Landing a job interview is a very exciting thing. While it doesn’t mean you’ve landed the job yet, it means your resume stood out in a pile of others, which is something to feel good about.
If you’ve recently landed a job interview, congratulations! Now it’s time to make it a great one. Below are some tips and resources on ways you can have a confident, successful interview.
Before the Interview
The steps you take before your interview are just as important as the interview itself. Keep in the mind the following tips and resources leading up to your big day.
Do Your Research – Knowing a little about the company you’re interviewing with will not only help you feel more confident during the interview, but it will help you stand out among other candidates, and help you decide if the company is a right fit for you. Remember, this is as much your chance to interview a company as it is theirs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions to get a good idea of what the company is all about!
Before your interview, get a good grasp on the company by looking at their website, browsing through their social media pages (such as Facebook and Twitter), researching online news articles about the company, and looking into who their competitors are. If you do not have a computer, consider some of the resources below:
- Eugene Service Station – Along with many other services, the ESS provides computer access, telephones, message services, and job and housing referrals.
- Eugene/Springfield Library – A library card can come in handy if you need access to a computer. Here are some ways to get a library card if you don’t already have one:
- If you have a current form of photo ID, and proof of address from an agency that is helping you transition into housing, you can register for a library card at Eugene Public Library. For more information, call (541) 682-5450
- If you are located in Springfield, you can get a Springfield Public Library card if you are vetted by Catholic Community Services (CCS). Vetted individuals can apply for a library card if they give the Springfield Public Library a letter from CCS which confirms they live inside of the city limits. For more information, call Springfield Public Library at (541) 726-3766.
- Campbell Community Center – The center provides guests with limited computer access and other social services. Click here for more info.
- Wifi Access – If you have a computer or phone but only need Wifi, you can find a list of places with free public wireless internet here, or call the City of Eugene offices at 541-682-5010 for more information.
If it’s been a while since your last job interview, or you’re about to embark on your very first job interview experience, consider reading about how job interviews work before jumping into your company research.
Practice, Practice, Practice – One of the best ways to ensure you have great job interview is by practicing for it. Consider these practice tips for a more confident interview experience.
- Know your skills and strengths – A good way to gain a quick boost of confidence before an interview is by listing all the things that make you great for the job. A job interview is your chance to highlight your skills and strengths, so it’s very important to practice talking about them before your interview. If you feel you could use some help identifying and/or talking about your skills and strengths, be sure to contact Goodwill Job Connections and one of their Employment Specialists will help you.
- Practice answering interview questions – The simplest way to practice for a job interview is by creating a list of common interview questions and answering each question out loud. The more you practice, the more prepared you will be during an actual job interview. If you can, consider having a friend, family member, or someone else help you practice. For more guidance with your interview practice questions, visit or call your local WorkSource Center. They are a friendly team of people who will be glad to help you!
- Dress the part – A good way to make your practice interview feel like a real job interview is by dressing the part. Not only will dressing the part make you feel like you are heading to a real job interview, but it will also give you a chance to get your interview clothing in order. For a list of places you can access free clothing in Lane County, visit http://whitebirdclinic.org/resources/.
- Have someone help you – Don’t hesitate to ask others for help in your interview preparation process. Not only can the feedback and guidance of others help your interview be successful, but it can also help you feel supported throughout your job hunt. Below you can find a list of free resources that will gladly help you search for jobs, and provide you with helpful guidance.
- St. Vincent de Paul Employment Solutions – Helps low-income individuals get jobs or move into better jobs. The program is available to anyone who receives SNAP benefits (food stamps); is a military veteran with at least one day of active duty; or served in the National Guard. Call (541) 607-0439 for more information.
- WorkSource Oregon – Oregon’s Public WorkSource system can help you get a job, increase your skills, and explore your training options. Oregonians looking for work should visit their nearest WorkSource Center to find staff and services dedicated to helping Oregonians get back to work. Call (541) 345-1801 for more information.
- Goodwill Job Connections – Employment Specialists will work individually with you to identify your work skills, experience, and interests in order to provide job leads in the community based on your strengths. They will create a plan with your vocational goals in mind and work hard to help you locate employment within 30 days, if possible.
- Sponsors Ross Shepard Reentry Resource Center – This is a comprehensive job assistance center where men and women with criminal histories can get help finding employment. Call (541) 505-5682 for more information.
Plan Your Transportation – Make sure you know where you’re going and allow yourself plenty of time to get there! To ensure you arrive on time, it’s important to have a transportation plan in place before the day of your interview. If you need transportation assistance, contact the resources below to see what their options are.
- St. Vincent de Paul Employment Solutions – Call (541) 607-0439
- Oregon Health Plan Ridesource – Call (541) 682-5566
- Catholic Community Services – Call (541) 345-3628
During the Interview
Job interviews are uncomfortable for everyone involved, but it’s important to remember that your interviewers are just as nervous as you are. It’s also important to realize that those interviewers are rooting for you, and they want you to do a good job. If at anytime you feel like your nerves are getting the best of you, just remember to tell yourself “They want me to do well,” and see how much it helps! Below, you will find a few other tips for accomplishing a great job interview.
Give a Good Handshake – There’s nothing like a good handshake to make a great first impression.
Admit You’re Nervous – If you’re nervous, say it. Admitting that you’re nervous can act as an icebreaker, and will also help you relieve some anxiety. Afterall, the interviewers are probably nervous, too!
Breath – When we’re anxious or nervous, our breathing is more shallow. Before your interview, take a few minutes to focus on long, deep breaths. A good time to do this is moments before your interview, such as while you wait in the lobby. Deep breathing can help relax your nerves, and help keep your thoughts focused during the interview. Consider trying one of these breathing exercises from Dr. Andrew Weil.
Listen Carefully – Rather than silently rehearsing answers in your head, make sure to focus on your breath while listening to your interviewer’s words and questions very carefully. While listening to your interviewer, think of ways to summarize what they are saying in your own words. This will help you stay focused, and also help you come up with relevant questions if anything sounds interesting or confusing.
Pace Yourself – Before answering every question, repeat the question in your mind. If you can’t remember the question, don’t hesitate to ask the interviewer to repeat it. When you are ready to answer, remember to take your time and stay relevant to the topic.
Focus on Your Body Language – Focusing on your body language can make a big difference in your interview results. For example, sitting up straight will help you appear more confident, keeping your arms uncrossed will help you seem more open, leaning in a little will help you seem more interested, and silently focusing on your breath will help you maintain a more relaxed demeanor. If you tend to fidget your hands or legs, be sure to also keep those things in mind during your interview. For more body language tips, check out this article Body Language Tips for Your Next Job Interview.
Be Honest About Your History – The most important thing you can do during an interview is tell the truth, whether it be about conflicts with previous employers or a criminal history. Although it might seem counterintuitive, we suggest letting your interviewers know as soon as early in the interview as possible. This will allow you to take control of the interview, and explain the circumstances on your terms.
- When the interview asks “Tell me about yourself,” start out by saying a few positive things, and then something like this:
- “I’d also like to bring your attention to the fact that I served [X] years of time at a correctional facility [X] years ago. Here’s what I learned from it [list two to three learning lessons]. … Here’s how I changed my life [point to two to three tangible examples/proof of change]. … Here’s how I’ll bring value to your company [mention two to three ways you’ll contribute].”
If you feel like you could use some guidance in ways to talk about criminal history, be sure to contact Sponsors Ross Shepard Reentry Resource Center at (541) 505-5682. The Ross Shepard Reentry Resource Center (RRC) is a comprehensive job assistance center where men and women with criminal histories can get help finding employment.
Ask Questions – Remember to come to your interview prepared with a few questions about the job and/or company you are interviewing for. Not only will this help you find out more about the company and position, but it will also help you seem more interested and engaged.
Give a Good Handshake – There’s nothing like a good handshake to make a great last impression!
After the Interview
Whew! Aren’t you glad that’s over? Use this time to think about how well you did, and also a few other things:
Think Positively – Don’t let negative thoughts eat you up after you interview! It’s to to reflect on your interview, but avoid thinking about what went wrong. Just be glad it’s over, and remember to stay positive while you wait for the results.
Send a Thank You Card – After your interview, be sure to thank the employer for providing you with the opportunity to interview. While emails are always nice, what will really stand out to employers is a handwritten note. See these great Thank You Letter Examples.
Don’t Give Up – No matter what happens, try your best to stay positive, and keep moving forward. Rather than letting rejection get the best of you, consider it an opportunity to start fresh and do better next time. For more tips on ways to handle job rejection, consider reading this article How To Move On When You Didn’t Land the Job. It provides helpful tips to keep you motivated, so you can keep moving forward and land an even better job!