Congrats on landing the interview! You’re probably feeling a good mixture of excitement and anxiety. One good way to alleviate the nervousness is to be well prepared.
At its core, interviewing centers around an employer using this process to hire the best possible candidate. Hopefully, that’s you. Approach the interview like a consultant. Clearly demonstrate through past work experience how you can solve the company’s challenges and demands. But at the same time, assess for yourself whether this position is a good fit for you too.
Here are six key strategies to help you excel during an interview.
know your strengths … and weaknesses
Jobs are like people. They’re both unique and have their own special characteristics. As part of your interview preparation, take stock of your strengths, weaknesses and skills. Identify how they align with the organization. Highlight specific skill sets that are mentioned in the job description and cite examples of how you best performed those skills. Have good answers for any job requirements that you don’t meet. Be honest. If you don’t know how to use certain programs or machinery, be proactive and say you’ve already begun learning and if hired, you’ll be ready to go.
become an expert
You must research everything. You need to learn all you can about the job, department, company and the field. Pull the latest annual reports and read as much as possible on industry websites. Talk to people. Conduct your own mini interviews with friends in similar positions. Better yet, talk to current or former employees of the company. Armed with this information, you will feel more comfortable and excited as your interview day gets closer.
practice makes perfect
Have a friend pretend to be the hiring manager and conduct some mock interviews. Treat it like a dress rehearsal complete with your professional attire. Set up a camera and record it. Go through a list of common interview questions and answers; have your friend throw in a few surprise questions as well. This will help you practice thinking spontaneously. Watch the recording and make any adjustments to make you look and sound your best.
dress for success
You want to look like you belong there when you walk in for the interview. Dress a little more formally than what the standard is at that company. For instance, if during your research you found that employees tend to wear jeans and a polo shirt, come to your interview wearing a suit and tie. Bring a binder with a pen, paper, copies of your resume and references. Also, make sure to arrive five to 10 minutes before your interview is scheduled to begin. You don’t want to show up too early and catch your hiring manager in the middle of something. Or worse, sprinting into the interview 10 minutes late grumbling about traffic. During the interview, have good posture, relevant hand gestures and good eye contact. If you look and act confident, you’ll be confident.
ask smart questions, listen smarter
This is your chance to find out everything you can about the position. Approach it like a reporter or detective. Ask leading questions that will provide insight into what the job is really like on a daily basis. Craft some questions beyond what you found out from your research. You want the interviewer to know you did your homework. Whatever you do, don’t ask about the salary, benefits and vacation time. The hiring manager will most likely cover it during the interview. And if not, that can be handled at a later date.
before you wrap
Ask if they have any concerns with your experience and provide solutions to alleviate those issues. If you think you could see yourself working there, state that. “I’ve really enjoyed learning about this position and would like to be considered for the job. What’s the next step in the process?” As you’re getting ready to leave, shake hands and ask for a business card.
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