Is a job interview an art or a science? Either way, how to interview well, depends on a few keys steps.
A big part of interviewing well comes from preparation. Think about it like competing in a race. If you haven’t been doing any training, you will be out of shape, and fall behind others who have been exercising these muscles. Preparing for a job interview, especially when you haven’t interviewed for a while, can be a pretty extensive process.
How do you become well prepared?
First, do your homework on the job. You need to understand the organization and what it’s about. And you need to understand, to the best you can, what your job will look like before you walk in the door for your interview.
Next, prepare answers to the questions you need to answer well. Every job and industry has some questions that are asked in practically every interview. Messing up these questions lets the interviewer dismiss you as a candidate pretty easily. So brainstorm this list on your own as best as you can, and also look in online forums and discussion groups. See how other job seekers in your industry described their interview experiences.
In addition, there is probably a list of other questions you can be expected to answer. Practice answering these questions. Practice simply helps the interview to go well. It gives you confidence. It also gives you stronger questions. Even when you aren’t asked a specific question you will find that the answers you prepared can help you address other questions that do arise. Thinking through strong answers and practicing is extremely valuable to you.
If possible, I would also recommend participating in practice interview. If you practice how to interview your best with a friend or colleague, you will perform better during the actual interview. The value of this preparation will depend on how much time you spend prior to the interview.
Right Before Your Interview
Before you head to your interview, make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the position. When in doubt wear a suit. Also make sure that you know where you’re headed and who you’re meeting with. Nothing’s worse than showing up at a security desk and having no idea where to go next.
In the Interview
When you are in your interview, you want to present yourself with your best foot forward. Like a first date, you want to be honest and be yourself while avoiding a discussion of your flaws and imperfections. If you want the interview to go well, avoid being negative. Do your best to leave any baggage at the door. Instead, even when speaking about tough situations, identify what you learned and the challenges you overcame.
Never speak badly about a prior boss or co-worker. Always be polite and nice. This includes saying thank you to the security guard and building rapport with the receptionist.
After your interview
Even when the interview went well, how you act afterwards can make or break getting the job offer. After your interview, follow up promptly with a well-written thank you note. If you spoke to multiple people, send each person a thank you note within 24 hours.
If you can get a paper thank you note delivered the day after your interview, feel free to use traditional mail. If not, email is fine.
If you don’t hear back about the job, follow up. If they turn you down, but it appears that they still liked you, ask them for introductions to other firms.
If you are given a job offer, remember to negotiate the salary. They may say no to a higher amount, but unless you act like a total jerk, there is really very little danger to your job offer.
Looking at this article, you will see that the largest section is about preparing for the interview. Olympic athletes will spend years training for a few hours of actual competition per year. The key to how to interview well is to also invest a fair bit of time in your interview prep.
To learn more about how we can help you prepare more quickly and effectively, so you overcome nerves and feel ready, take a look here.