Interviewing can be very stressful. In conducting thousands of interviews and post-interview debriefs with hiring managers, we have come up with several tips for interviewees to make sure they are fully prepared for interviews. There is no silver bullet, but the doing the following will greatly increase you chance of success.
- Make a good first impression. Ask your recruiter what to wear. If you are unsure of what to wear, dress in layers. You can always remove a suit jacket if you find that you are overdressed. Bring extra resumes and take notes.
- Show up early. Being late for an interview can kill the opportunity. Showing up in the nick of time can leave you flustered and anxious. Make sure you know where you are going, how much drive time you need for the time of day, where you are going to park, and how long the walk is to the interview. If possible, scope out the location ahead of time with a drive-by.
- Do your homework. Be prepared to:
- Answer the question “Tell me a little about yourself.” The easiest way to do this is to show your career history chronologically. With each position share the things you have learned and the achievements you accomplished. However, make sure you are only sharing things that are likely relevant to the role. Explain the reason for each move or promotion along the way and do not bad-mouth previous employers. Don’t be afraid to bring your prep notes to the interview. A resume with notes and marked up with a highlighter may be all you need. Keep this between 90 and 150 seconds.
- Give specific answers with specific examples. Clients want to see that you can do what they are asking. Specific examples paint a picture of how your skills, experiences, and successes can be transferable to what the company needs. Never answer a question with “no”: instead, try to relate a similar experience.
- Be prepared to talk about strengths and weaknesses. Write these down. Be comfortable speaking about them. Strengths should relate to the job description. If asked about strengths, be able to provide at least one specific example of that strength. If sharing a weakness, be sure to also talk about how you have learned to successfully manage the weakness and provide an example.
- Determine your greatest professional failure and be able to talk about it if asked. Focus on taking accountability and not shifting blame to others. Share what you learned and give an example of how you used that learning to not make the same failure again.
- Closing the interview and professionally expressing interest is important in bringing your interview full circle. Let the interviewer know you are very interested in the position and let them know why you are interested in the role. Keep all remaining questions positive and ask:
- Is there anything in my background or in my experiences that would keep us from moving forward?
- What are the next steps?
- Follow up with an email immediately. If working with a recruiter, ask them if they thank you should go directly to the hiring manager or if the proper protocol is to send it through the recruiter. Companies expect a thank-you within 24 hours. Thank the hiring manager or interviewer for their time and reiterate why you are a good fit for the role.
If you do these things, you will be well prepared for your next interview. Now relax and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Good luck!
Once you feel confident in your interview skills, why not think about ways to find your next big role? Check out our post on How to Ask Your Network for Help in Finding Your Next Role!