Job interviews can be TERRIFYING.
After all, there are hundreds of things that could go wrong …
If you’re reading this post we’re going to assume that you’ve already mastered the core elements of a great cover letter and resume (if not, you should probably check out this article on cover letters and this one on resumes before doing anything else).
If you’re reading this, you’ve gotten past the first step, your interview is coming up and you don’t know what to do!
RELAX — that’s why we’re here! First, let us remind you of some important good news: Everyone is in the same boat you are…nervous! Even expert interviewees get nervous from time to time. After all, there is a lot on the line.
Here’s some more good news: If you are selected for an interview, it means that your résumé and application stood out enough to spark the attention of the hiring manager. Basically what I am saying is that if you’re going in for an interview, they already like you! (Ever think of that?)
Don’t get me wrong — there’s still a long road involving hours of necessary preparation before you could be presented a job offer. We know what you are thinking; but no, suggesting hours of preparation is not overrated advice.
At InterviewSuccessFormula they suggest that you should be spending a minimum of one full day (that’s at least 8 full hours) to prepare for your interview. While the exact amount of preparation time can vary from person to person, the truth is, going to your interview prepared WILL make all the difference.
How many hours do you prepare? Are you confident that you are making the best use of your time?
Please, don’t get stuck believing the lie that good interviews come naturally. Don’t think that just because you will be a good fit for the job, it will come out easily in conversation, without proper preparation.
“But Will”, you say, “I’m only going to be asked questions about myself, and that’s easy,” or “What is there really to prepare for? I’ll either do well in the interview, or I won’t.”
Sorry to be so blunt, but if you find yourself asking a question like the ones above, then the chances of you performing well under pressure are slim to none. It’s the B.S.-your-way-through-the-easy-class mentality, and you simply should not buy it.
Because the result is a lot different than a few decimals on a 4-point scale. This interview can make or break your chances at a new job, a much higher income, a ultimately a better life. When your dream job is on the line are you really going to risk all and just wing it?
Yea, I didn’t think so.
A successful interview will only happen when you are prepared for it! Proper interview preparation is key for everyone whether or not you are a “naturally good interviewer.” We’ve seen it work many, many times and can’t repeat it enough: If you want the job, you need to prepare.
… Ok. Hopefully by now you’re sold. Hopefully by now you’re realize that you DEFINITELY need to prepare for the interview if you are going to take the job search seriously. So what’s next? How do you make sure you’re ready?
Good interviewing skills are like anything else: the best performance comes with practice. Lots of practice.
The best way to do that? You can practice by yourself in front of a mirror. You can practice by asking your friend to pretend to be an interviewer. You can practice with a professional training session (click here to learn more about ours), and of course you can’t beat practicing in the real thing, by apply for lots of jobs, and getting the hands on opportunity, even if you don’t plan to accept an offer.
So practice. Often. Even if it means you get turned down for several jobs in the process. Each hour of practice will give you invaluable experience and get you that much closer to nailing the offer you want.
You want some tips before you go in for the first one? Good thinking. Before you start, take the time to internalize these 4 keys to nailing an interview:
Preparation Stage: The 5 Keys to Nailing an Interview
Key #1: Write the script.
A good interview is one where you write the script. Literally.
We know, we know – you aren’t the one asking most of the questions. But in 99% of interviewers’ cases, the questions that your potential employer will be asking you all fit into one of a few specific categories. No matter what the questions are, your prepared script can help you control the answers and nail nearly every question as if you’d known what is coming and practiced it 100 times before.
Again, the key is to prepare not for exact questions, but for categories of questions. By breaking down all of the most common questions into several specific categories, and then formulating and preparing a general answer review sheet for each question category, (something we teach in our interview training course), you can easily have a prepared answer for nearly every question that is thrown at you.
Key #2: Share 3-7 core stories that you’ve prepared beforehand.
If you’re going to nail the interview, you’ve got to be armed with 3-7 stories that really hit home describing who you are.
Do a little soul searching: what are your most compelling examples and stories that demonstrate your ability to do your job well. Those are the stories you want to use during the interview.
Make sure you exactly what stories you want to share and be sure to have went over them several times out loud. That way, when you sense to opportunity for to share, you know exactly what to say in a clear, concise, and convincing way.
Key #3: Know the company.
Obviously if you are going to be able to answer questions regarding the company, you’re not just going to know everything off the top of your head. It is going to take some research (sorry, but once again this is called preparation).
Here is an idea to get you started on a successful research campaign: Look for the aspects of each company that differentiate them from the others. Showing your knowledge of the core values of the company who is interviewing you helps them know that you understand who they are.
Only with this base can you do what is probably the most important thing of all: Show the listener that that you will be a good fit for their needs.
Key #4: Ask Brilliant Questions
That’s right, 40% or more of a good interview involves you asking questions of the employer.
Poignant, brilliant questions. Show your interviewers that you have a brain and you’re not afraid to use it to make their company better should you be given the job. Set yourself out from the crowd–by not caring about yourself.
Why does this matter? Isn’t the interview about you? Why would you want to get to know the person you are interviewing talking? Well, it’s because of a basic principle of life: Everyone likes to talk about themselves (yes, everyone). When we can express a genuine interest in the other person, and get them talking about what is important to them, it makes them feel great! If you can make them feel great about themselves, they will like you. The more they like you, the more they will be inclined to hire you.
What are some things you can ask? It depends a lot on the situation (you should constantly and carefully listening to the interviewer for more specific things you may want to know), but if you’re struggling try some of these:
1. “If you were to hire me, what is the first major problem I would face on the job?”
2. What is it you love most about working for this company, and what are some things you have struggled with?
3. How will my success be measured? What can I begin doing today to prepare to be effective in this position?
Then, reply to their answers and show them that you are a great fit for the job. If you can do this well, you will implant in their minds that you are the right candidate for the job. (Not to overemphasize, but this is also something we teach extensively in our interview training course).
Got it? Now go present yourself well.
Presenting yourself well takes many different forms. Aside from the 4 keys above, your physical presentation WILL affect the way you come across! It’s a delicate balance – confidence without cockiness, conservative yet competent. Here are a more few simple, yet essential tips:
- Greet your interviewers with a firm, two-handed handshake.
- Set yourself apart from the crowd by showing interest in THEM.
- Listen well. Ask relevant questions.
- Know the name of the person you are interviewing with and say it back to them out loud.
- Send a thank you letter after the interview. It is a five minute task that speaks volumes about your character to your potential employer! It also demonstrates that you are genuinely interested in the job, and it helps add a touch of professionalism to your personality.
Ok, that’s all we’ve got for now! We have some more GREAT resources available all over our blog, so if you want to go deeper into this interview preparation process be sure to check out some of our others articles at coldcollar.com/blog