How to Ace The Job Interview

by Janet Pinkerton | Jun 26, 2012
Your job interview is scheduled. Score! If you really want that job, you have to prep thoroughly to nail the interview. Here's how:

Before the Interview

Do Your Homework
You want to know everything you can about the job and the company before you the interview. Read and re-read the job description to fully understand what the company wants in an employee. Go online to get information about the company, its business goals, its latest news, and, if possible, about the person who is interviewing you. Read through the company’s recent press releases and any recent news reports about the company and its market.

Practice Your Pitch!
Develop your answers to the basic interview questions:
  • "Why should we hire you?"
  • "Why do you want this job?"
  • "What are your weaknesses?"
  • "What are your strengths?"
In those answers, give specific examples of your accomplishments that relate to the job. Rehearse your answers with someone else who can give you feedback, if possible. If all else fails, practice on the dog or the bathroom mirror.

Prep Your Own Questions
Be prepared when the interviewer asks, "Do you have any questions?" Use your research to ask some relevant, useful questions about the job and the company.

Clean Up Your Digital Image
Employers look for professionalism, so make sure your image online reflects that. Tighten up the privacy settings on your social media accounts. In a recent Reuters article, Pamela Eyring, president and director of The Protocol School of Washington, suggests that candidates "remove photos, links, and text that might be viewed as inappropriate from all social media web sites and the web sites of your friends."

Day of the Interview

Look Professional
It's time to clean up, get that haircut, and dress professionally. Check out the recent CompTIA blog "Always Dress to Impress" for tips.

Arrive Early
Planning to arrive "on time" is cutting it too close. Plan to be 10 minutes early.

Sit up Straight & Look 'Em in the Eye
Interviewers decide whether to let you join their team in part by carefully watching your body language, your confidence level, and your ability to speak with others. TEKsystems' Job Interview Career Search Tips advises, "During interviews, express yourself in a lively, confident manner and make eye contact with the hiring manager, even if you are nervous."

Listen & Be Concise
Even if you are nervous, make yourself carefully listen to your interviewer so you can hear:
  • What the company wants in an employee, and
  • The exact wording of any question you are asked.
Too often, candidates ramble, says Steve Fogarty, staffing partner at Waggener Edstrom, in his "Job Interview Tips" on "You really have to listen to the question, and answer the question, and answer it concisely," says Fogarty. "So many people can't get this basic thing down. You ask them a question, and they go off on a tangent."

Stay On Guard, Stay Professional
Fogarty places recruiters in two types: straight-laced and serious, and those who seem like your best friend. The straight-laced recruiters demand that job applicants take the process seriously. "Then you have recruiters like me," he says. "I'm going to be that candidate's best friend when they call me. My technique is to put them at ease, because I want them to tell me everything, and a lot of candidates mess up in this area." With either type, always remain professional, he advises.

Always Say Thank You - Fast
Immediately follow up the interview by sending the interviewer a thank you that reiterates your interest in the position. Eyring advises: "Go old-school. Send a handwritten thank-you note on quality paper within 24 hours of the interview. Research shows this simple gesture boosts hiring chances by 20 percent."

A Few Obvious Dont's

Don't Be Late
If you are late, call the interviewer as soon as you know you are going to be late as a courtesy.

Don't Ramble
If you find yourself rambling when answering a question, just stop. Breathe and refocus on your interviewer.

Don't Over-inflate or Lie About Your Qualifications
Be honest about what you know and don’t know. Interviewers will see through half-truths and lies. They will bite you back eventually.

Don't Complain
Don't speak negatively about anything: old jobs, old bosses, former co-workers, or former competitors. Stay positive. You are going to get the job!

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