7 Tips for Presenting Yourself as a Professional in Your HR Interview

professional skills

An interview can make or break the prospects of landing the perfect job. Whether you're a seasoned interviewee or a novice, it can be beneficial to review some useful tips on how to best present yourself as a professional in order to ace that next interview and get one step closer to the job of your dreams.

Take the HR Interview Seriously

These days, most jobs require more than one interview before you can be hired. If you are a qualified candidate, you will most likely participate in multiple rounds of interviews and those early interviews will typically be with HR representatives who are the backbone of the recruitment process.

The HR interview is often used to narrow down the candidate pool and grant only the most qualified candidates an interview with the hiring manager or whoever will be your direct boss. So, don't dismiss the HR interview as being less important than any other interview. In fact, it might even be more important—what happens in that interview will determine whether you make it further in the interview process.

Do Your Research

Some people might think research for a job interview is unnecessary, but a knowledgeable and informed candidate will always stand out from a candidate who hasn't put time or effort into preparing.

So what kind of research should you be doing?

man doing research & taking notes

First, find out who you will be meeting with or speaking to depending on whether you'll be having an in-person or phone screening interview. Christina Rios, PHR, Talent Acquisition Manager says, ''Look them up on LinkedIn and familiarize yourself with their background. You can use this during the interview for small talk or to get the conversation going.''

Then, do some research on the company because you will be asked about it in some capacity or another. Don't just repeat the info on the company's website back to them, though—they already know what it says. Show your HR interviewer that you know information about the company and can apply it.

Prepare Answers to Common Interview Questions

Winging it in a job interview might work for certain people, but if you take the time to prepare for your interview by coming up with answers to potential questions you might be asked, it will show that you are a professional.

''I would suggest looking up common questions,'' Rios says. ''For HR it may be to tell me about...a time your integrity was tested; a time you had to deal with a difficult person at work; a time when you handled a situation in the wrong way; or a time when you had to use your communication or leadership skills to influence others.''

These are behavioral questions, which can give your interviewer insight into how you might act in the future depending on how you acted previously.

Rios recommends you ''think about the tougher behavioral questions to answer, and come up with a response/example for each. Even if they don't ask those specific questions, sometimes you can use those examples you prepared for and tailor it to different questions.''

By preparing examples and answers ahead of time to popular HR interview questions, you're giving yourself the best chance of wowing your interviewer on the first shot instead of remembering all the things you could have said after the interview is over.

Dress Appropriately

If you want to present yourself as a professional, you need to look the part and dress like a professional. This generally means wearing a suit that's wrinkle-free and fits you well. When you look good, you feel good, and that's what you want to convey to your interviewer.

woman dressed in a business suit

Beyond the actual clothes, Rios advises, ''Wear few accessories, light or muted makeup, and no or very light perfume or scented lotion.'' The same goes for men with cologne or aftershave. ''You don't want to create any distractions. You want to be remembered for the skills you can bring to the company, not the trail of perfume you left behind.''

Dressing professionally doesn't mean you can't show a little bit of your personality, though. Add pops of color or a unique accessory or pair of glasses to make yourself stand out; just don't go overboard. First impressions matter, and you don't want your interviewer to be focused on your attire instead of your job qualifications.

Be Confident

If you're not confident in your skills and abilities pertaining to the job, then your interviewer won't be confident about them either.

So how can you convey confidence during your interview?

Maintain good posture when you're standing or sitting. Make eye contact and smile. Speak clearly and audibly. Be aware of your body language. Try not to fidget. Don't daze off or lose focus.

Most importantly, though, think positively. By staying positive and reminding yourself that you were selected for this interview for a reason, you will exude confidence, which will make a lasting impression.

woman being interviewed

Ask Questions at the End of the Interview

You're interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you, so when your HR interviewer asks, ''Do you have any questions for me?'' make sure you're prepared with 2–3 questions. Not only does this give you pertinent information, but, according to Rios, ''it shows your level of engagement and interest in the role.''

''One of my favorite questions to ask as your last question is, 'Are there any gaps in my experience or anything I'm lacking that would prevent you from hiring me?''' Rios says.

This is a great question because it can help you know where you stand as a job candidate. If their concern deals with something you have experience with, you can highlight and elaborate on that experience to alleviate their concern. If you don't have experience with their concern, discuss your ability to learn things quickly by providing an example or explain how this position will help you develop in that area.

Follow up!

The last time you interact with your interviewer should not be when the interview is over. You should always send a follow-up thank-you email within 24 hours after the interview.

woman writing follow-up email

Writing an email to thank your interviewer is not only polite but it can also help solidify your interest in the position. Your email should be brief but also personal. Mention a specific detail or point discussed during your conversation and reaffirm why you believe you are qualified for the job.

Furthermore, following up with your interviewer gives you a chance to add any relevant information that you didn't get to mention during the interview.

Use the follow-up email to thank your interviewer for their time, re-toot your own horn, and show that you still very much want the job.

Interviews can be stressful, but if you take time to prepare for your interview with these 7 tips, your interviewer will think you are a qualified and confident professional.

By Melissa Kreindel
December 2017
professional skills job interview

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