10 Best Steps to Nail Your Next Interview
Have you gotten to the near final step in your job search? Be sure to follow these best interview tips to help improve the odds getting the job you want.
Understanding the Job
1. Get to know the larger context of the company an the industry it fits into
Knowing the ebbs and flows of an industry by reading up on recent news and getting to know the general trends of the workplace you’re going to interview at goes a long way in getting yourself suited to be hired. It’ll give you a quick summary of important jargon and keywords as well as an inside look on the concerns your interviewer might have.
One of the best way to differentiate yourself in a job interview is to show that you have more than a cursory interest in their work. Would you rather hire someone who’s come to your work to just collect a paycheck, or someone who’s convinced you that the job they’re applying or is part of their broader interests and passions?
2. Reread the job description and tailor-fit your message to it
After you familiarize yourself with the industry and workplace you’re going to be interviewing at (it’s best that you’ve done this at the applying stage), it’s time to revisit the job description you’re interviewing for to prepare yourself to gravitate your words towards primary keywords.
Take time to get a sense of both the terms that are stated in the job description as well as synonyms of those terms so you can craft an organic, compelling message that you really fit the position on an almost “born (or built) for it” kind of level.
Best Interview Tip: Remember, too, that your interviewer is often hiring a direct coworker so always be sure to check your professionalism in your interview with soft skills that demonstrate that you’re a pleasure to be around in a general sense.
3. Know the level of job you're applying for and anticipate likely questions in advance
Entry level, mid-level, and senior level positions all have their own most-likely questions and it’s a good idea to be familiar with the general sense of the questions that will be thrown your way.
Search for a bank of questions in advance and prepare a brief set of bullets of your own personal stories and experiences to use when answering them.
Best Interview Tip: Use your bullets where they’d make their best impact. Don’t tell a story for a interpersonal experience question that’d work better for a technical expertise question (this is something to prepare in advance by ranking which story is roughly best for which type of question).
Fitting Yourself to the Job
4. Study your resume; know the compelling stories behind each point
Your interviewer isn’t a mind reader and doesn’t know anything besides the information which you’ve submitted to the company. This is often limited to just your resume and your cover letter.
Study your resume! Imagine that the resume and cover letter you’ve submitted is the advertisement to the product of you.
By familiarizing yourself with your resume, you can know where you stand in your interviewers’ minds and which angles you can take to best position yourself to be selected for the job you’re interviewing for. Bonus points if you’ve done your research on your interviewers to hyper-target your message by knowing both their ideas on you, and an idea of their own personal experiences.
5. Use the STAR method to outline the stories you'll be using to answer interview questions
The Situation, Task, Action, Result organizational method in answering your interview questions helps both you and your interviewer.
For you, it makes sure that you know which points you’ll need to hit in each story you answer with. For your interviewer, it helps major points hit home. Consistent formatting allows for a less boggled mind to digest your message and keeps dialogue constructive.
Best Interview Tip: For many interviewers this format is mandatory, so it’s also important to get down besides being helpful for structuring your interview answers.
6. Create a bullet list of especially compelling professional stories to include in your interview kit
Have you experienced something in your academic and professional life? Chances are that you can format that into a story. Often, a single word or phrase can help you recollect your experiences in a way your brain might not be able to do so easily if you don’t have notes on hand in an interview.
You should have a long list of bullet points (with your strongest stories at the top) of quick summaries of your experiences. Too often, great candidates are undermined by poor on-the-spot recollection.
7. If possible, debut your interview stories to professional peers or friends
This point almost goes without saying. Getting the second hand opinion of colleagues can be the difference, sometimes, between getting the job or not.
The main point of doing this is to determine if there’s any weak spots in your interview, or if you’re leaving great opportunities to sell yourself on the table.
Best Interview Tip: Interviews often don’t go as well as they can for a lack of capitalizing on opportunities, not for saying the wrong thing (usually).
8. Include a chronological structure of how your interview is likely to advance in your interview kit
Keeping a personal note in your interview kit on the general structure of the interview can be a game changer for you if you often slip up in terms of hitting big points during the interview (such as a differentiating opener and closing remarks).
Best Interview Tip: It’s best to practice (take a video to make a side-by-side comparison) with differing levels of interview-kit-packed preparation to see which level you perform best with.
9. Have your interview attire and interview kit prepared in advance
This is another one of those things that go without saying but it’s worth restating due to the, perhaps, subconscious weight you lift off your shoulders by doing this.
Generally speaking, the more preparation that you have, the more mental capacity that’ll be available at the interview.
10. Always have uniquely tailored questions to ask your interviewers towards the end of your interview
The interview isn’t over until you’re all the way out of sight and in your car and far from the building (and, conversely, starts the moment you’re in your car). The last minutes of the interview could be what push you past an unseen candidate who’s in a neck-and-neck battle for the job with you.
Show genuine interest in the workplace, the culture, and use ending remarks to demonstrate that you’d be a great coworker. I always use this time to ask if I can address any concerns the interviewers might have with my candidacy and that’s often a great move (it shows that you’re both considerate and confident).
Best Interview Tip: Make sure to collect contact information right at the near-end of the interview, and follow up! Be sure to thank your interviewer for taking the time to review your candidacy.