You completed the application carefully and now it has all paid off because you have been called in for an interview. This is your chance to showcase yourself – the person behind the information – and convince the hiring manager that you really are the right person for the position. An interview is about more than just showing up and answering a few queries about the information you included on your original application. Here are a few tips that should help you make that great first impression you need to and secure the position you want.
Do Your Homework – You may think you are familiar with the company you want to work for but are you really? Some of the most commonly asked interview questions – especially in the retail business – revolve around what you know about a company that makes you want to work there so the more completely you can answer those questions the better.
To research the company you are interviewing for a job with spend some time really exploring their website. Maybe you skipped over the ‘About Us’ and/or ‘History’ sections when you went to the site to complete an application but now is the time to go back and read them.
Check for news stories about the company as well and check social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to see how the company presents itself there. The more you know about the company you are interviewing with the better prepared you will be to make a great impression when you are asked about it.
If you have been given the name of the person who will be interviewing you you can also try ‘googling’ them. Many professionals maintain Linkedin pages today or blog for their company (most companies have a blog these days) so doing this may give you a little extra insight into just who you will be meeting with.
Dress for Success – Too many people immediately make a bad first impression at an interview by dressing the wrong way. While it is unlikely that you will be expected to turn up in a full business suit to interview for an entry level position in a retail setting you should still make sure that you are smartly dressed. that means no jeans, no t shirts, no excessive amounts of jewelry and that everything you do wear is clean, ironed and in good repair. And when in doubt it is better to be slightly overdressed than under-dressed.
Manage that First Impression – What many interview candidates may not realize is that often they are being ‘accessed’ before they even meet the person who will be interviewing them. Administrative assistants, receptionists and other people you might meet on the way to greet your interviewer will often be asked later about their first impression of you too, so it is important that you are polite and courteous to everyone.
Once you are in the interview room greet the interviewer with a courtesy title and their full name and do not sit down until you are actually invited to. When you do sit, watch your body language. Slouching, folding your arms or avoiding direct eye contact with the interviewer are all things that will not make a very positive impact.
Avoid Negatives – At some point during the interview, usually quite early on you are likely to be asked why you left your last job. This is where you need to answer in a very positive way, even if the circumstances behind your departure were not very positive at all, especially if you left because you did not like your boss or coworkers.
Do not mention any negatives though. You need to convince the interviewer that you will be a helpful and pleasant co-worker and if you spend time bad mouthing your past employers that is unlikely to be the impression you make at all!
Be Ready for the Predictable Questions – There are some interview questions that are almost always posed and for these you can often ‘rehearse’ most of your answer ahead of time. The three most common are:
‘Tell me about yourself’ – Have an answer for this prepared. Don’t embellish and don’t lie, just state your experience and keep it short and sweet – don’t ramble!
‘What are your strengths?’ – This is another answer that you can have prepared. Practice with a friend beforehand to make sure that what you say really does sound impressive.
‘Why do you want to work here?’ – This is where your research will pay off. Having taken the time to find out just what the company is all about and what they look for in an employee you will be able to match your strengths to that and make a more convincing case that you really are the right person for the job.
Be Ready for Tougher Questions – You may also face some much tougher questions. Often you will be asked what you think your weaknesses are. You can turn this into a positive though if you approach answering the questions in the right way. For example you could say ‘I was not always very punctual but I have made up for that by learning to get up earlier and stick to a timetable’ which sounds a lot better than ‘ I am late a lot.’
Don’t Talk Money – Even if you have an idea of what the pay would be if you were hired do not ask about money until you know you have the job. If the interviewer does ask you what you expect to make if you join the company it is better to say something like ‘I am sure a company like yours offers a salary that will match my experience’ or something similarly non committal.