A resume only gives us a limited picture of you. An interview is your opportunity to shine, to sell yourself. It’s also your chance to practice interviewing skills and learn more about the company. Interviewing is like anything else—the more you do it, the better you will become. But if you follow the tips in this post, you may find yourself becoming better faster.
My last post, 10 Tips For A Winning Resume, will help get you to the interview table–maybe. Recruiters sift through hundreds of applications and resumes to cull their interview list down to say, half a dozen or more.
Of course, knowing someone who works at the hiring company gives you enormous advantages. I’ve interviewed several referrals, but we make sure they fit the required qualifications. Having a connection may help get you an interview, but this doesn’t guarantee you will be the successful candidate. Your competition probably knows people too.
Here are 10 tips to help you nail your next interview.
Take time to research the job opening and the company. Understand not only what the company produces, but also the culture and what the company values.
You want to exude confidence and enthusiasm. Ask yourself: Am I gung ho about the company and the job? Does this job propel me toward my long-term career plans?
Dress and conduct yourself professionally. Get a hair cut. Trim your beard. Leave the nose ring behind.
Greet the interview panel with good eye contact and a firm handshake.
Depending on the type of interview, it’s usually appropriate to bring supporting documents, presentations, or portfolios of your work. This could help distinguish you from the competition. And you don’t want to attempt to fit all that information into your resume. Bring copies of your resume also.
Gather some mentors or friends together, and stage a mock interview. To prepare, it’s okay to ask the hiring contact person what type of questions will be asked. Some companies may be more upfront with that information than others. But interview questions often provide the panel a way to see how you respond on the fly.
I can’t tell you all the questions that will be asked, but I can almost guarantee you what the opening will be: Tell us about yourself and what makes you uniquely qualified for the job? This is the most important question of the interview. Don’t give a biography. Don’t tell us about all your hobbies. Focus on your strengths, abilities and experiences that make you the best candidate for the job. Prepare the most for this question.
The questions in-between the opening and closing will help the interviewer determine your background, your experience level, your personality and if you are a decent fit. Always answer questions with relevant, concrete examples. Sometimes you can only answer philosophically, but solid examples invariably trump the theoretical. Good examples demonstrate your skills and potential ability to do the job.
I’m very confident what the closing question will be: Why do you want the job? Don’t minimize this question—it’s critical. Please don’t approach an interview panel and give the impression that you’re just looking for A job—ANY job. You must convince them you want THE job, the specific job in question. They want someone who genuinely desires the position and embraces the company’s vision and values. In most cases, they see you as a long-term investment. They may even be trying to determine if you’re the type person who would move up in the company.
At the end, you will probably be asked if you have questions. Please be smart here and ask appropriate and intelligent questions. For example, it’s usually not the best time to ask about salary or perks. Asking good questions helps to reinforce your interest in the company, and it shows you’ve done your homework.
There you have it. If you follow these tips, you will become much better with interviews. But don’t expect to nail every interview. If you aren’t successful, don’t become discouraged. Do ask for feedback. Take that feedback and improve for the next interview.
Hope this was helpful. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
I welcome your comments. Please share your favorite interview tips that have worked for you.
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