Interviewing has become a large part of our lives as we’re changing jobs more frequently than ever before. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average person will have 12 jobs from age 18 to 48. That’s a lot of interviews!
While many of us have interviewed in the past, we may still feel intimidated when walking into a room full of strangers. The tips ahead can help you prepare, practice, and feel more confident when approaching your next interview.
Prepare and Practice Interview Stories
During an interview you may be asked behavioral interview questions which ask you to describe a situation and how you handled it. An example: “Tell me about a time when you worked effectively under pressure?” This kind of question can be hard to answer on the spot without prior planning, so creating interview “stories” ahead of time can help you be prepared.
When answering a behavioral interview question you’ll want to use the following format:
- Explain the situation or task
- Describe any action you took to complete the task or solve a problem
- Explain the results of your actions
Using this method, you’ll be able to create a handful of stories that describe your strongest accomplishments and can answer a variety of behavioral interview questions. Be sure to practice your answers so that you’re able to speak in a succinct way to describe the story, your actions, and, ultimately, what you accomplished or learned in each situation.
Before each interview you’ll want to research the employer online as there’s no excuse in today’s world for not having basic background information on the organization, its mission, and purpose. Your research can include reviewing their website, mission statement, recent news and press releases, and understanding their business and the department for which you’re applying.
Most interviews will include a question about the company itself and making sure you have insider knowledge about their business will make you stand out. It may also be beneficial to research recent industry trends in the news, LinkedIn or other industry associations to be sure you’re on top of the latest and greatest information.
Prepare for the Unknown
One of the most important aspects of preparing for an interview is to prepare yourself for the unknown. This means taking the time to determine what could go wrong and then preparing steps to minimize or eliminate the chances of negative consequences.
For example, when driving to your interview, you might become lost or be unable to find nearby parking. How can you take concrete steps to mitigate the negative outcome of arriving late for your interview?
Remember, arriving late to an interview means you’re sending a message that your time is more important than the hiring manager. That’s not a message you want to send!
You can avoid this outcome by mapping out your route and perhaps even driving it ahead of time to be sure you know where the employer is located and how you’ll get there. Locate nearby parking options and then on the day of your interview, make sure to leave plenty of time for the trip so that you’ll arrive early rather than late.
Taking the time to determine the things that might go wrong ahead of time might sound unduly negative, but in actuality it can prepare you for the unexpected and help you get ahead.
Before each interview prepare a set of questions to ask the interview team at the end of your interview. Most employers will give each candidate the chance to ask their own questions and they’ll be expecting that you’ve prepared thoughtful questions about the position and employer.
You questions shouldn’t be about the salary, vacation time or other benefits of the position. Instead, your questions should focus on the position tasks and responsibilities, as well as the management style of the supervisor and other work-day related business practices of the employer.
Create, type, and bring at least eight to ten questions. However, be flexible in the moment, you may only have time to ask three to five as many of your questions may be answered during the interview itself.
Send a Thank You Note
Once you complete your interview, it’s expected that you’ll follow up with a personalized thank you note within 24 hours. This note can be an email, but be sure to include all the individuals involved.
Your note should address your excitement for the position and explain anything about your qualifications or background you feel weren’t completely covered during the interview itself. You can also reiterate your qualifications in a line or two and finally close by expressing your desire to hear from them soon with their hiring decision. This final step will show the hiring manager that you pay attention to detail and also give them a final look at your qualifications and desire for the position.
Once you’ve fully prepared yourself for an interview with succinct examples of your past achievements, a great understanding of the company itself, and created a list of standout questions for the employer, you’ll be well prepared to ace your next interview! By mitigating the unknown and following up with a well-written and timely thank you note, you’ll be sure to shine even after you’ve left the interview.