How to do better at a job interview?

Onwards with my series on career. Let’s take a look at job interviews. From start to finish, job interviews are performances. They can be memorable for all the right reasons (perfect dialogue, amazing timing, a charismatic lead) or all the wrong ones (unconvincing speeches, awkward pauses, a lack of passion). Putting on a forgettable play or job performance is almost as bad as putting on an awful one—because if the hiring manager or audience doesn’t remember you, what’s the point? Here’s my take.

  1. Be especially kind and respectful to everyone you interact with during the interview process.

Whether this is the administrative assistant helping you schedule the interview or the receptionist who greets you at the office, treat everyone you come into contact with as if they’re going to be the ones interviewing you. Every impression in an interview process matters.

2. Dress well

Yes, of course, you need to heed industry dress code standards, but that doesn’t mean you can’t let your personality shine through. Use your outfit as a visual cue to show that you’re not like the rest of ‘em. Consider a bold color or a special accessory that has a fun story behind it which will give your conversation fodder. Better to overdress than be underdressed.

3. Arrive early enough to compose yourself before your interview starts.

Cool, calm, and collected is how you want to look when your interviewer comes to greet you. It takes everyone a moment to get relaxed after a commute, and when you add nerves and a new location on top of that, you’ll probably feel a little extra flustered. Take this into account so you can make sure you get to your interview with enough time to get clear-headed and confident.

4. Ace the “Tell me about yourself” question.

This will be one of the first questions you receive, and it’s a stellar opportunity to set the bar really high. Many people struggle with this expansive question, but if you can craft a narrative that speaks to your strengths, experiences, and interest in the job, you will be five steps ahead of the competition.

5. Research your interviewers.

Know everything you can about your interviewers. Read everything you can about them on the company website and social media. Try to get a sense of what’s important to them and see if you find any commonalities or mutual interests. I can emphasize enough the importance of being prepared.

6. Connect on a commonality, briefly.

Connecting on something in common is a great way for your interviewer to remember who you are. If you find a shared interest in documentary films, or maybe a love for a preferred app, take the time to make this connection clear. Just be aware of when it’s time to move on.

7. Answer questions with examples.

Instead of saying how you’d bring improvements and ideas to the team and company, show how you’d do it. Sketch out an idea of how you’d approach solving a problem. It’s not only an unexpected way to display your skills, but it shows your ability to think on the spot. People remember stories better than facts, and using examples is one of the best way to craft a story that will resonate with people.

8. Incorporate the company’s values in your answers.

Show you understand the company values (which you researched on Glassdoor, of course) by speaking directly to how you’d approach a particular problems or situations through the lens of those particular values. Does the company value transparency? Tell them how you’d prioritize a transparent approach. This is really for bonus points.

9. Ask unexpected questions.

A huge component to a successful interview lies in the question you chose to ask your interviewer. Think of some questions that extend beyond the superficial aspects of the job or company. Ask questions that show you’ve done extensive research on the company. Ask about specific projects or goals.

10. Send a thoughtful thank you note post interview.

This is important. You got a chance to end with a bang so make that note special. Sincerity is important.

Good luck!

Check out my related post: Do you have the long view?

Interesting reads


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