Top 10 Tips For Acing Your Next Job Interview

Finding a job is tough enough as it is without having to go through harrowing interviews. Here's everything you need to know about nailing them so you can get through it stress-free.

Title illustration by Tina Mailhot-Roberge.

10. First, Get The Interview

Before you can ace your interview, you have to actually get the interview. That means making an awesome resumé and making sure it gets through. Check out our top 10 ways to rock your resumé and make sure to avoid the items that can kill your chances at getting the job (like a long history of unemployment).

Once you're done, don't just send it in with the rest. Use your connections and a bit of ingenuity to beat that computerized system and get your resumé into the right hands. If you don't get the interview, find out why and use that to help you the next time around. Image: Lisa F. Young (Shutterstock).

9. Prepare Ahead Of Time

<So you've got the interview, but you still have a lot of work to do before you walk into that building. Writer Alan Skorkin says the main reason most people suck at interviews is a lack of preparation. So, find out as much as you can about the company, research the job and formulate a strategy to stand out in that interview among all the other candidates. Getting a cheat sheet together and studying it can help you out, too. Image: iQoncept (Shutterstock).

8. Make A Good First Impression

Your job interview starts the second you walk in the door, so be ready. Practice walking into a room if you have to. But more than anything, learn how first impressions work and do everything you can to make a good one: be on time, dress and groom yourself well and be aware of your body language. Remember, just giving a damn will go a long way in your first impression — if you don't want to be there, they'll know. Photo remixed from an original by by Cameramannz (Shutterstock).

7. Tackle The Tough Questions

Once you're inside, it's time for the hard part: answering the interview questions. Know the questions you'll be expected to answer backwards and forwards and do some extra research on answering the really tough ones, like "what is your biggest weakness", "have you ever been fired", "tell me about a challenge you faced with a coworker", or even just the ever-vague "tell me about yourself". Most of your answers will probably follow a specific pattern, so when in doubt, fall back on the STAR technique. But most of all: learn why they're asking you each question and tailor your responses to their hidden motives. Don't be afraid to dance around questions you'd rather not answer, too.

6. Ask Some Questions Yourself

Your interviewer shouldn't be the only one asking questions. This is your chance to not only make a good impression, but learn a bit more about the job you're applying for. Ask a few questions that will make you look good, as well as some questions that'll show you whether this is the right job for you. With the right questions prepared, you'll be one step ahead of the competition. Image: bpsusf.

5. Emphasise Your Good Qualities

You'll probably feel the need to be humble, but don't. Shameless self-promotion is a good thing in job interviews. In fact, it's the only thing you can really do to showcase your good qualities. If you don't have experience to tout, remember that potential is actually more valuable than experience: if you can show why you're a promising hire, you're in. Title image remixed from StockLite (Shutterstock).

4. Avoid The Common Pitfalls

So you've learned what to do, but it's also important to know what to avoid. Even something as simple as negative body language can sabotage your chances, so make sure you aren't hurting yourself without knowing it. Research the subjects you should avoid and make sure you don't overshare, particularly when it comes to your personal life. As long as you don't raise any red flags, you should be good to go. Image: Lisa S (Shutterstock).

3. Recover When Things Go South

Hopefully, with the right preparation, your interview will go smoothly. But, if you end up answering a question terribly or hit a common brick wall (like claims of "overqualification"), learn how to turn the tide quickly so you can get back on good footing. If you leave the interview thinking the whole thing was a disaster, you can always request a second interview explaining the problems you had, too. Image: Tuomas Puikkonen.

2. Follow Up Afterwards

Don't let your interview be the last they hear from you. If you follow up afterwards, you'll help them remember who you are and make sure your resume doesn't fall into the abyss of the forgotten. Send a thank you note after your interview and a short email later on to check in if you haven't heard back. Take into account how you've been communicating with them so far, though, as different modes of communication may be more beneficial. If you have a follow up interview, be sure to nail that too. Photo by pjcross (Shutterstock).

1. If You Don't Get Hired, Find Out Why

Not every interview will be a winner, sadly, even if you do everything right. If you don't get hired, the best thing you can do is find out why and apply that knowledge to your next round of interviews. Look back on your interview and think about what you could have done better, whether it's avoiding the "overqualification" trap or just simply using better grammar. There are any number of reasons someone might not hire you and all you can do is use this round as practice for your next interview.


Comments

    8. - Don't practice walking. That would be ridiculous.

    7. Tough questions are questions. And all you need to do with tough questions is provide answers, which is what you should be doing with all questions. So if you're asked "have you ever been fired" the question should be no tougher than "do you know how to tie your shoes", or even "did you practice how to walk this morning". You know the answer to the question - you either have been fired, or you haven't been. All you need to do is relay that to the interviewer. It's not that difficult.

    DON'T tailor your answers to what you guess is the interviewers hidden motives. Just be yourself and answer honestly. Second guessing is just going to make the process overly complicated, convoluted and stressful for you and it doesn't have to be that way. The interviewer wants to talk to YOU, and not have some riddle-fest puzzle of a conversation based on lies and half-truths.

    What's the worst that can happen? They don't like your honest answers and on that basis decide not to offer you the job. Is that a disaster? No. Why would you want to work for a company that ultimately doesn't respect you. There are other jobs out there, try to find one that suits you.

    Don't follow the STAR technique (not that I know what that is). Don't follow any technique. Don't have a strategy. Just. Be. Your. Blinking. Self.

    6. Ask questions at an appropriate stage - typically at the end of an interview. Sure, interjections are natural in a conversation but in general the interviewer will not want to be side-tracked by your curiosities mid-flow. If you have a serious question, in which the answer may have a significant impact on your suitability or desire for the position then it would be appropriate and pertinent to ask the question early on, but if it's a trivial question in which the answer isn't really going to affect the hiring decision either way, then wait to ask the question later.

    All interviewers know that all candidates know that asking questions creates a good impression. Don't ask obvious questions just for the sake of it. Interviewers don't really want their time wasted. If you have a genuine question, prepared or otherwise, ask it. If you don't, don't.

    5. I personally don't buy into the argument that potential is better than experience. In some cases the employer will be determined to secure someone with a minimum level of experience, and in other cases the employer will be very open. If the employer is focused on experience that you don't have then all the potential in the world will not help you secure the role.

    4. The main pitfall is to remember to act respectfully, and to remember that you may not be judged as the best candidate. The employer isn't obliged to love your application.

    3. Sure, you could request a second interview. I couldn't imagine a circumstance in which you'd be granted one though.

    1. No harm in reflecting, naturally. Expecting a detailed response from the interviewer is unrealistic. You don't necessarily need to know why you weren't offered the role. You already know the answer. They had another applicant that they felt was more suitable than yourself. There's no need, nor point, to take that personally - it's just a part of life, and in any case there are other jobs out there.

    Here are my top interview tips...

    - Prepare. Know the details of the position - the duties and the primary aspects of the employer. You don't need to know everything about them as it's an interview and not a tax audit.

    - Be honest and be yourself. Don't lie, don't misrepresent, don't even "butter things up". If they don't like you, they don't like you. Worse things can happen.

    - Listen to the interviewer. Be respectful. Don't interrupt. Don't avoid their questions. Don't waffle on for 10 minutes about something completely irrelevant. The interviewer is giving you their time. They have other people to interview. They have other things to do. They're busy people, as you are. They also have a difficult job. They have to ask you tough questions that you may not appreciate. Don't make their job any more difficult. Work with them, not against them.

    - Be realistic. The chances are that you won't get the job. Those are the cold hard facts. Face it. In most cases their will be many, many more applicants than there are positions. Some of those applicants will have the same or better level of experience, qualifications and general suitability as you do. You think you're a good applicant, they may think differently. And they're entitled to. Remember, they've had the luxury to review many applicants - you've not. I'm not suggesting that you go into an interview with a defeatist attitude but just take the edge off of your expectations. Just relax a little. You may be the best applicant for the job, you may not be,

    An interview is an opportunity for the employer and applicant to discuss the position and to try to identify if there is a strong connection. As an applicant, all you need to do is help the interviewer make their decision. If they decide that there isn't a strong connection, it doesn't mean it was a bad interview. It doesn't mean that you walked into the room a bit wonky. It doesn't mean that the interviewer was blind to your strengths or didn't have the smarts to recognize your natural talents. It just means that in this extremely competitive market the employer felt that there was at least one more suitable applicant. It's just a part of life. Nothing to stress about.

    Don't expect your job hunting prospects to increase significantly on the basis of a short article advising common sense based techniques to improve your chances, unless it's written by me.

    Last edited 13/01/13 1:40 pm

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