So you’ve applied for a slew of jobs, sent out a bunch of resumes, and now a prospective employer has called you for an interview. You may feel a mix of emotions ranging from excitement to panic, all in the same moment. An interview is a perfect opportunity for you and the employer to assess if you are right for each other. On the other hand, there’s a lot riding on those few minutes you spend with the interviewer. The more prepared you are going into the interview, the better your chances of success. Here are five tips to help you nail it.
1. Research the Company and Position
The first thing you need to do is effectively become an expert on the company you’re applying to. Learn about the industry, company history, organizational culture and interview process they use with prospective employees. Read through their website thoroughly and find out all you can about the day-to-day workings of the company. This will give you a sense of what is expected of you, what the company looks for in its employees, and how the interview is likely to be structured.
Next, find out who your potential interviewer is and research them, too, so when you meet them, you’ll know something about their background and expertise. You should also keep an eye on their social media profiles so that you’re aware of any news they happen to post. The more informed you are about the company, position, and interviewer, the more confidently you can approach the interview itself.
2. Prepare Answers to Common Interview Questions
If you’ve done job interviews recently, you probably already know some of the most common questions you could be asked. For example:
“What are your greatest strengths?”
“What is your greatest weakness?”
“What is your ideal work environment?”
“What accomplishments are you most proud of?”
“Tell us about a time when you set a goal and reached it.”
Take some time to think out some clear, detailed answers to these and other common questions. For the best impact, think about the company itself, as well as the position you’re applying for, and align your answers with that company and position. For example, if you’re asked, “How would you respond to this-and-such situation?”, assume they’re talking about their own company and answer the question in that context. When answering questions, provide examples about how your work experience aligns with the company’s needs.
Practice answering these questions in the mirror or with a friend/coach until they come out naturally and don’t sound rehearsed. You should also be prepared for interviewer follow-ups such as “How do you handle frustration?” or “Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond for an employer.” The more prepared you are with thoughtful answers, the better chance you’ll have of showing how well you would fit into the company culture. (Click here for a list of some common interview questions.)
3. Be Respectful of Their Time
Given the current job market, chances are you aren’t the only one interviewing for this position–and even if the employer intends to wait until everyone has an interview before hiring someone, they’re still making up their minds as they go. Timeliness is part of your all-important first impression. If you’re having an in-person interview, be on time (meaning at least 10 minutes early). If you’re interviewing remotely by Zoom or Skype, be ready to go at the scheduled interview time. Doing so shows respect for the interviewer’s time and demonstrates self-discipline and thoroughness–all of which are highly desirable qualities in an employee.
4. Frame Yourself as an Asset
Do you know why I had you do all that research on the company in the first tip above? So you could identify the company’s needs, learn about the position they’re filling, and position yourself as the perfect fit for that position based on your prior experience. (That’s also why I said to align your answers to interview questions around the company and the position.) Be modest, but confident. Your skills and expertise are what this company needs, so every time you have the opportunity to speak, try to speak specifically to the company’s needs and how you can help. By doing this, you’re making the conversation about them, not about you or your need for a job. The more they can visualize you in that position, the more likely they are to make an offer. So make sure they see you that way.
5. Prepare Five Points
One last “secret weapon” I like to recommend to my clients when prepping for an interview: identify five points you want to make—points that demonstrate why you are an ideal candidate for the job you’re seeking. Keep these points in mind as you go through the interview and look for opportunities to say them. If the interview questions don’t give you an opportunity, then save them for the end when you’ll get the inevitable question, “Is there anything else you’d like to add?” Sharing these five points ensures that you don’t leave anything unsaid that you feel you “should have said,” and you can walk out of the interview confident that you gave your best effort.
If you want more one-on-one help prepping for that next job, I’m here as always. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s set you up with a free 30-minute consultation.