I spent over three years working as a recruiter. In that time, I found that by following a few basic rules, landing your dream job is totally possible, and that confidence is even more important than competence. And the good news is, confidence is a practice.
I know it’s not always easy out there, especially when you’re interviewing for a job you really, really want. But if you’re in the room, it’s game on! You’re so close.
I secured a competitive job in NYC with no network, only local experience, and a pending visa when I arrived here a few years ago… just by putting these tips into practice.
1. Look the part.
You know the adage, “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” But you should also make sure your outfit matches the vibe of the company—whether it’s glam, corporate, or informal. Don’t wear a perfectly pressed three-piece suit to a cool start-up or a hoodie to a law firm. For women, a pencil skirt, pretty blouse, and blazer work almost anywhere. For guys, pants, a button-down, and a sports jacket should do the trick.
If in doubt, opt for a more professional look. You must also feel confident in your clothes! And if you’re not sure, ask your best-dressed, most successful friend their opinion.
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Not only does preparation numb your nerves, but it also makes you look like a total pro. Make LinkedIn your new best friend and research your interviewers. Strike a personal connection if you can: The same college, sports team, or travel experiences can instantly connect you. Spend time researching the company too. Look into its background; for example, learn when the company was founded and by whom. Dropping facts like these show hiring managers you’re taking the opportunity seriously.
3. Get centered.
Nerves can get in your way, so take some deep breaths. Securing the interview means you’re 90 percent there. Think about it: An interview is just a conversation. Heck, you’re evaluating them too! This process is a two-way street, and sticking to that mindset will naturally keep you calm. When I explain this to my clients, they noticeably relax. No one picks random people off the street and invites them in to discuss a job unless they’re certain that person is qualified.
4. Be brave being bomb!
Don’t be shy now. Write a list of 20 of your best qualities. Do you excel at problem-solving? Sales skills? Persistence? Technical know-how? Industry connections? If you need a little help, recall past compliments you received from colleagues. Be assertive and voice your strengths when asked. An interview is unlike any other experience; it’s a window to sell yourself. And I assure you of this—the other candidates are doing it!
5. Answer and ask with optimism.
Stress your enthusiasm for working for the organization, rather than focusing on leaving your current one. Give positive answers, even to tricky questions. For example, if you’re asked about an area for personal improvement, you can say, “I’m not familiar with X software, but I’m a quick learner and picked up other programs like Y in the past easily.”
The same goes for asking questions. Questions such as, “What does success in this position look like?” and “How would you describe the company culture here?” work well. Prepare at least two to three for the end when it’s your time to do the asking.
Everyone goes through the interview process, even CEOs. It’s part of building a career. There’s nothing to lose—just knowledge, experience, connections (and a potential new gig you love!) to gain. You’ve got this!
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for her Side Hustle Prep School and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!