the positon in which you are interviewing. Remember it is better to overdress than to be too casual. 
  • Be on time. Better yet, arrive early. Just don't be late. This is the interviewer's first impression of you. If you arrive just a few minutes late, the interviewer will automatically see you in a negative way. It is quite difficult to overcome a negative first impression. Be sure to leave extra time for traffic and for unexpected emergencies.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume. You may need extra copies if you are asked to interview with more than one person. Carry them in a professional binder so they will stay clean and neat.
  • Be aware of body language. Try to look energetic. Give a firm handshake upon meeting the interviewer. Maintain eye contact, but don't stare. Display good posture, and don't forget to smile. These nonverbal actions show that you are interested in being there.
  • Give qualitative answers. Avoid answering questions using "yes" or "no." Employers want to know what you can offer the company. Give examples of your past performance because it is the best indicator of your future performance. Make sure to speak positively of all past employers and experiences.
  • Emphasize your strengths. Let the employer know that you are reliable and/or that you have great communication skills. The interview process is about selling yourself and what better way than to market what you do best.
  • Be honest. Never exaggerate or lie about your past experiences. If your grade point average is not as high as you would like or you don't have any extra-curricular activities, admit that these are weaknesses that you are trying to improve. Lying about your past would only cause distress in the future. Most of the time, employers will verify your background.
  • Ask questions. Remember that you already know what questions to ask because you are prepared. Ask the questions that you have practiced and any questions that you have thought of while being interviewed.
  • Remain calm. Avoid nervous habits such as tapping your foot, playing with your hair, or biting your nails. Remaining confident will prove to the interviewer that you are secure in your abilities to do the job.
  • Close the job interview positively. Make sure to thank the interviewer for his or her time and shake the interviewer's hand. Don't forget to let him or her know that you look forward to hearing from the company soon. Express your interest in the position.

Interview Follow Up

You may think that after the interview the rest is left up to the employer. Well, the decision on who to hire is up to the employer, but you still have one last chance to prove to the interviewer that you are the person for the job. You have to follow up in order to show the company that you are still interested in the position even after being interviewed. Here is what you should do for the interview follow up:

  • Send a handwritten thank-you note. Doing this shows that you have good business etiquette. This note should again thank the interviewer for his or her time and indicate your interest in the job. You should refer to specific points discussed during the job interview that focus on how you can contribute to the company.
  • Observe the company culture if you get a second interview. Ask if you can spend time watching the activities of different employees. This will allow you to see if you fit with the company and if the environment is comfortable for you.

Now you are ready for any job interview opportunities that come your way. Remember that interview preparation is the most important step of the interview process. Once you are prepared, the rest should be a lot easier. Good luck!

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