6 New Rules for Acing Your Job Interview
You have 30 to 60 minutes to win over strangers. Here's the perfect job interview roadmap.
Preparing for interviews can be incredibly daunting, but getting the job you want can be a genuinely life-changing experience. Most of the time, you have less than an hour to convince people who don't know you that you are the best fit for the job.
According to LinkedIn, the majority of job seekers say the interview phase is "moderately to extremely challenging" for two reasons: uncertainty and lack of confidence. Being well prepared will ensure that you’re polished and confident, maximizing your chances of landing your dream job. Here are six tips to prepare for your next job interview.
Related: Job Interview Preparation Checklist
1. Plan your answers.
Many job interviewers will ask the same or similar questions. Tell me about a time where your problem-solving skills were on display. Describe a time where you encountered interpersonal conflict in the workplace. You've heard them before. As an applicant, you can prepare answers for these standard questions well in advance by drawing from your past experiences. Take a stroll down memory lane, and come up with examples of when you demonstrated desirable workplace behaviors.
There’s plenty of online resources that list standard job interview questions, and these resources can educate you on how to approach your answers. For example, LinkedIn is launching a new tool where professional recruiters will walk people through what a strong response to any given question should look like. Technology won't write your answer for you, but it will help you understand what's really being asked and how to structure your response.
2. Do a dry run.
Practicing your answers out loud, in front of a person or recorded on video is a must. Ask a colleague or friend who’s been on the other side of the interview table -- whether an HR manager or otherwise -- to let you practice your answers in front of them. The honest feedback you will receive will be invaluable. Oftentimes, the people you practice in front of will point out deficiencies in areas you wouldn't notice on your own. Examples include:
- Did you sound too rehearsed?
- Can you restructure the information to strengthen the answer?
- Are you adding irrelevant details that detract from your point?
Try video interviews with these friends and colleagues as well. Videos and in-person job interviews are fundamentally similar, and video can be more or less stressful depending on the context and personal preference. Videos are becoming increasingly common as a recruiting tool so all applicants must be ready for them.
3. Research the company prior to your job interview.
Just like the internet holds a wealth of information relating to standard interview questions, it also has information on company-specific hiring processes. Job applicants should conduct a thorough review of all information available to them to get an understanding of the company and how it recruits. For larger companies, there are often articles and infographics explaining their hiring practices, as well as Glassdoor reviews, comments on internet forums such as Reddit, and even the company website. Think of this information as a cheat sheet to understand the organization's interview process and values. Be sure to incorporate this information into your interview answers.
4. Getting some R&R.
Regardless of your prep and research, your interview performance will be dependant on how you are feeling that day. Going in relaxed and refreshed is the best thing you can do. You know yourself best, so use your personal relaxation strategies to clear your mind for the hour before your job interview. Whether it’s sitting in a café with tea, meditating or even stretching.
Sleep is an essential factor in your day-to-day performance, and it impacts job interviews just as much. If you'haven't had enough sleep, your memory, problem-solving skills and judgment might be compromised.
5. Strike a power pose.
If you’ve followed steps 1-4, confidence may be the last thing holding you back from acing the interview. Harvard Psychologist Amy Cuddy teaches that changing your body language can make you more confident. Poses like the Wonder Women or The Performer are two great ways to help you feel empowered when you enter the interview room. Before your meeting, find a private spot like a restroom stall, stairwell or elevator and strike a power pose for two full minutes to maximize the benefits.
6. Prepare strong follow-up questions.
At the end of every interview, you may be asked if you have any follow-up questions. To wow your interviewer, avoid compensation-related themes and prepare two or three questions that focus on the position and how it fits into the organizational strategy. This will give the interviewer the impression that you're interested in learning about how you can contribute. These types of questions can include:
- What will the first 90 days on the job look like for the successful candidate?
- What are some of the longer-term objectives of the team that this role is a part of?
By following these steps to prepare for your interview, you will be able to be a polished, clear-headed, confident candidate. You’ll be able to put your knowledge on display without worry and maximize your chance of getting the position you want.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer
Entrepreneur, author, CEO and founder of Inspired HR. Debby was recently honoured for a 4th consecutive year as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women marking Debby's induction into Canada’s Top 100 Hall of Fame as the youngest inductee in history.