With the onset of COVID-19, millions of people have been furloughed, laid off or otherwise left without work. This means many families and couples are facing financial hardships, and the need to find new work is imperative. Whether your partner has traditionally been the breadwinner, you’re retired and ready to reenter the workforce or it’s simply been a few years since your last interview, there’s always room for improving your interview etiquette.
Below we’re discussing a few quick tips you can use to put your best foot forward in any interview, either in-person or virtually.
Tip #1: Do Your Research
While it’s likely you’ve applied to dozens of places, you’ll want to make sure you’re well-acquainted with the company and what it does before your interview. Review their website and look at their mission statement and values. Understand their products and services, and take a peek at their company history.
If you know who you’re interviewing with, perhaps see if there’s any information about them on the company's site or social sharing sites like Linkedin. Referencing pertinent information in your interview can help prove to the employer that you're interested in the company, and you took the time to learn about them. Not only can this impress your future employer, but knowing about the company will help you answer the interview questions better.
Tip #2: Be Aware of Your Body Language
Your body language in an interview - both in person and virtually - says a whole lot about you. For example, crossing your arms and legs is a defensive move that should be avoided.
Most people fidget when they’re nervous, but you’ll need to be aware of bad habits such as twirling your hair, shaking your leg or any other movements that could give away how nervous you really are. In addition, you’ll need to remember to avoid slumping or reclining back into your chair. This can make it seem like you are disinterested or bored.
With those bad habits out of the way, there are a few ways in which you can use body language to portray a more positive message.
You should sit with your back straight and chin parallel to the ground. Lean a little forward when listening or speaking, as this shows interest in what the interviewer has to say. Make eye contact, but don’t keep contact the entire time. Instead, find a good balance. If you like to use hand gestures, you can certainly use them while interviewing, just don’t go too crazy. If your interview is in person, stand up when someone walks into the room, as this is a sign of respect.
Tip #3: Prepare Questions to Ask
A large part of preparing for an interview is knowing what questions you want to ask at the end of your interview. If you don’t have questions, the employer may think you are disinterested. In fact, having a question or two prepared has become an expectation amongst most interviewers.
Asking good questions is a way to show that you’re engaged in what’s being discussed, and you’re interested in learning more. However, you want to make sure you don’t ask a question that was already answered during the interview.
Tip #4: Dress the Part
Dressing appropriately for an interview is very important, whether you’re at home in your living room or on-site in an office. As a general rule of thumb, it's always better to overdress than appear too casual. Neutral colors that portray professionalism like navy, gray, black, brown and white tend to be the safe, acceptable colors to wear to an interview.
In most cases, you’ll want to avoid bright colors like red and orange or wearing something with a bold, busy pattern. These can be distracting to the interviewer and may give off the wrong impression.
Women should try to have manicured nails that follow the same guidelines - neutral, professional colors and lengths that don’t divert attention away from what you’re saying. If you want to wear makeup, a simple, natural look is best. You also want to avoid wearing dangling jewelry or too much perfume.
Tip #5: Know Your “Why”
After being out of the workforce for an extended period of time, one of the first questions a potential employer will ask is why you're returning to the workforce and why you want to work there. You want to make sure that you’re prepared for this question, and that you can give a legitimate reason (other than financial need). After all, the employer wants to know why they should hire you. You need to show them your interest and dedication to their company.
Re-entering the workforce may seem scary, but with the right preparation, you can improve your chances of landing the right job. You need to leave a great first impression, and if you follow these five tips above, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t.
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