An interview starts long before you walk through the door and shake hands with your potential employer. To truly succeed and be considered for a position, you must research both the company and the position you’ve applied for beforehand, so you can be prepared to share relevant experience and innovative ideas. Below we share interview tips and career advice that can help you land your next job.
Beyond the job description
It’s the bare minimum to go into an interview knowing the responsibilities you’ll perform on the job. Go one step further and make a list of specific projects you would excel at and ways you could help the company reach its goals. Ask a professional in a similar position what their daily responsibilities are, and ask what skills would impress their supervisor.
Research the company
Reading the web site is a good beginning, but you should also have a broader understanding of the company’s role in the industry by reading trade journals. Know a company’s biggest competitors, what their current initiatives are, any new products or business developments, and have a good understanding of how the position you are interviewing for plays into it. Be able to speak the industry jargon.
Practice makes perfect
Role-play with a friend or practice in front of a mirror answers to common interview questions, from “What is your biggest weakness?” to “Why are you the best candidate for this position?” Remember that at the heart of each question, an interviewer is really asking, “why should I hire you.” Make a list of your most impressive qualifications, and practice talking about them out loud as fuel for impressive answers.
Once you finally have some face-time with an employer, it’s essential to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job. Make the most out of the opportunity by touting your accomplishments and helping the interviewer picture you in the position.
Make small talk
The first few moments of an interview are key for making a great first impression, and for relating to your interviewer on a more personal level. Make a comment on a photo or decoration they have in their office, or mention a great article you read in the newspaper that morning. This will ease into the interview process, and shows that you have grace under fire.
Share your personal success story
Have several scenarios and anecdotes ready to share about your accomplishments in the past. For example, instead of just saying, “I was responsible for researching new sales contacts,” focus on the results of your efforts: “In my position as an account executive, I increased our database of new client contacts by 30 percent through thorough online research and taking the initiative to make follow up calls to verify names, titles and email addresses. I have vast experience using resources such as Hoovers, Vault, Standard & Poors, and NACE, and this would help me succeed in a position at XYZ.”
Put a positive spin on it
If there are one or two aspects of the position you are applying to that you don’t have experience in, it’s up to you to explain to your interviewer how you will compensate. Offer to put in a few unpaid overtime hours to learn a computer system, or sign up for a class to glean the necessary email marketing skills.
You should be able to share with your interviewer at least one innovative idea that you could bring to the position. If you’re interviewing for news reporting position, have a few good ideas of stories you’d love to tackle. For a branch management position, explain a management idea you have to potentially motive employees and increase retention rates.
Pull your own weight
It’s just as important to ask intelligent questions in an interview as it is to answer them. Ask what the most unique aspects of the position are, what the company culture is like, whether there is room for growth, and what skills you need most to excel in the position. Ask about the hiring process, what the next steps will be, and how soon they expect to make a decision. You should leave with a very clear understanding of what the position would be like on a daily basis, and how well you would fit in the company.
Interviews are an exciting achievement in the job search process, and you should give yourself a pat on the back for landing one. These tips will go a long way in turning an interview into an offer. One last word of advice: send a thank-you note within 24 hours of your meeting and reiterate your interest in the position!