Do you want to land that open job you’ve been seeking? Here are 19 tips to help you execute your next interview!
Research the industry and company.
An interviewer might ask you what you think of the company’s position in its industry, who the firm’s competitors are, what its competitive advantages are, and how it should best go forward. For this reason, avoid trying to research a ton of different industries in detail. Instead, focus your job search on just a few industries instead.
Clarify your “selling points” and the reasons you want the job.
Think of three to five key selling points when preparing for an interview, such as what makes you the best candidate for the position. Also, have an example of each selling point prepared. For example, “I have good communication skills. I persuaded an entire group of people to…” Remember to be prepared to tell the interviewer why you want the position you’re applying for as well! Some things you want to tell them would be what interests you about the job, what rewards it offers that you find valuable, and what abilities it requires that you possess. If an interviewer doesn’t think you’re interested in the job, he or she will definitely not give you an offer, even if your interview is through the roof!
Anticipate the interviewer’s concerns and reservations.
The truth is, there are always going to be more candidates seeking positions than there are openings. Interviewers will look for ways to screen people out. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself why they might not want to hire you (“I don’t have this,” “I’m not that,” etc.) After that, prepare your defense: “I know you may be thinking that I might not be the best fit for this position because…”. “But you should know that…” Say something to assure the interviewer they shouldn’t be concerned about your qualifications, experience, etc.
Prepare for common interview questions.
How do you prepare for the most broad questions that will be asked during the interview? Pick any list of interview questions you find in a book or on the internet, and think about which questions you’ll most likely encounter based on your age and status. After that, prepare your answers so you won’t have to fumble for them during the actual interview. Say the answer out loud to a few questions you believe for sure will be asked, so you’re not as nervous going into the interview.
Line up your questions for the interviewer.
Come to the interview with some intelligent questions for the interviewer as well, to show that you’ve studied the company, and that you’re serious about the position. Interviewers will always ask if you have any questions, and no matter what you should have a few ready. If you don’t, then the interviewer may believe that you aren’t completely interested in the job and/or company. One good question that can be asked to any interviewer is, “If you could design the ideal candidate for this position, what would they be like?” If you’re having a series of interviews with the same company, you can use some of your prepared questions with each person you meet. Then, try to think of a few more questions during the actual interview.
Practice, Practice, PRACTICE.
It’s very simple to think of an answer in your head to basic interview questions. It’s completely different when you actually say your answer out loud in a “convincing” way. The first time you speak aloud you’ll sound very rough. Do it several more times, and you’ll sound very smooth and confident. Be sure to rehearse your answers well before the interview. One idea to practice is to get two friends together and practice interviewing each other in “round robin.” One person is the interviewer, another the one being interviewed, and the third person is observing – giving tips after the practice round.
Score a success in the first five minutes.
Studies show that interviewers make up their minds about a candidate in the first five minutes of an interview. The rest of the time is spent looking for things to confirm the decision. What can you do in those first five minutes to get the golden ticket? Come in with energy and enthusiasm, and express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time. Your interviewer may be speaking to a lot of other candidates that day, and you want to stand out so that she remembers you. Start off the interview with a positive comment.
Get on the same side as the interviewer.
Most interviewers look at job interviews as adversarial. This means that candidates are going to try to pay an offer out of the interviewer, and the interviewer’s job is to hold onto it. Your job is to transform the “tug of war” into a relationship in which you’re both on the same side.
Be assertive and take responsibility for the interview.
Don’t be too passive during a job interview. Politeness doesn’t equal passivity. An interview is like any other conversation. It’s a dance in which you and your partner move together, both responding to the other. Don’t make the mistake of just sitting there waiting for the interviewer to ask you about the Nobel Prize you won. It’s your responsibility to make sure the interviewer walks away knowing all of your key selling points in detail. There’s no point in saying the positive things about yourself if your interviewer doesn’t even understand it.
Be prepared to handle illegal and inappropriate questions.
Questions regarding your age, gender, race, religion, marital status, and sexual orientation are inappropriate and actually illegal in many areas. However, don’t fall out of your seat if you get one. If you are asked one of these questions you can try to answer it in a few ways. You could answer with a question about the relevancy of the question to the job application. Another way to approach a question like this is to answer the question behind a question. This means to answer by saying you’re not sure and then try to turn it into a positive idea about why you’d be a good candidate for the job.
No one likes a complainer, so don’t talk about negative experiences in an interview. Even if the interviewer directly asks you a negative question, don’t answer the question in a negative way. More specifically, don’t answer it as it’s been asked. Instead, try and turn the negative into a positive. For example, “I actually found something I enjoyed in all of my courses that I took.”
Close on a positive note.
If you get to the end of an interview and you’d really like that job, then ask for it! Tell the interviewer that you’d really like the job. Also, mention that you were pumped about the interview before it happened and you’re even more excited about the position after the interview is done. It’s good to show your excitement, because if the decision comes between you and another candidate, the company will probably choose the person who seems the most passionate.
Bring a copy of your resume to every interview.
Have a copy of your resume with you when you go to every interview. If the interviewer has misplaced his or her copy, you’ll save a lot of time if you can pull it out of your folder and hand it over. This will also help you look very prepared for the interview and that you’re more than qualified for the position.
Don’t worry about sounding “canned.”
Some people are worried that if they rehearse their answers, they’ll sound “canned.” Canned means overly polished during the interview. Don’t worry! If you’re well prepared, you’ll sound smooth and articulate, not canned. And if you’re not so well prepared, the anxiety of the situation will eliminate any “canned” quality you think you might have.
Make the most of the “Tell me about yourself” question.
Many interviews begin with this question to break the ice. You can respond by going into a story about where you were born, what your parents do, and how many siblings have, which is great! But would you rather have the interviewer write down what kind of dog you have – or why the company should hire you? Consider responding to the question with three selling points about yourself and let the interviewer know that you can expand on the information if they’d like you to. Don’t mess up on the “tell me about yourself” question. It’s a golden opportunity!
Speak the right body language.
Dress appropriately, make eye contact, give a firm handshake, speak clearly, have good posture, and don’t wear perfume or cologne!!!! At times, interview locations are small rooms that may lack good air circulation. You want the interviewer paying attention to your job qualifications instead of passing out because you’ve come in super strong perfume which results in you not getting a job offer.
Be prepared for “behavior-based” interviews.
A common interview style is to ask people to describe experiences they have had that demonstrate behaviors that the company thinks are important for a particular position. For example, you may be asked to talk about a time when you made an unpopular decision, displayed a high level of persistence, or made a decision under time pressure and with limited information. First, look for the behaviors this manager is likely to be looking for. Next, identify at least one example of when you demonstrated each behavior with a story. Finally, practice telling the story. Also, remember to review your resume before the interview with this kind of format in mind; this can help you to remember examples of behaviors you may not have anticipated in advance.
Send thank-you notes.
Write a thank-you note after every interview. Type each note on paper or send them via email, depending on what the interviewer prefers. Customize your notes by referring specifically to what you and the interviewer discussed. FYI, handwritten notes might be better if you’re thanking a personal contact who is helping you in your job search, (or if the company you’re interviewing with is based in Europe). Whatever method you choose to do, thank-you notes should be sent within 48 hours of the interview. To make sure you write an excellent thank-you note, you’ll need to take time after each interview to jot down a few things about what the interviewer said. Also, write down what you could have done better in the interview, and make adjustments before you have another interview.
Don’t give up!
If things weren’t going well for you the day of the interview, and you thought it went over poorly, don’t give up! Everyone has bad days. Write a note, send an email, or call the interviewer to let him or her know that you believe you did a poor job of communicating why you think this job would be a good match for you. Reiterate what you have to offer the company, and say that you’d like an opportunity to contribute. Whether this strategy will get you a job offer really depends on the company, and be sure to say that you’d like an opportunity to contribute. If you don’t try, your chances are actually zero. This approach has worked on numerous occasions. The interviewer will know that you’re very serious about the job and care a lot about the company!
Ace that interview!
GOOD LUCK! 🙂