How To Nail Your Job Interview
If you’re one of those people out there who has figured out how to nail your job interview, then you have likely figured out that it’s all about preparation, building rapport, and conveying your value. If you’re reading this article because you DON’T fit into that category, then it doesn’t sound so easy, does it?
Well, Recruiters and Hiring Managers are more and more judging consciously about your preparedness and how you present, opposed to doing any deep-dive into your answers, experience, or education, to actually assess you better.
While that may be a cynical way of summarizing it, that’s the system we’re living in and needing to work with in order to succeed.
I’ll always say:
it’s not the most experienced or even the best equipped for the job who will receive the offer, it’s the person who comes away seeming like the best equipped for the role.
With that said, here are some actionable tips that you can take to nail your job interview and make sure you come across gleaning like the successful and viable candidate you are!
Top-1o Actionable Tips To Nail Your Interview
Tip #1: Don’t Psyche Yourself Out!
It’s easier said than done, but don’t let your nerves get the best of you and prevent you from marketing yourself properly.
If you’re nervous, you’ll likely come off as lacking confidence (whether it’s true or not), you may not project your voice clearly, and may not answer to the best of your ability.
One method I employ is that I don’t put job interviews on a pedestal. I know, when you have the interview for your dream job, you get nervous like a first-date.
Don’t worry: there will be other great jobs you’ll interview for and if the interviewers are making you so uncomfortable that your nerves are kicking in, then that may be a great representation of an environment that you don’t want.
Another tip I suggest prior to walking into the interview is to take deep breaths and clear your mind.
When you’re nervous, that side of your brain takes over and the best way to regain control is through practiced breathing.
I mean, not so intensely that the Receptionist will take notice as start wondering if you’re okay, but a few series of deep breaths will help you.
Tip #2: Research the Company!
This should go without saying, but do some cursory research about the organization, the role/work-life, and some cool projects/initiatives that they may be working on to familiarize yourself.
Also, check www.Glassdoor.com for potential interview tips. If they are moderately well-known companies, there will usually be some interview questions that are left on their profile on GlassDoor.
It’s all user-submitted, so take as a grain of salt. But it’s helpful when you can pick up a few questions that seem to be consistent amongst the posters.
Plus, when you start seeing some consistencies in the questions being asked or submitted, it will give you a bit more direction to start developing your prep questions from.
Some companies may ask unique questions that would normally throw you off, so if you’re prepared either for a specific question or to expect a curveball or two, you won’t feel so put on the spot when asked.
Tip #3: Prepare Your Examples!
If you’re coming into an interview cold and feel like your sky-high confidence is going to take you to the promise-land, think again.
For the most part, interviews generally only have so much variance in the questions, aside from Executive roles and very technical industries.
That said, there will always be some consistency in questions you’ll see in interviews, so might as well spend some time working on your examples for the questions you know you’ll be asked.
It’ll be hard to get through a professional interview without being asked one or more of the following:
“Tell us about a time you had a conflict with a coworker and how did you resolve it?”, “Tell us about a time you disagreed with a decision from your boss”, or “Tell us about a project/event that you were proud of and how you worked it.”
These are called behavioral questions and are used to assess how you’ll react to certain situations involving your co-workers and your superiors.
It’s not going to fly if you say that you’ve never had a conflict or never disagreed with your boss. If you’re asked these questions, you will have to have something prepared!
The thing is, everyone takes the questions way too literally. When you hear “conflict with a coworker”, people assume it needs to be emotional and contentious, which trips them up because they resort to an event that had those two items.
What you should be looking for is a situation where you and a co-worker maybe disagreed on an approach and brought differing views to the table.
Discuss how you came to a resolution, and make sure you clearly and cohesively state your involvement. Remember, they aren’t asking how your coworker resolved the situation, they are asking how YOU resolved it.
For disagreeing with your boss, it’s a tricky one. You want an example that shows your confidence, why you felt necessary to take a stand on that issue, and what the resolution was.
It’s absolutely imperative that you don’t take any shots at your boss, the example doesn’t paint them in a negative like or portray a “he/she was wrong, I was right” situation.
The next tip dictates a great formula for answering behavioral questions when asked, so you can nail your job interview.
Tip #4: Use the S-T-A-R Method
You may be unfamiliar with the STAR Method but have likely used it in some form or variety during your previous interviews.
What it does is suggests that you break down your answers for behavioral questions like so:
Situation: provide context for the situation/event/problem.
Task: summarize the task/goal you were trying to accomplish.
Action: explain the action(s) you took to start accomplishing the task.
Result: explain the result of the action.
When you’re employing this method, you aren’t necessarily saying the words out loud, but rather using them as a guide to answering the question.
It’s a fairly common approach for behavioral-type questions and will do wonders for helping with your practice preparation and your answers during interviews.
Practice this method with the example questions in the previous tip to nail your job interview.
Tip #5: Research Your Interviewers!
Yes, to familiarize yourself with the interviewers, employees who could be or have been in your role, and your potential new coworkers.
You don’t need to consolidate their family history, but just a quick glance at their LinkedIn profiles can give you an idea of what sort of experience people in that role have.
Maybe there are commonalities (i.e. same alma mater, worked for the same company, member of the same organization, etc.), or an interesting talking point to connect with during the interview.
Remember, the idea isn’t to come into the interview knowing so much that you’re coming across as creepy.
You don’t want to cross any personal lines, but you want to come across as prepared, and someone who has done their due diligence about the organization they are hoping to work displays as quite professional.
Tip #6: Prepare Insightful Questions To Ask
One of the most awkward ways to end an interview is when you’re asked if you have any questions and you respond by saying that you don’t.
A. It makes you look disinterested.
B. You’re passing up a great opportunity to show intelligence and insightfulness. And;
C. You’re also passing up a great opportunity to do some fact-finding to verify that the job is what you’re looking for.
This is the closest chance you have to get a first-hand experience of the role, organization, and team, so use it wisely.
When we’re talking about insightful questions, it could be specific to the role, asking an opinion about where they’d like to see the successful candidate improve on, certain projections, or even how you will be evaluated.
If you absolutely NEED to discuss compensation at this point (i.e. it hasn’t been addressed and you would like to know before moving forward), make sure of 2 things:
1. It’s not the first question you ask. And;
2. You fuse it in with 3–4 insightful questions, so you don’t come across as only concerned about your pay.
Tip #7: Be An Evaluator.
Yes, I know it’s easier said than done when you’re in an interview for your dream job and you’re absolutely sure that it was made for you.
Still, just like in a first date, you’re evaluating the opposition as much as you’re being evaluated.
Sure, they have the hiring power and are the decisive factor in whether you receive an offer or not, but just because we receive a job offer, it doesn’t always mean it’s going to be a fit for you.
More-so, blindly allowing someone to evaluate you without feeling like it’s a two-way street is naturally going to put them on a pedestal.
Be confident in who you are, what you would bring to the role, and that if for some reason this opportunity doesn’t work out, there will be another great one soon enough.
You’re building a career here and blindly allowing yourself to feel inferior is not going to lead you to the promised land.
Again, this isn’t mean to say that you’re consciously evaluating everyone as much as they are of you. Just a reminder to yourself to be present during the interview and that it’s just as much of a choice for you as it is for them.
You want to make sure it’s a great fit and that involves more than just being offered a job.
Tip #8: Don’t Be Thrown Off
While I don’t agree with the approach, some interviewers play the game of trying to see how quickly (or, if at all) they can throw you off.
This can come in a variety of surprises in the form of: introducing “surprise” panel members, not telling you who you’re actually interviewing with, asking questions with the intent of getting you emotionally charged to see your reaction, and even in a rare circumstance I had a client who was asked to interview standing up.
In my opinion, these tactics are incredibly dumb and do absolutely nothing to serve in the proper evaluation of a candidate.
When I’ve interviewed candidates before, I value their time and use it wisely to assess whether they are a fit for the role and the organization.
When you’re faced with something that you deem as a tactic to throw you off, remain calm, answer it as best you can and move forward.
I wouldn’t necessarily write an employer off for this reason alone, but if you feel like in combination with other things that have gone wrong in the process, it’s okay to move on.
Tip #9: Don’t Take Anything Said To Be Too Literal
Recruiters, Hiring Managers, and Interviewers, in general, are notorious for poor estimates on when candidates can expect to hear back.
If you felt you had a successful interview, that’s great!
But until you’ve received a request for references, an offer, or a request for a 2nd/3rd interview, nothing concrete has happened yet.
On the flip-side of that, if you feel because you haven’t heard back by the date they mentioned, that it takes you out of contention, don’t.
Again, people in the position to hire often have MANY other things to juggle.
Aligning schedules of multiple busy people for another panel interview can take some time.
Employees go on vacation, take time off, or prioritize other projects.
So, if you haven’t heard back by the date they mentioned, don’t worry. You’re always in contention until you’ve been told otherwise or offered the job.
Tip #10: Don’t Ever Disqualify Yourself
I’ve had many clients that have expressed their lack of confidence prior to a job interview.
They feel that they may be under-qualified, lacking vital skill sets that were requested in the job description, or have some mental barriers preventing them from feeling like the best candidate.
Time and time again, I tell people that absolutely NO ONE is in the business of wasting their own time.
You were called into the interview because at least one person felt confident enough about your application, experience, and skills, that you could be a legitimate candidate for that role.
So, Prove them RIGHT.
Whether you’re lacking a couple of years of experience from what they requested, you only have 80% of the required skills/experience, or you feel like it’s a bit of a jump from where you are currently to this role, don’t ruminate over it.
Job descriptions are made to be wish lists of what the employer would LOVE to have, but rarely what they’ll end up taking.
If a candidate who fits all that comes by, they’ll warrant serious consideration, but if you’ve made it to the interview stages, it’s anyone’s job to win. 100%
Candidates who fit all the required experience can easily interview poorly, and a candidate who is lacking can easily interview well and come across as someone who is trainable, fits with the culture, and has a lot to offer.
Trust me, when Recruiters/Hiring Managers/Interviewers want a candidate, they will find a way to word it.
Nailing your job interview doesn’t have to be tough.
If you understand your value, come prepared with examples that represent it, and are able to convey this while building rapport with the interviewers, you’ll do fine.
You may not receive a job offer from every single interview, as there are factors way outside of your control that can limit this.
But you’ll leave each interview as one of the top applicants and feel the sense of accomplishment of winning your interview.
Remember, interviewing is a skill that needs practice.