You’ve submitted your resume and cover letter. Now you’ve been offered an interview. Congratulations! To make sure you’ll be successful at this next stage of the job application process, you’ll want to prepare. Follow these 10 kick-ass strategies to get the job you want!
1. Practice, refine, practice some more. Think of the many celebrities and politicians you’ve seen interviewed; no doubt they have been well prepared. Practice will enable you to quickly answer the interviewer’s questions without being caught off guard. You’ll also be able to convey the information that you most want the interviewer to know about you.
2. Have a brief summary of your professional past in mind. Most of the questions will likely be about your past work experience. Be prepared to discuss your responsibilities at jobs you held with other companies. Even open-ended questions like “Tell me about yourself,” are designed to elicit responses about your professional background moreso than your personal attributes.
If you have any gaps in your employment, you may be asked to explain them. Present your situation in a positive light. Clarify how you used the time productively and kept your skills up to date during that time away from work.
3. Focus on the positive. When answering, be honest, but present yourself in your best light. Expound on your successes and accomplishments, but don’t ramble. If you can provide specific examples to illustrate your points, do so, but only give one or two. More than that will bore the interviewer.
4. Express confidence, not arrogance. Yes, it’s a fine line to walk. At a job interview you’re expected to toot your own horn. After all, if you don’t tell the interviewer about your accomplishments, he won’t get a true picture of who you are. Ideally, you should be able to support your claims with facts.
For example, if you say that you’re a good salesman, you can provide some figures that prove your abilities. Perhaps you increased sales at your last company by 10% or you were responsible for $3 million in sales the past year. Those are pretty compelling facts certainly worth sharing.
5. Be straightforward about weaknesses. If asked about your weaknesses, don’t deny having them. Come on, we all have at least a few. But rather than focus on your problem areas, explain how you are taking steps to overcome those issues. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to delegate, explain how you’re learning to identify tasks that can be passed to others to increase team productivity.
6. Choose your words carefully when talking about your past. In describing previous jobs and employers, resist the temptation to badmouth. While your feelings may be justified, you won’t seem professional if you speak negatively. Instead be tactful and diplomatic. Explain career moves in terms of your plans to grow and learn.
7. Smile as you speak. A pleasant expression will make you appear to be relaxed. Besides, nobody likes a grouch.
8. Be a good listener. An interview should be a conversation in which both parties participate. If you want to establish a rapport with the interviewer, you’ll need to appear interested in what he’s saying. Make good eye contact. Let him finish his thoughts before speaking. Stay focused on answering the specific questions he’s asking.
9. Ask questions. You should also be prepared to ask some questions of your own about the company and the responsibilities of the position you’re applying for. Your interest will be noted and you’ll also have more information to use in deciding if this is the right job for you.
10. Be a natural, but professional version of your true self. You want to be memorable, but in a good way. As in a social situation, you should be polite, nice and likable.
Follow these guidelines and you’re sure to ace your next interview and get the job offer you want!