Three Tips to Help You Nail Your Job Interview

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In the current climate, just getting a job interview can be a difficult task. Official government figures indicate that the unemployment rate is dropping, but that doesn’t include people who are underemployed — and it doesn’t include those whose benefits have run out. Some argue that the “real” unemployment rate is much higher than the official 8.9% figure seen in February.

When you consider how many people might be competing for the same position, it becomes extra important to nail that interview. You will need to show that you are a problem solver, and that you are prepared to come in and work hard for the company. How you do this in the interview can mean the difference between getting hired and looking for yet another company to interview with.

Know the Employer

You should know the employer. You should understand what the company does, and how the company compares to other organizations in its field. If you can, find out the names and titles of the interviewers you will be seeing. Then, do some research on them so that you have an idea of their style and positions.

You can find information on the company, and key personnel by checking the company web site, and by looking at LinkedIn profiles. It is also possible to learn more about the latest company news and the challenges facing the company by going through news stories and press releases. Understand the job requirements of the position for which you are applying, and then find out what issues, problems and responsibilities you might face. Think about how you would overcome them.

Illustrate Your Skills with Relevant Stories

Practice telling brief, but illustrative, stories about your accomplishments in the past. These stories should highlight the skills that are relevant to the position, and show how you overcame a problem, or how you provided value for a client. You don’t want to go into long detail, so think of two or three interesting stories from your career that could help you make a point, and use them when appropriate.

Also, be sure to listen to the interviewer. If you have an interviewer that wants to talk about his or her hobby, or is describing a position, or telling his or her own story, listen. You can take notes as well. This is appropriate during interviews, as long as you look professional, and your notes are professional (you never know when someone will see them). A portfolio with a pad inside can be a great tool.

Be Ready with Questions

Your interview isn’t just about answering questions that a potential employer has for you; you should also ask questions. You can ask questions that show your knowledge of a situation, such as “How are you handling…?”, or ask a question about the position: “What is a typical day like for someone in this position?”

Try to come up with a few questions that can be used at relevant points during the interview, and make sure you save at least one or two for the end. When an interviewer asks if you have questions, that is your cue to ask a good question. “How much does this job pay?” does not count as a good question. You can ask why the position exists, or what caused the opening at this time. Or you can ask a question about the hiring process or what the interviewer likes best about working at the company.

Thorough preparation is important these days. If you want to make a good impression, you have to be ready ahead of time. Do you have any other tips for nailing a job interview?

{ 9 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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9 Responses to “Three Tips to Help You Nail Your Job Interview”

  1. I have an interview on Thursday. I know the company fairly well as I’ve worked with a branch before, but I learned more about this particular office and what they were looking for goals wise.

  2. billsnider says:

    I have read a lot of resumes and interviewd a lot of people when I was working.

    A few thoughts.

    Read and double read and triple read what you submit. I hated obvious gramatical and spelling errors. DON’T TRUST SPELL CHECK. I passed some really stupid stuff around to my coworkers. Get someone else to read it.

    Spare me the obvious stuff. I know how much english classes you took in high school. Tell me something significant.

    Also know something about me and the job. I use to ask whether they wanted the job. After an entusiastic yes, I asked them to descibe the job. I got blank stares. They didn’t have a clue.

    Try to outhink me. Why would I choose you over someone else? Tell me what you bring to the party.

    Hope this helps.

    Good luck.

    Bill Snider

  3. Jaren says:

    Completely agree with the grammatical and formatting mistakes, Bill. Treat your resume and cover letter like it’s the first assignment for this company. Make sure bullets align, find consistency with formatting, and make it aesthetically pleasing.

    But most importantly, bring the confidence, not cockiness, that you can succeed in the position. I completely agree with Miranda about being prepared with short stories that show something about who are you and what you’re capable of.

    Relax, try be yourself and trust you have what it takes (easier said than done, I know). And smile, it’s gonna be OK.


  4. zapeta says:

    These are all great tips. It’s really important to do your research about the company before an interview or even before you write your cover letter. I gather as much information as I can before I write the cover letter. This can set you apart when you already understand something about the philosophy of the company and how you will fit in and help the company meet their goals. I also find that reading the letter out loud can help pick up some of the grammar mistakes that a spell check won’t catch but getting someone else to read it is probably best.

  5. Strebkr says:

    I have to agree with all comments above. Doing your research so you can talk about the company and what they do always helps. You can always tell who has at least done a quick Google search vs doing nothing at all. If it is a big company, pull up their annual report to see what they are up to.

  6. scdavid says:

    The short story tip is great. 4 or 5 good stories can cover you from many surprise questions.

  7. qixx says:

    The key point in this article seems to have been over looked. It the first thing in the second point. PRACTICE. Practice, practice, practice.

    I always feel silly the first time of two i practice so make sure you practice enough to get past that.

  8. Ruth says:

    I believe a point is being missed. We not only research the Company so that we can have a GREAT presence and act intelligent, it is so that we can see if we even would want to work for this company. Do our values and theirs align or are we really only looking for a paycheck.

  9. Malhar Bahai says:

    Very well written post for new graduates and would certainly help them. I would like to add here that one should never try to add any fake information in their resumes as it can hurt their relationships with their prospective employer.

    Good job Miranda.

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