You have spent time searching for the right job, and now you have been asked to come in for an interview. Are you prepared? Here are some top interview tips to help set your interview up for success.
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1. Study. Study. Study. Learning as much as you can about the company that you are interviewing with will be key to a successful interview. Here are some ways that you can learn more about the company:
- Visit their website. Learn as much as you can about the company before you go into your interview. Company websites are a good way to do this. Find out about their mission, vision, products/services, and about their company history.
- Use LinkedIn and Social Media. LinkedIn helps you to find information on a company that you are interested in at a glance. LinkedIn will help you to see any connections you have to people within that company, as well as looking at interesting statistics about the company. Be sure to look at your interviewer’s LinkedIn profile to get insight into them, their role, and their background.
- Search the Internet. Many companies have been in the news for things they have done. Get the latest information by scrubbing the internet for any stories where the company name was mentioned.
- Use your networks. Ask people you know if they know anything about the company or if they might know anyone who works there. Search through any alumni networks you might have to see if there is anyone who went to your college or university who works there. Reach out to people and have your network help get you information about the company.
[Get some tips from Brendan Browne, LinkedIn’s head of global talent acquisition, on how to enhance your profile.]
2. Know your Strengths. Bringing your best self to the interview will be critical for helping you to stand out from the crowd. Knowing your talents and strengths, help to set you apart from others. Be clear on what your strengths are. Use the Five Clues to Strengths to help you identify your strengths and be able to verbalize them to others. The Five Clues to Strengths are as follows:
- Yearning: To what kinds of activities are you naturally drawn?
- Rapid Learning: What kinds of activities do you seem to pick up quickly?
- Flow: In what activities do you seem to automatically know the steps to be taken?
- Glimpses of Excellence: During what activities have you had moments or subconscious excellence when you thought, “How did I do that?”
- Satisfaction: What activities give you a kick, either while doing them or immediately after finishing them, and you think, “When can I do that again?”
3. Write it Down. Knowledge is power. Research shows that writing things down helps us to remember. As you conduct your research on the company you are interviewing with, be sure to take good notes on what you are finding. Once you have all of your notes written down, sort and analyze your notes to find any themes or insights that you can see. Use these themes and insights to inform the questions that you ask in the interview. Bring all of your notes to the interview in case you need to refer to any of them during your interview. Use your notes as a study guide to prepare you for your interview session.
4. Be Clear on the Role. Knowing the responsibilities of the job you are interviewing for will help you tailor an approach that is based off of your strengths that you bring to the role. Study the job description. Underline key words and phrases in the job description that you feel would be important to the success of that role. For each of the key words or phrases that you have underlined in the job description, match this to your strengths. Make a direct link between those things that you are great at doing with the specifics of the job description. Be clear to articulate how your strengths can attribute to your success in a role.
5. Be positive. You might be familiar with the old adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.” In an interview, you will have to talk about your past jobs, past experiences and maybe even your past bosses. But remember, interviewers are keen on listening closely to how you talk about your past experiences. Even if your last job wasn’t the most perfect situation for you, try to deem the positives around what was great from working there. Be careful not to disparage your last boss, or your last job, or your last company. Focus on what you brought to the role and how you were able to use your strengths in everything that you did in that role.
6. Asking and Answering Questions. By design, an interview is set up to ask questions of you, and to evaluate the responses that you give to figure out whether you would be a good fit for the role, the team, and/or the organization.
- Answering Questions: In most interviewers, questions will be asked of you. You must be prepared to answer the questions with clear and concise answers that will highlight your experience, talents, strengths, and abilities. Practice by thinking up some questions that the interviewer might ask of you. Use the job description and notes that you have taken on the company as a guide to your answers. Use words and phrases that you find in the job description to describe your past experience. Be specific with your answers and avoid making generalizations. Using specific examples will do a great job in highlighting what you have done in the past and how you have handled situations. For an interviewer, they can learn a lot by looking at what you have done in the past.
- Asking Questions: At the end of interviews, many candidates get stumped without knowing how to respond when asked “Do you have any questions?” Prepare for this by gathering your questions ahead of time. Use your research that you have conducted to formulate questions. Prepare your questions ahead of time and have them written on a sheet of paper. When asked if you have any questions, pull out this list of questions to refer to. Having questions prepared shows that you have put in time and due diligence to think about this job opportunity and it shows the interviewer that you care. Leave questions like, “when will I hear back from you?” or “when are you making your final decision?” to the very end. Although these are important questions, you don’t want to lead with them when asked if you have any questions. Asking smart questions will help to set you apart from the rest of the applicants.
[Make your own story work for you: Land a Job Using the Storyteller’s Tool Kit.]
7. Follow Up. After the interview is over, it is important that you follow up by thanking the interviewer for their time and consideration in meeting with you. The Thank You note is one way to leave a really good impression. If you have time, sending a handwritten thank you note can be worth the effort. However, if a decision is being made sooner, you can use technology, such as email, to send your thank you note. Your thank you note should be one additional means for you to sell yourself and why you would be such a great fit for the role. You can also use your thank you letter to discuss anything that you might not have had an opportunity to connect on during the interview.
What is the key to your interviewing success?