Interviewing Success Strategies
An interview is one of the biggest business events that can end up making a huge change in your career direction – and your life for that matter!
Because of the potential for a “big opportunity” the possibility of nervousness can enter the picture for many people. Unfortunately, appearing relaxed is one of the biggest positive attributes to a successful interview.
So the big question is how to become (or appear to be) relaxed? Two words:
The simple fact is that when you’re more prepared – the less nervous you will be.
You might not ever be able to calm the interviewing butterflies 100%, but by being prepared for your interview, you can drive that figure up to 90-95%.
The fact that you are reading this article, along with the commitment of reading other articles and books on interviewing, is a big step on the road to interview preparedness.
Keep in mind that some of the interview tips in this article may be considered “basic” for seasoned interview pros, but even the pros sometime lose track of the basics. With that in mind here are some factors to consider.
One of the biggest ways to be prepared is to make sure you have command of all the logistics of the interview. The: who, what, where, when, how, and why.
Some examples of logistical steps would be finding out is much as you can about the:
- Location of the company (make sure you know where you’re going, and how to get there)
Company – Finding out information about the company typically doesn’t take a huge amount of effort. Most job seekers can find plenty of good information by researching the company on the Internet, or at your local library. Another good area to find out about the ins and outs of a company is by tracking down friends/business acquaintances that may know information about the company.
If you’ve got a good understanding of what the company does, the services they provide, and/or products they sell, then you’ll be ahead of the pack when it comes to getting the job.
Location – Finding out where the company is located, or the interview location, is relatively easy if you have access to the Internet and visit a map website like Google maps or MapQuest.
As a rule of thumb, always be early to the interview. Arriving for your interview 15 or even 30 minutes early is much better than scrambling in late. Also remember to bring several copies of your resume. You may be talking to more than one interviewer and people appreciate having something tangible to look at when they are conducting an interview.
Interviewer – Finding out information about who is going to interview you may be a little harder to find out than general information on the company. When you search the company’s website you may be fortunate enough to find information about the individual on a webpage. If that doesn’t work, you might have to utilize some sneaky detective skills. Keep in mind that many professional people are members of social networking sites like LinkedIn, Google plus, and Facebook, and you can perform a search for them there. Also doing a simple Google search may be able to give you some information on the interviewer.
Make sure that when you go to the interview you are well-groomed and dressed well in order to make a good first impression. If the company has a lax dress code like business casual (or even more casual) make sure to wear something that’s one notch higher than what everyone else is wearing. A common rule of thumb is that it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Also when you’re dressed well you’ll tend to feel more confident for your interview.
One of the biggest keys to being good at interviews is to be polite and friendly. Shaking hands, saying thank you, smiling, and making eye contact, are some of the simplest and easiest ways to ace an interview. Also, make a conscious effort to remember people’s names throughout the entire interview process.
Another way to be prepared is to know what to expect as far as questions from the interviewer. Interviews, and especially the first interview, tend to digress into a big question and answer session. The interviewer will be asking you questions, and you’ll be giving answers. And then you’ll be asking questions and the interviewer will be giving you answers.
One of the little secrets that that savvy interviewers/ interviewees know is that when it comes to interview questions they’re all pretty much the same. So if you’re willing to do a little homework, and research some of the typical questions asked in an interview, and develop impressive answers, you’ll be exceptionally prepared.
Not only do you want to sit down and methodically come up with good answers, but you also want to practice delivering the answers – in front of a mirror or other people. When coming up with answers to possible questions make sure to always think in terms of the interviewer’s perspective.
Keep in mind that the more questions you’ve researched, and answers you’ve developed, the more prepared you will be.
There is a litany of possible interview questions (more than I can name here) that might be asked during the interview process. The good news is that if you have well-developed answers to a good deal of “categories of questions” it’s very likely that these well-developed answers can be used for several different questions.
Some of the core questions that are likely to be asked are:
- Describe yourself?
- Tell me a little about your last job?
- What are some areas that you liked about your last job? Didn’t like?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What are some of your biggest strengths?
- List some of your weaknesses?
- Why are you interested in this particular job opening?
- Tell me why you think you would be good at this particular job opening.
- Give me an example of when you utilized leadership skills.
- Tell me about a work problem that you had, and how you solved it.
- Tell me about some of the goals you have.
- Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years?
When you’re developing your answers make sure to try and utilize a quick story to illustrate your answer. Everyone likes a good story, it’s memorable, and if you’re a good storyteller you will captivate the interviewer.
A good rule of thumb is to go on as many interviews as possible. This is a great idea because with each passing interview you’ll get better and better at the interview process. With several interviews under your belt you’ll have solid experience for that big interview that you really want to nail. You can also do practice interviews with friends and family members. Have them come up with questions that they think would be tough to answer, and see how well they think you do at answering them.
Typically when an interviewer is done with his questioning, and near the end of the interview, he/she will say something like “Do you have any questions for me?” To appear as a knowledgeable and sharp candidate, you’ll want to ask the interviewer a few quality questions here. Keep in mind that if you get the feeling that the interview is at the final stages, too many questions might be aggravating for the interviewer – they probably need to get back to work.
Questions that you might want to ask include:
- What are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing your company?
- Give me an example of the typical day at XYZ company.
- What type of training and development do you offer for employees?
- What performance expectations do you have for your employees?
- When you see as some of the skills and qualifications needed for this position?
- How are employees evaluated and promoted at your company?
In conclusion, remember that the interview process is your opportunity to “sell yourself.” The trick is to not to come across as bragging about yourself but to weave your strengths and accomplishments into the stories that you tell and answers that you deliver.