5 key elements to a successful job interview
1. Do a self evaluation
Sometimes we can get caught up on what jobs are available and forget to ask ourselves what job we really want in order to advance our careers. Before you start your search, make a list of your career successes and also your areas of improvement. This is essential to your job search since it gives you a good idea of where you may fit best and may be a strong next career move. Be frank in your self criticism and showcasing your strengths. Once you have this figured out, you will be able to tell prospective employers how you can help them reach their company or department’s goals and objectives. It is imperative that you also formulate a list that includes items like your desired position based on your professional skills, desired compensation, benefits, work schedule, location, commute flexibility, and growth opportunities. Once you have a clear vision of your self assessment and your desired next career move, you will be able convey this information to potential employers with focus and ease.
2. Do your homework
Learning about the organization you are interviewing for is very beneficial for a variety of reasons. By “doing your homework”, you can first decide if the organization you are interviewing for would be the right fit for you. It also allows you to see what the organization offers to the consumer and its core mission. Learn as much as you can through any available medium (the organization’s website, social media, and external sources) so you can demonstrate a fair understanding of what the company offers and its culture. Having this knowledge will allow you to have a more in depth conversation with the person conducting the interview. Not only that, but it demonstrates that you take initiative to do research and are meticulous in examining your career prospects. In other words it shows them you mean business and you are ready!
3. Prepare for questions and develop some of your own
Knowing how to answer questions is crucial. Interviewers pay close attention to your delivery so be ready to answer questions in a clear and concise manner. Be sure to frame your answers in a way which showcases your strengths. If the interviewer asks you a question about a recent shortcoming or failure, be truthful and explain how you overcame the shortcoming. We all make mistakes, it is how we learn from them and overcome them that sets us apart from others. You will also be asked general questions that should be easily answered based on your self evaluation. Questions such as education, work history, suitability for the job, compensation history and desired salary are commonplace but should not be taken lightly so make sure you have clear answers for all of them. It is very important to be concise. When talking about a previous success, have specific examples to illustrate your point. If possible, have statistics or figures ready to further illustrate your successes. Once you have answered the interviewer’s questions, there will be time to ask your own.
Developing a strong and insightful list of questions about the organization you are applying for is very important. This should not be difficult since you “did your homework” and have a general understanding of the organization. Asking probing questions will enable you to gain a more in depth understanding of the organization and will allow for a more dynamic interview. Questions such as what type of people are a “good fit” for the organization, and what the company expects of their employees are crucial. After all, you are looking for your next career move so it is as important to ask questions as it is to answer them. As the interview process comes along, be ready to formulate other questions to keep yourself engaged.
4. Know your message and make a good impression
It is important to know exactly what you have to offer to an organization. With this in mind, pick some major strengths you want to showcase and make them your message. Allow the interview to flow with ease but always come back to your main strengths and how they will benefit the organization you are interviewing for. Be flexible with your answers but stay on task. Sell what you have to offer! The same can be said for weaknesses. Interviewers will ask you about you areas of improvement and weaknesses. When this comes up, be self-reflective in describing your areas of potential growth and frame them as opportunities not weaknesses. Be honest but do not undersell yourself. Remain confident and showcase your strengths.
Employers look for people that will best represent their organization and vision. This is why it is important to make a good first impression. It is very important to stay consistent of course after you make that first impression. The key here is to remain an exceptional candidate for any organization, not just the one you are interviewing for at this moment. Be on time for your interview. Being too early can be as problematic as being late. You should strive to be likable, energetic, and dynamic. Maintaing good eye contact and remain engaged. Make your interview a conversation. When asked questions, be specific with your answers and give examples to illustrate your point. People remember information better when it is clearly constructed and is relatable to the subject at hand. Be courteous and say thank you. Always thank the interviewer for his or her time and if possible send a follow up email or letter to show your appreciation. Overall stay positive. Expect to do well during the interview and you will!
5. Avoid common pitfalls and close the deal
It is easy to overlook some very common pitfalls along the interview process and then wonder why we were not chosen for the role. These little details may seem minimal but are actually big red flags for interviewers. Avoid chewing gum, looking at your watch, over sharing personal details, or blaming others for past issues you have encountered. Always frame your interview search as an opportunity for growth in the future.
As you come closer to sealing the deal, do ask questions about what the next steps will be. Clarify the job description, and the terms of employment. It is very important for both you and the interviewer to have a clear idea of what the job requirements and expectations are. Have an idea of what your desired salary should be and take into consideration factors like commute time, company culture, benefits and bonuses. Think of what your ideal salary should be but also keep in mind what the market is actually offering at the time. Be firm and clear with your expectations to avoid any misunderstandings. Following these simple steps will allow you to navigate through any interview with ease and confidence. Now go get them!