With a little preparation, you can absolutely stand out in the interview. Let's cut to the chase—here are 11 interview tips to help you ace that next interview and get hired. Some may be obvious, but others are less so.Do your homework. Research earnings, quarterly reports, and blog posts for the prospective company. Then, answer questions and use the information.
Example: There are two ways to answer “What’s Google’s biggest opportunity in the next 5 years?”
Weak: “I think wearable technology will be big because Google Glass and Apple Watch represent a new trend that shows…”
Strong: “Call me geeky, but I was listening to Google’s quarterly earnings call and was blown away by the fact that display advertising hit over $5 billion in the past few years. Therefore, I think that…”
Ramp up your social media. A 2018 CareerBuilder study found that 70% of employers conduct social screenings to look for information supporting a candidate's qualifications for the job. So, get rid of senseless college posts and increase relevant professional posts.
Choose an interview slot that’s earlier in the day and the overall interview process. Research from UC Berkeley shows that “people consistently prefer the [candidates] that come first.”
Craft a “Story Statement,” aka a Cliffnotes version of your life story. For example, instead of responding to the question “Tell me about yourself” with “I studied [major X] because I really care about making a difference in [industry Y] as you can see through my last job at [company Z]…” come up with a succinct story that tells the interviewer something about yourself—and how this job is the next step in your story. Here’s an amazing Story Statement that Teach For America fellow Kareli Lizarraga used for her interviews:
I grew up in California and Arizona after immigrating to the United States when I was four years old. Since neither of my parents went to college, I relied on my high school teachers to help me apply to top universities. With their support, I was able to attend the University of Pennsylvania. Then I spent a summer at a Washington DC law firm, which represented low-income students and helped me realize that my passion lay within creating educational opportunities for all. I decided to become a teacher because I see myself so deeply reflected in the stories of so many students in your schools—and that’s why I’m so excited about the opportunity to interview with you today. Like my teachers did for me, I want to impact the next generation of students by supporting them and understanding the experiences they’re facing.
Wear a piece of clothing or jewelry that’s unique. Whether it’s some statement earrings you bought while abroad or your lucky tie, it will distinguish you from the crowd and possibly be a conversation starter.
Prepare for the question “What’s your weakness?” Instead of thinking of your imperfections, think about how you overcame them. For example:
Weak: “I guess I have a hard time delegating…”
Strong: “I’ve realized I have a hard time delegating tasks, leading to me feeling overwhelmed and my coworkers feeling frustrated. So, the last project we had, I made sure to delegate more work to my team and asked them to remind me to not take on everything by myself. In the end, everyone was happier, and more creativity and diversity of opinions were brought to the project than what would have happened otherwise.”
Come up with anecdotes to share during the interview. You have interesting experiences that you might forget to mention in the heat of the moment, so prepare at least three short stories to share.
Think out loud. This might be a difficult one for some people, but it’s important for the interviewer to see how you process information. Even if you come to the wrong conclusion, at least they’ll know how you got there.
Ask questions that also convey more new information about you. For example, instead of “Do you have many volunteer opportunities?” Say “I’ve volunteered at a senior center for a number of years. Does the company have many service events?”
Ask this final question: “Have I said anything in this interview or given you any other reason to doubt that I am a good fit for the role?” It shows confidence, it shows courage, and it gives the interviewer an opportunity to ask you follow-up questions if they were uncertain about anything.
Send a personalized thank you email. We go into more details about this in our Five Common Mistakes Job Seekers Make blog post.
We hope you feel prepared to take your next interview by storm. If you want more guidance, you can sign up for a one-on-one interview coaching with one of our seasoned career coaches. If you want a self-paced comprehensive career portal with the tools and support, have a look at our Job Search Portal - OI Solutions Career Center. As always, if you need help in navigating your career, buy our book, Don’t Dread Monday, while you’re at it.
*This blog post was adapted from an article by Jon Youshaei