10 Steps to Acing Your Next Job Interview
You trained, you certified, and now you’ve got the job interview. Kate Kirschner, regional career services manager at CompTIA Tech Career Academy, offers these 10 tips to make sure you ace the interview.
1. Leave yourself plenty of time to reach your interview.
Aim to arrive at your interview location a minimum of 30 minutes in advance. You may need to find parking, secure a parking pass, locate where the hiring manager is interviewing you, or formally check in and secure a visitor’s pass. All of that takes time.
You also want to take one last look in a restroom mirror and prep by reviewing some final notes. And who knows what unforeseen issues can arise like unexpected traffic or car trouble? If you arrive at an interview too early, that’s OK – early is better than late. Just sit in your car and allow some time to pass before you head inside.
A Good Interview Starts Before the Handshake
Kirschner recommends job candidates prepare for the interview conversation well before they walk in the door.
2. Research the company. Go to the company’s website, LinkedIn page, and other workplace-related websites to learn about the company’s culture.
Hiring managers aren’t just looking for someone capable of performing the work — they’re also looking for people who will mesh well into the company’s culture. And the truth is, you’ll feel better working in a culture you’re comfortable with, too. Learn what you can about the working environment of your potential employer, including talking to people who work there already.
Hiring managers also want to know how interested candidates are in their organization so learning information in advance shows initiative and engagement on your part.
“Doing this research also may spark some great questions to ask during the interview,” Kirschner said. “Keep in mind that review sites like Glassdoor are a good, quick way to obtain a snapshot of the organization — but take the information with a grain of salt. Disgruntled employees are more likely to complain, and reviews may not reflect the current state of the organization or the location you are considering.”
3. Research the job description.
Make sure you understand what the job demands, and pay close attention to the words chosen for the job posting. If the employer is looking for someone who is a “problem solver” or “works well independently,” be prepared to cite examples of how you fit that description.
“If any software or skills listed in the job posting aren’t familiar to you, Google those terms to get an idea of what they are and how they are used,” Kirschner said. “You might have experience with a similar software or skill to highlight in the interview. Also, jot down any questions you have about the job description to clarify with the hiring manager.”
4. Research the hiring manager.
Make sure you ask for the hiring manager’s full name and if any other employees will be part of the interview. Then go to LinkedIn and learn what you can about the hiring manager(s) so you know exactly to whom you are speaking. There may be some common personal connections — or she may have worked in a capacity you know something about. If your contact doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile, Google them.
Practice Saying What You Want to Say — Before You Say It
If it helps, Kirschner said, think of your interview as an audition — one where the hiring manager is deciding whether you’re the right person for the role. There will be other actors vying for the same spot, so you want to stand out by showing engagement and commitment.
5. Practice responding to interview questions. Out loud. Even if you’re alone.
Yes, it can feel silly, but asking yourself interview questions — Google it, there are tons out there — and responding aloud can help you feel more confident. You want to provide clear, concise responses — without rambling.
“It is also important to be natural, not rehearsed, so focus on getting the point across without focusing on using the exact wording each time,” Kirschner said.
6. Practice asking questions. Out loud. Even if you’re alone.
Go to your interview with a short list of questions that reflect your interest in the position and will help you learn more about the company. Write those questions down so that you won’t forget them if you’re nervous.
Here’s one, for example: “If I am to succeed here, what achievements or milestones would you expect to see during my first 90 days on the job?”
“Another great question is, ‘What do you enjoy most about working at this organization?’” Kirschner said. “This allows the hiring manager to give you some insight on what she values and how well the organization fits with her values.”
Dress and Act the Part You Want
7. Dress appropriately.
And “appropriate” depends on the culture. If it’s a utility company managed by former military officers, you should probably wear buttoned-down business attire complete with shined, closed-toed leather shoes. If it’s a tech start-up that touts bringing your dog to work as a benefit, casual slacks likely are fine.
“If you are doing research on the company, you should be able to get an idea — but when in doubt, dress up,” Kirschner said. “There’s also no shame in asking what the dress code is.”
8. Show up on time and hit your mark.
The night before your interview, get plenty of rest. Eat a good breakfast. Arrive for your interview early. Be clean, well-groomed and appropriately attired. Turn off your cell phone. Be respectful to the person working the reception desk. Sit up straight. Make good eye contact. Show energy and enthusiasm. Bring copies of your resume, as well as a notepad and pen with your list of questions. And if you’re conducting a phone interview, isolate yourself someplace quiet where there’s good phone reception and you won’t be distracted.
Be Prepared to Advocate for Yourself — But Be Authentic
9. Articulate why you’re the right hire for the job.
Look back on the totality of your work experience and be prepared to share examples of your best employee moments. Be sure to highlight the talents and skills you bring to the position.
“Employers want to hear what you can bring to the role — not what you’re looking for in the role,” she said.
10. Ask how best to follow up.
At the end of the interview, tell the hiring manager that you’d really like the job, and you’d like to follow up. Ask what are the company’s next steps and how might you keep in touch. Then be sure to send an email or mailed card — choose one, based on what you know about the company and hiring manager — to thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the position.
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