Top 10 Tips for Acing Your Next Job Interview
Finding a job is tough enough as it is without having to go through harrowing interviews. Here’s everything you need to know about nailing your interview so you can get through it stress-free.
10. First, Get the Interview
Before you can ace your interview, you have to actually get the interview. That means making an awesome resumé and making sure it gets through. Check out our top 10 ways to rock your resumé, and make sure to avoid the items that can kill your chances at getting the job (like a long history of unemployment). Once you’re done, don’t just send it in with the rest. Use your connections and a bit of ingenuity to beat that computerized system and get your resumé into the right hands. If you don’t get the interview, find out why and use that to help you the next time around.
9. Prepare Ahead of Time
So you’ve got the interview, but you still have a lot of work to do before you walk into that building. Writer Alan Skorkin says the main reason most people suck at interviews is a lack of preparation. So, find out as much as you can about the company, research the job, and formulate a strategy to stand out in that interview among all the other candidates. Getting a cheat sheet together and studying it can help you out, too.
8. Make a Good First Impression
Your job interview starts the second you walk in the door, so be ready. Practice walking into a room if you have to. But more than anything, learn how first impressions work and do everything you can to make a good one: be on time, dress and groom yourself well, and be aware of your body language. Remember, just giving a damn will go a long way in your first impression—if you don’t want to be there, they’ll know.
7. Tackle the Tough Questions
Once you’re inside, it’s time for the hard part: answering the interview questions. Know the questions you’ll be expected to answer backwards and forwards, and do some extra research on answering the really tough ones, like “what is your biggest weakness,” “have you ever been fired,” “tell me about a challenge you faced with a coworker,” or even just the ever-vague “tell me about yourself.” Most of your answers will probably follow a specific pattern, so when in doubt, fall back on the STAR technique. But most of all: learn why they’re asking you each question and tailor your responses to their hidden motives. Don’t be afraid to dance around questions you’d rather not answer, too.
6. Ask Some Questions Yourself
Your interviewer shouldn’t be the only one asking questions. This is your chance to not only make a good impression, but learn a bit more about the job you’re applying for. Ask a few questions that will make you look good, as well as some questions that’ll show you whether this is the right job for you. With the right questions prepared, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.
5. Emphasize Your Good Qualities
You’ll probably feel the need to be humble, but don’t. Shameless self-promotion is a good thing in job interviews. In fact, it’s the only thing you can really do to showcase your good qualities. If you don’t have experience to tout, remember that potential is actually more valuable than experience: if you can show why you’re a promising hire, you’re in.
4. Avoid the Common Pitfalls
So you’ve learned what to do, but it’s also important to know what to avoid. Even something as simple as negative body language can sabotage your chances, so make sure you aren’t hurting yourself without knowing it. Research the subjects you should avoid and make sure you don’t overshare, particularly when it comes to your personal life. As long as you don’t raise any red flags, you should be good to go.
3. Recover When Things Go South
Hopefully, with the right preparation, your interview will go smoothly. But, if you end up answering a question terribly or hit a common brick wall (like claims of “overqualification”), learn how to turn the tide quickly so you can get back on good footing. If you leave the interview thinking the whole thing was a disaster, you can always request a second interview explaining the problems you had, too.
2. Follow Up Afterwards
Don’t let your interview be the last they hear from you. If you follow up afterwards, you’ll help them remember who you are, and make sure your resume doesn’t fall into the abyss of the forgotten. Send a thank you note after your interview, and a short email later on to check in if you haven’t heard back. Take into account how you’ve been communicating with them so far, though, as different modes of communication may be more beneficial. If you have a follow up interview, be sure to nail that too.
1. If You Don’t Get Hired, Find Out Why
Not every interview will be a winner, sadly, even if you do everything right. If you don’t get hired, the best thing you can do is find out why and apply that knowledge to your next round of interviews. Look back on your interview and think about what you could have done better, whether it’s avoiding the “overqualification” trap or just simply using better grammar. There are any number of reasons someone might not hire you, and all you can do is use this round as practice for your next interview.