In 2012, I hired someone for the first time. It was strange to be sitting “on the other side of the table” and asking questions instead of answering them. Since then, I’ve had more practice and also benefited from discussing hiring practices with my peers. What I can tell you is this: every interviewer is different. That said, there are some universal tips that will make you a job interview superstar.
1. Study the Company
Do your homework. At the very least you should know what the company does or makes, how long they have been in business, and whether there are any big events or milestones coming up. It’s best to read their mission and/or vision statements to get a sense of their values. Remember, you can bring notes in with you and refer to them in the interview. Example: “I see that it’s [Company’s] 40th anniversary next year. Are there any special events planned that this position would be involved in?”
2. Know Your Resume
You should know yourself better than anyone—and nothing an interviewer references from your resume should catch you off guard. Make sure you memorize the key points of your resume: where you worked, time spent there, and brief overview of what you did. NEVER put anything untrue in your resume—I can almost guarantee you will get caught!
3. Review the Job Description
Now is the time to go over the job description in great detail and match its responsibilities with your experience and strengths. You should bring attention to those matches when illustrating your past experience during the interview. Example: “In my role at [Company], I managed multiple projects at once in a hectic environment. I understand that is also a requirement of this position, and I am comfortable with those duties.”
4. Polish Your Soft Skills
Eye contact, confident body language, and communication skills are crucial in a job interview. Mastering these, along with other soft skills, will take you a long way.
5. Prepare for Behavioral Questions
Interviewers want to hear concrete examples of your experiences in tough situations. Being prepared with several scenarios that you have been through will show that you are no stranger to adversity. Even if you have an example where things turned out poorly, you can share this along with what you did the next time (or would do if it happened again). Learning from your mistakes is one of the most important skills that you can cultivate. Showing that ability is like holding a sign that says “I CARE.”
6. Build an Interview Kit
You’ve prepared for answering questions and talking about yourself. Now it’s time to put some consideration into the physical aspect of the interview. Make a kit with the following: portfolio with multiple copies of your resume, a notebook, and two pens; a bottle of water; mints or gum (spit it out before the interview!); and directions to the interview location.
7. Be Yourself
You don’t have to be an expert at interviewing to know when someone isn’t being genuine. Never try to be something you’re not just to get a position! This will only lead to frustration on both your part and that of your employer. Go into the interview with a smile on your face and try to be relaxed.
BONUS: Follow Up Quickly
I had a colleague who would automatically have a poor view of a candidate if they did not follow up with a thank you email within 24 hours. Not everyone feels this strongly, but it definitely can’t hurt anything to send a simple email later that day or the next morning. It should be simple and brief: “Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you and discuss this position. I am even more interested after hearing more details, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.” Throwing in a detail about something you discussed will show your attention to detail and will be appreciated by the interviewer!