How To Ace An Interview

Many of us find the prospect of an important job interview unnerving, but preparation goes a long way to ensuring success. FYI suggests nine simple yet powerful steps to guarantee you handle the interview with poise.

  • Make Sure it’s a Good Fit

Ask yourself if you understand the job description and what the job entails. The interview process involves substantial effort from all parties and you should consider honestly if this position is a good fit for you.

  • Plan Ahead

Do your due diligence about your prospective employer; get familiar with their products and services as well as the latest industry developments. Review the corporate website and read their blog posts, annual report, and media coverage tabs. Equally important is your curriculum vitae or CV: review, revise, and rewrite. Prepare for the interview by making notes about any gap times in your CV or your answers to typical questions. Look up your interviewer on social media such as linkedin.com to get to know them.

  • Practice your Answers

Typical interview questions or topics can include:

  • Explain your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Why you are the best person for the job?
  • Why did you leave your previous position?
  • What job-related mistakes have you made in the past?

State your strengths with confidence and humility. No one is perfect and your interviewer knows that. Share lessons learned on the job. Conduct practice interviews with family and friends and prepare a 25-second sales pitch to sell yourself.

  • Dress the Part

Dress to impress in business attire: wear clean, pressed, classic but understated garments. No need to purchase an entirely new outfit. A new scarf or necktie can add some flair to boost your confidence.

  • Stay Calm

Here is a checklist for interview preparation:

  • Confirm the interview time, date, and location.
  • Plan (or practice) your route, allow extra time for traffic, parking, or transit delays.
  • Ensure everything you need* is ready to go.
  • Eat a healthy meal beforehand, clean your teeth, and have water with you (essential for a dry mouth).
  • Smile and be sincerely friendly to everyone you encounter – your potential co-workers – not just the interviewer you are aiming to impress.
  • Turn off your cellphone and breathe deeply.
  • Use pre-interview or waiting time by visualizing yourself shining in the interview.
  • Come Prepared

*Take along a paper copy of your résumé, a recent photograph of yourself, your portfolio, professional references, and a list of credentials. Include your state-issued identification and, for a first job interview after college, bring your college transcripts.

 

  • Interview Style

    Smile to set yourself and the interviewer at ease; make eye contact, listen attentively, and don’t interrupt; and, if you don’t understand something, ask questions. Keep your answers concise, direct, honest, and enthusiastic. “Come with a toolbox of examples of the work you’ve done,” advises Steve Fogarty, staffing partner at large independent PR Agency Waggener Edstrom (monster.com). “It is one thing to say you can do something; it’s another to give examples of things you have done.” Always focus on the positive; never bad-mouth a former employer or company. Fogarty also advocates keeping your guard up and being professional during the interview.
  • Ask the Right Questions

Seize this opportunity to learn even more about the company during the interview. A few well-prepared questions will impress the interviewer with your ability to take the initiative and demonstrate your quest for knowledge.

  • Follow Up

    Follow up the interview with a courtesy email or thank you note to remind the interviewer of your session.

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