Whether it’s your first interview ever, or it’s been a few years since you went through the hiring process, you might need a quick refresher on how to ace your upcoming interview.
We’ve mapped everything you need to think about below so that you can turn this important career conversation into a job offer!
1. Understand The Purpose of The Interview
Your interviewer, be it a hiring manager, human resources screener, or recruiter, is evaluating your level of competency, your interest level in the position and the company, your professional and personal motives for applying, and your overall fit to the company culture, team, and role.
As an interviewee you should be looking to determine similar things. Your goal is to learn about the ins and outs of the role, the key players in the company, the company’s motives for hiring for the position, and lastly, you also want to understand how you would fit into the company as a whole before you think about accepting the position.
Understanding the interview type will also help you get clear on the meeting’s purpose. Is it a recruiter interview vs. a hiring manager interview? Will you be meeting virtually or in-person? Depending on the company, you might also be called for group or panel interviews.
Getting clear on the format of the interview will give you clues not only into how you’ll be evaluated, but also into which details you’ll be able learn during the session.
2. Set Yourself Up For Success
Be crystal clear about the time and the date of the interview, clarify the address and location of where you'll be interviewing, determine whether or not the interview will be in person or remote, ask for the names and positions of those you will be meeting with, and gather contact information just in case there are unforeseen circumstances on the day of — these are the basics behind setting your interview up for success.
Other considerations you’ll want to make include:
- Are you a morning or afternoon person? Will you have ample time to get ready?
- If you are employed, can you take time off of work?
- How long will the interview last? If it is an onsite interview, how much time will it take for you to get to the interview, park, etc. and then get back.
- What are the names and positions of the people with whom you will be meeting?
- If you are using Skype or a similar video conferencing application (Google Hangouts, WebEx, etc.), do you need a username from them to connect? Is there other login information required?
Accounting for logistical details is where you can exact the most control over your interview. You might not know which questions your interviewer will ask or what mood they’ll be in the day you meet, but by showing up on time and in the right place you’ve won half the battle.
(Want to think through your next interview with the help of an interview coach? Click here to learn more!).
3. Prepare, Prepare, Then Prepare Again
To start preparing, research the company and its key players. This will not only make you feel more confident in the interview, but it will also make you appear both competent and interested in the position.
Next, research common interview questions and make sure you are prepared to answer questions you may have struggled with in the past when interviewing. Some top questions include:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What is a weakness of yours?
- What do you know about our company?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why should we hire you?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- If past coworkers were to describe you, what would they say?
Likewise, you’ll want to prepare your follow up questions. At the end of any interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. The worst thing you can say is "No." Asking questions at the end of the interview is your last chance to demonstrate your interest and leave a lasting impression. The same goes for peppering in questions throughout your interview as the conversation allows.
Questions you can equip yourself with include:
- What are some challenges you foresee in this role?
- Is there any opportunity for professional development or training within the organization?
- Is this a brand new role or a previously existing position that is being filled?
- Where is the last person who held this job moving on to?
- Why did you choose to work for this company?
- What’s different about working here than anywhere else you’ve worked?
4. Follow Up Like a Pro
After your interview, it is always wise to send a thank you note. Thank you notes are an essential part of your professional tool kit and beneficial for a variety of reasons. It leaves a lasting impression on your interviewer when you follow up and acknowledge your appreciation for their time. Additionally, it is a great way to summarize or reiterate some of the qualifications you discussed in the interview. Lastly, it is an opportunity for you to mention anything you forgot to address in the interview, or to remedy a question you wish you had answered differently.
Although there is nothing wrong with sending a physical letter in the mail, in our modern day and age, an email is the appropriate, common, and convenient route. If you are sending a physical note, be sure to format the letter using the same heading as your resume and cover letter, with your name and information. A thank you note should always be sent within 24 hours of the interview taking place.
You note made read something like this:
“Dear Ms. Johnson,
I sincerely enjoyed meeting you yesterday and learning more about the Customer Success Coordinator position at xxxxxxx.
Our conversation confirmed my interest in becoming part of the team at xxxxxxx. I was particularly impressed by the prospect of being able to utilize my multimedia skills.
I did have one follow up question: How often would the person in this position be collaborating with the Sales Director?
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Interviews are no small affair, and while landing your dream career can change everything, it’s also crucial to remember that you’ve already made a huge achievement: You beat out hundreds of applicants to get to this stage of the process. So, set yourself at ease, do your homework and prepare, and you’ll be ready to ace your next interview.