A new job can unlock a whole world of possibilities, but the pressure to favorably present your skills, experience, and your ability to make a good first impression can make any job search an intimidating endeavor.
Although the interview process can be daunting, preparation is the key to building your confidence and proving that you’re the best candidate. Learn how to ace an interview with 19 steps that will help you stand out and succeed.
Educating yourself on the company you’re interviewing for serves two important purposes. First, it helps ensure that the company’s mission and culture align with your own interests, career goals, and values. Second, the ability to authentically incorporate this knowledge into an interview shows that you are thoughtful, well-prepared, and truly interested in becoming a member of their team.
Prepare yourself by reading the website thoroughly, following their social media feeds, checking any interesting or relevant results on Google, searching reviews on GlassDoor, and reviewing the LinkedIn profiles of anyone participating in the interview. Take notes to help you formulate questions that demonstrate a genuine interest in the company and what they do.
Take the time to read the job description again carefully prior to your interview. Make a list of the skills, experience, or qualifications you have that prove that you’re a viable candidate, using specific examples or quantifiable metrics as often as possible.
Also, pay attention to the specific adjectives used when they describe the type of candidate they’re seeking in the job listing; look for opportunities to include those words (or synonyms) into your interview answers or relay anecdotes that exhibit those qualities when you’re asked behavioral questions.
Keep things organized (for your own sake).
Even if your home workspace isn’t visible to your interviewer, it’s important to clean up the area around you before an interview. Research shows that when our space is messy, so are we. If your space is cluttered, you’re more likely to feel stressed, anxious, or depressed — all of which can impact your performance in an interview.
Don’t be afraid to talk about the future.
Don’t be afraid to look to the future with the questions you ask at the end of a job interview. You can ask about how promotions are handled, what growth looks like at the organization, and where employees have moved on to in the past. This will show your potential employer that if you are hired, you can see a future at the company.
2) Practice your answers to common interview questions.
It’s natural to worry about how you’ll answer an interviewer’s questions, especially during your first interview. What if you don’t have a good response? What if you stumble your way through your answers? The only way to address these worries is to prepare and practice. Here are some example answers to the most common job interview questions.
Getting Ready. Get a good night’s sleep and give yourself plenty of time to get ready for the interview. When choosing what to wear, consider that it is better to be overdressed for your interview than underdressed, even if you know that the working environment is casual. Similarly, be sure to be neat, clean and well-groomed. Refrain from perfume, cologne, large jewelry, or revealing clothing. Plan on arriving 10-15 minutes early. If you are driving to the interview, know the directions and where you will park, and be sure to factor in traffic. If you are taking public transportation, know the route, schedules, and fares ahead of time. Bring along a notepad and pen, extra copies of your resume, and the notes from your preparation.
The interviewer already knows from your resume that you have the basic qualifications for the job. Your primary goal for the interview is to demonstrate that you have the full range of characteristics that will make you successful in the position In general, employers look for certain traits, such as are you: Capable, Confident, Dependable, Enthusiastic, Flexible, Persistent, and/or Resourceful? To determine if you have these qualities, the interviewer will assess every aspect of what you say and how you behave from the moment you walk through the door until you leave. This assessment includes the substance of your answers to his or her questions as well as numerous non-verbal cues. Such non-verbal cues include your facial expressions, posture, dress and appearance, eye contact, and demeanor. The following are some key points for a successful interview:
Brag Appropriately. An interview is not the time for modesty. Tell the interviewer about the accomplishments you are most proud of, what you have learned from them, and how they relate to the job you are applying for. Ideally, you will have several accomplishments from previous work experience that you are prepared to discuss, but you may also discuss accomplishments from your education or personal life if they are appropriate to the situation.
Emphasize the Positive. You should always describe your experiences in a positive way. Explain for the interviewer what your strengths are, including technical skills and personal qualities. If you have faced challenges in the past, how did you overcome them and what have you learned from them. Describe how you stay motivated to do your best work. Avoid being negative about anything, especially past employers. If you need to discuss a bad experience, describe it as a learning experience. If you need to discuss a weakness, describe how you work to improve in that area.
Be Prepared for Common Questions. The following are examples of common interview questions. Consider creating flashcards to help you prepare. There are many resources on-line or in your local library to help you think through how to answer any number of specific questions. Whatever you are asked, take a few moments to consider your response carefully, provide examples, and answer in a way that makes you a more attractive future employee.