If you are looking for a job, learning how to pass an interview is essential to getting hired.
If you have an interview on your schedule – congratulations! Your resume and qualifications impressed a potential employer and got your foot in the door.
Now you are at the point where you can make it or break it. If you perform well during the conversation with hiring managers, you may finally get the position you’ve been looking for. But if you fail, well… you fail.
There are a number of steps you need to take before, during and after the interview to ensure that you make a good impression on the potential hirers. You need to be ready for the questions you will be asked, have done your research on the company and the position, prepare all the necessary documents and know how to follow up on the interview.
It can be easy to overlook some of the important details, especially if you feel a bit nervous before the big day. For your convenience and peace of mind, we have compiled these helpful tips on how to successfully pass an interview. Be sure to review them, so that you go into your meeting feeling confident and ready to give yourself the best chance of getting a new job.
Taking the time to prepare for an interview can significantly increase your chances on getting a job. Good interview preparation will help you to project confidence, stay positive and showcase the experience that makes you the ideal candidate for the position.
Here are a few things to get you ready.
Research the Company and Industry
You will make an impression of a serious candidate if you have a solid knowledge about the company – their products or services, financial performance, management team, latest news or achievements and other details.
An interviewer may ask you about the company’s main competitors, how you perceive its position in the market, or what you think about its newly launched product. Your ability to answer these questions will add value to the conversation, while showing your true interest in what the company is doing.
Start your research with the employer’s website. Read the “About” section, management bios, if they are available, as well as product or service pages. Also, check customer feedbacks on Google, Yelp and other review sites to discover the company’s strong and weak points. You can use this information during the interview to explain how you would improve the company’s performance or customer service.
Anticipate and Practice Questions You Might Be Asked
A considerable part of your interview preparation should be practicing your answers to interview questions, so that you can easily come up with articulate and thoughtful response during the meeting.
What is the best way to practice?
You can easily find lists of common interview questions on the Internet. Here are some of the great examples:
- 50 Most Common Interview Questions
- Behavioral Interview Questions
- Brain teaser Interview Questions
- The 40 Most Frequently Asked Job Interview Questions
- Open-Ended Job Interview Questions and Answers
- Top 18 Common Interview Questions and Answers
- How to Answer the Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions
- 26 most common interview questions and answers (with free PDF download)
Select any list and think about which questions you’re most likely to have. Then prepare and practice your answers carefully, as you don’t want to be caught off-guard by the unexpected inquiry during the actual interview.
Try to come up with the answers that are sincere, but still reflect positively on you as a candidate. You don’t need to completely memorize your response, so that it comes out rehearsed, but have a clear idea of what you are going to say.
Practice interviewing with a friend or family member as many times as you possibly can. You’ll be much better at answering, “Why are you the best candidate for this position?” the 20th time you do it than the first.
Make sure you practice the interview in the same format as the real interview. If it is a phone interview, ask a friend to call you to practice answering questions over the phone. If it is a panel interview, ask a couple of friends to pretend to be a panel.
Line Up Some Smart Questions of Your Own
Interviewers always ask if you have any questions during or after the interview. Asking your own questions shows you are engaged in the conversation and have done your homework when it comes to researching the company and the specific job you’re after.
So, be ready to come up with a couple of intelligent inquiries when the tables turn and it’s your time to ask. Good questions might include:
- What’s a great day like for you?
- What achievement here you are most proud of?
- What’s a challenge you currently are facing in your role?
- How is the company helping you tackle this challenge?
- What drew you to your role at the company?
- How do you feel your role furthers the mission?
- Who is someone you admire in your company, and why?
- What are some things the team does together?
Come Up with Your Personal “Unique Selling Points”
Prepare to go into the interview with at least three selling points in mind, such as what makes you the best candidate for the position. These might be the skills, knowledge or experience that you can offer, while others can’t.
Have an example of each selling point prepared, so the employer can see that they will get return on their investment if they hire you.
For example, if you implemented something at a previous job that improved their productivity and saved your office 3 hours of paperwork a day, talk about it. Or, let’s say you earned $50,000 for a client with one marketing campaign, don’t be shy…tell that story it.
Review Your Social Media Accounts
In most cases, the employer would review your social media accounts to get an idea of who you are. So, make sure to check your online postings and pictures and delete any information that is embarrassing or could cast you in a negative light with the prospective employer.
Complete All Necessary Documents
- Have at least five copies of your resume. You never know who you’ll be meeting with, and you want to have your resume ready to go in case you’re asked for it;
- Prepare a list of references, including each person’s name, title, organization, division or department, telephone number, and email address, as well as a sentence briefly explaining the relationship;
- Make sure you have your work samples such as writings, design layouts, and any other relevant materials you can demonstrate to the hiring manager if necessary.
- Put a pen and paper into your bag, so you can write down the interviewer’s name, the time of any future interview, or other information you might need later. Besides, note-taking makes you appear engaged and well-organized.
After you’ve spent some time preparing, let’s review which steps you need to take to successfully pass a job interview:
Be on Time
Being on time means 10-15 minutes earlier your scheduled interview time. Give yourself a few extra minutes to visit the restroom, check your outfit, and calm your nerves.
If you’re going to be late for any reason, make sure you inform the interviewer as early as possible.
If your interview is in an unfamiliar area, drive to the location the day before to know exactly where you are going and how long it will take to get there. Consider the time of your interview so you can adjust for local traffic conditions at that time.
Use Confident Body Language
Practice confident and open body language from the moment you enter the interview room. Greet the interviewer with a gentle smile and a firm, but not clenching handshake.
Sit with your back straight. Lean your torso slightly towards the interviewer and listen closely during the conversation. This will help to enhance your genuine interest in the content of the interview and the role itself. Look at the interviewer when you’re talking and when he or she is speaking.
Being nervous during the interview is natural and your potential hirers know that. Don’t be afraid to say what you feel. It might get you into more personal conversation with the interviewer and help you to stand out.
Just try to relax and stay as calm as possible. Pay attention to the question so that you don’t forget it and listen to the entire question before you answer. Avoid cutting off the interviewer, especially when he or she is asking questions. If you need to take a moment to think about your answer, that’s absolutely fine.
Be Smart When Answering Questions
Remember, you don’t need to have an immediate answer to a question. It’s even better to show the interviewer that you think about questions before responding. Slow down and think about it. A perfect interviewing trick is to say, “That’s a great question, let me think about a good answer.”
Keep in mind, that with any question you answer, it is important that you tie your answers back to your skills and accomplishments. Don’t miss any opportunity to address requirements listed in the job description.
No negative experiences during an interview! Even if the hiring manager asks you point-blank “What you didn’t like about that job?” don’t speak negatively about your previous employers. Companies search for problem solvers who overcome tough situations. If you’re feeling discouraged about your current job, focus on talking about what you’ve gained from that experience and what you want to do next.
When the interview is over, there is still one important step you need to take to cement a great impression about your personality.
Say Thank You
First of all, get the contact information of your interviewers at the end of the meeting. You may ask for the business card of each person you spoke with.
Within 24 hours of your interview, send a personalized thank you email to each interviewer. Express your gratitude for the productive conversation and the time they set aside to talk to you.
But most important, consider this thank you email as one more chance to prove you’re the best candidate for this position. Restate your interest in the job, remind them of your qualifications, skills and how you can contribute to the company’s success.
If you follow these interview steps, we’re pretty much sure you’ll be in a good shape to pass your upcoming interview and land a desired job offer. Good luck!