The job search is rarely a simple process. You can spend weeks—sometimes even longer – sending out resumes before you get a callback for an interview. Because of how competitive the process can be, it’s critical that you make a good impression when you get the opportunity.
With that in mind, the following are nine tips to help you prepare for your interview and make sure you ace it.
1. Learn As Much About The Role As Possible
The best way to prepare for an interview is to learn as much about the role as possible. Not only will this help you answer questions more confidently, but it will also show the interviewer that you’re genuinely interested in the role. The following are a couple of ways to learn more about the role before your interview:
Review The Job Description
When reviewing the job description of the job you are interviewing for, take note of the key skills and qualifications required for the role. Doing so will give you a good idea of the questions the hiring manager may ask during the interview.
In addition, try to identify areas where your experience or qualifications align closely with the role. This will allow you to highlight your strengths and demonstrate why you’re the best candidate for the job.
Research The Company
When you take the time to research the company, you’ll be able to learn more about the company culture, values, and mission. This information will give you a better understanding of what it’s like to work there and whether it’s the right fit for you.
In addition, research can help you prepare for questions about the company, showing the interviewer that you’re truly interested in working there.
2. Show Up (Literally And Figuratively)
Showing up to the interview is one thing, but actually being present is another. Once you’re in the interview, turn off your phone and give the interviewer your undivided attention. The following are a few tips to ensure that you make a great first impression when you show up – both literally and figuratively.
One of the first things people notice when they meet someone is their appearance. Not to mention, the way you dress will reflect on your professionalism. Therefore, it’s important to dress appropriately for your interview. Depending on the company’s dress code, dress more formally.
For example, if you’re going in for a managerial position at a bank, dressing formally is probably the way to go. If you’re interviewing at a startup tech company, then you may want to dress more casually.
Don’t Be Late
The last thing you’ll want to do is to be late for your interview. It’s unprofessional and will leave a poor first impression. Punctuality is important because:
- It shows that you’re reliable and trustworthy: If you can’t show up on time for an interview, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to show up on time for work. As a result, the interviewer will assume that you’re not dependable. After all, if you can’t even show up on time, what guarantee is there that you’ll be able to meet deadlines?
- It shows that you respect the interviewer’s time: Arriving late for an interview can send the wrong message that you don’t value the interviewer’s time or are not interested in the role. Showing up on time (or even early) shows that you’re serious about the position—so be sure to plan ahead to make sure you get to your interview on time.
- Being late can throw off the entire interview: If you are late, the interviewer may feel rushed and won’t get the chance to ask you all the questions they had planned. As a result, this can make it more difficult for you to highlight why you are the best candidate for the job.
Show Off Your Strengths
With interviews, it’s essential to highlight your strengths. After all, the interviewer wants to know what makes you the best candidate for the job. The interview is your chance to show off your skills and show why you’re the best person for the position.
To do this, focus on the most relevant qualities to the role. For example, if you are applying for a leadership position, discuss your experience with leading teams or solving problems. By highlighting your strengths with real-world examples, you’ll be more likely to impress the interviewer and land the job.
Relax As Much As Possible
Looking and feeling relaxed can help you appear focused and engaged during an interview. This is important for several reasons:
- It shows that you are confident in your abilities
- It makes you more likable and easy to talk to
- It shows that you are comfortable with the interviewer and the situation
If you’re feeling anxious, it’s okay to take a few deep breaths and pause for a moment. Doing so will help you relax and refocus on the interview.
Avoid Rude Behavior
While it’s important to be relaxed and comfortable during an interview, you’ll want to avoid being too casual. Do not badmouth others or make crude jokes. This type of behavior will make you appear unprofessional and will probably cost you the opportunity to get the job.
Even if you seem to get along with the interviewer, don’t get too casual—you don’t know them personally, so maintain a professional attitude.
3. Hone Your Storytelling Skills
Using storytelling to answer questions is an excellent way to engage interviewers. After all, stories are a great way to learn about someone’s experiences and get a sense of their personality. When telling a story, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Make sure the story applies to the question
- Keep it concise—you don’t want to exhaust the hiring manager with a long-winded story
- Focus on the positive elements. For example, if you’re talking about how you solved a problem at work, don’t focus too much on the negative aspects of the problem. Instead, focus on how you solved it and what the outcome was.
As you tell the interviewer examples of your skills and experiences through stories, be sure to highlight your successes and downplay your failures. By doing so, you’ll be more likely to make a favorable impression.
4. Customize Your Answers To The Company and Position
Every interview is different because every company is different – even if the jobs you’re applying for are similar. This means you should customize your answers to each interview so that you can show you’ve done your research and understand the company.
Tailoring your replies to the specifics of the company and job will help show interviewers you’re pondering the questions and not just providing generic answers. Doing so can also help you show your critical thinking skills, since you’re responding on the spot instead of just providing generic answers that you memorized beforehand.
5. Practice Your Answers To Common Questions
Although every interview is different, some questions are asked more often than others. Go over some commonly asked questions before your interview and practice your answers. Doing so will help you feel more confident and prepared when the time comes.
6. Anticipate Common Interviewing Strategies
Hiring managers often employ a variety of interviewing strategies when conducting interviews. For example, while some interviewers stick to traditional questions, others may try to catch you off guard with more creative or challenging questions. The following are a couple of common interviewing strategies that hiring managers employ:
The STAR Method
The Situation, Task, Action, and Result (STAR) method is an interviewing strategy that is commonly used to assess how you’ve handled specific work-related challenges in the past. When answering these kinds of questions, provide a particular example and describe the steps you took to address the challenge.
Brain teasers assess your problem-solving skills. While there’s no one-size-fits-all response to these types of questions, taking your time and thinking through each problem carefully is essential to arrive at a logical answer. In addition, interviewers often ask these types of questions to see how you react under pressure, so stay calm and focused.
7. Have Questions Ready For Your Interviewer
One of the most effective ways to stand out in an interview is to ask thoughtful and insightful questions. Doing so will help you show that you’ve done research into the company and are genuinely interested in the position.
Additionally, asking questions can also help you learn more about the job and company, giving you a better sense of whether or not the job is the right fit for you.
When preparing questions for your interviewer, avoid any that a quick Google search can easily answer. Instead, focus on questions that will help you learn more about the company culture, values, and expectations. The following are a few topics you can bring up, and a few to avoid:
Topics To Bring Up
When coming up with questions to ask at your interview, consider the following topics:
- Office Culture: Questions such as, “What is the office culture like?” and “Do employees typically socialize outside of work?” can give you a better understanding of the company’s office culture. This information gives context to the role, and can help you determine whether or the job will be a good fit for you.
- Clarifications About Job Description: If there is anything you’re unclear about in the job description, asking questions about the job can help you better understand all the elements of the role. This is particularly important, so you know what will be expected of you if they hire you.
Topics To Avoid
When a hiring manager ends the interview by asking if you have questions, avoid the following topics:
- Salary: Asking about the salary too early in the interview process can make you appear more interested in money than the job itself. Although you should be prepared to talk about your salary expectations if you’re asked, wait until the next steps in the application process to bring it up.
- Benefits: Asking about benefits, vacation days, and other perks before they have even offered you the job can make you appear presumptuous. However, if the interviewer asks about benefits or perks, then you can offer your perspective or expectations. Otherwise, it’s best to wait until later in the process.
8. Be Professional (But Honest) About Your Experience
If your resume is less than ideal and the interview has questions about it, such as a lack of skills, experience, education, be honest. It’s much better to address these questions upfront than to hide it, lie, or make excuses. With that in mind, the following are a few ways to address uncomfortable topics that the interviewer may bring up:
When You Seem Overqualified for The Job
Be honest about your motivations if the interviewer asks why you’re interested in a position when you seem overqualified. For example, you may describe that you are looking for a change of scenery or a new challenge that your current job isn’t offering.
On the other hand, maybe you’re impressed by the company and hope that working for them will present further career opportunities. Whatever your reasons may be, be honest and avoid sounding negative or ungrateful about your current situation.
When You Have Gaps In Your Work History
There’s no need to lie about employment gaps on your resume. If the interviewer asks about them, explain what you were doing during that time. For example, maybe you took time off to raise a family or care for a sick relative.
Or maybe you were unemployed and used the time to volunteer or take classes to improve your skills. Whatever the case, be honest and explain what you did during that time as it can actually work in your favor to show that you lead a balanced life.
When You’re Not On Good Terms With Your Former Or Current Company
If you left your last job on bad terms, the interviewer might ask about it. Be honest and describe your experiences or what led to the conflict.
Additionally, try to avoid speaking negatively about your former employer. For example, you might say that you didn’t see eye-to-eye with your former boss occasionally, but you’re hoping to find a better working relationship with your next employer.
Badmouthing your former employer should be avoided as it is unprofessional—not to mention that the hiring manager may know the people you are referring to.
9. Follow Up Whenever Possible
Following up after an interview is vital for a few reasons. First, it shows that you’re still interested in the position. Second, it shows that you’re professional and courteous. Third, it also allows you to address anything that may have come up during the interview that you didn’t address at the time.
Finally, following up will help ensure that the interviewer will remember your name (and your interview).
Ace Your Next Interview With Style
In job interviews, it’s important to show the interviewer that you’re genuinely interested in the job and the company. Always approach the interview with confidence and a positive attitude.
Take the time to learn about the company beforehand so you can ask all the right questions and show your interest in the organization. Showing a genuine interest in the company will go a long way in impressing the interviewer and boosting your chances of getting the job.