Congratulations! Your resume has been moved on to the next step in the hiring process. Now it’s time to prepare properly so that you can nail the interview.
There are two ways to look at interviews. On one hand, you can let them scare the shit out of you. This happens when you get so worked up about saying the right thing, being in the right place at the right time, and looking perfect that it’s all you can think about in the days leading up to the interview. Self-doubt rears its ugly head, and suddenly you think, “Why did I apply for this job? Why am I putting myself through this? I’m probably not going to get it. I want my mommy!” I know for some people that it’s hard to avoid reacting this way, but try your best not to psych yourself OUT of getting the job before you even walk through the door. It’s not constructive. It’s destructive and there is a much better way to approach your next interview.
Which brings me to the other hand.
Turn your interview into a challenge. If you have any sort of competitive bone in your body, you can turn your next interview into a “me versus them” competition to psych yourself IN to getting the job. Some people call this the law of attraction. Some call it visualization. I call it, “You’re not getting this job, I am!”
The interview is mostly personality test to prove that you’re a good fit for the team and that you didn’t lie on your resume. And while you can’t control what the interviewer does or says, you can prepare yourself to be ready to field any question that comes your way.
Here are the top 6 interview prep steps you should take to nail the interview.
1. Do your research
The first part of doing your research is to learn the job description inside and out. You should know it so well that if a friend asked you what job you applied for, you could recite the description back to her. The second part is to research the company and know more about what they’re doing and where they’re going than anyone else. The more you understand about the company, the better you can tailor your answers to meet the hiring manager’s needs. Things to read include: the company’s website, press releases, social media feeds, and news articles. Really get stalkerish with this one, it will only help.
2. Know what you have to offer the company
This is your opportunity to show the hiring manager that you’re the perfect person for the job because everything you’ve done up to this point has prepared you for this position. They’ve posted the position because they have a problem to solve, so it’s your job to get them to see you as their problem solver. Highlight each part of the job description that you have experience doing, improving, creating, or managing and make sure to weave those career highlights into your answers. You should have a simple, results-based story to tell for each responsibility they’ve included in the description. Your story doesn’t have to match perfectly, but it does have to be in the ballpark.
3. Rehearse your answers
They’re going to ask you to tell them a little bit about yourself. They’re going to ask you about your experience. They’re going to ask you why you want to work for that company, and they’re going to ask you why you want to leave your current job. Have an answer for each of these. It doesn’t have to be long, just be positive and truthful. Practice your responses as much as possible with anyone who will listen and give feedback prior to your interview.
4. Practice being likable
We’ve talked about improving your likability at work, and that concept also applies to the interview process. Research suggests that the person who does the most talking during the interview thinks that the interview went the best. Therefore, you should speak less and listen more. The best way to do that is to practice stopping your thoughts when they’re complete, and learn to embrace the silent pause that follows. Most of us drone on when we’re nervous or put on the spot. Try not to add more words than necessary when you answer your questions. Simply end your sentences confidently and smile to signal that you’re finished.
5. Prepare questions
Halfway through the interview or so, they’re going to turn the conversation over to you. This is your chance to ask questions about the position. Prepare these ahead of time by writing a list of 15 questions, and then bring your top 5 with you to the interview. This exercise works because the more you force yourself to think of questions, the deeper you dig, and the better quality questions rise to the top. A recent client of mine was a top two finalist for a senior level position at a global firm and the final decision came down to who asked the better questions. She was completely prepared in every area, but they were looking for a certain type of question. Now, there was no possible way for her to have known that, but the moral of the story is that you have to prep for everything.
6. Be confident
People want to work with friendly, confident, and smart people. Show them that you are all of those things by looking sharp, getting a good nights’ sleep, and having little caffeine 30 minutes before you go in to the interview. A pro tip that I always suggest to clients is that right before you walk into the interview, say to yourself out loud, “I’ve got this!” You may think you look like a crazy person doing this, but you’ll be the crazy person who nails the interview and gets an offer.
Now, go nail the interview tiger!