How To Make a Winning Job Interview: Tips, Techniques, and Strategies

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Job wining Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

A successful job search has many components: an effective search strategy, a compelling resume and cover letter, and sharp job interview skills. If you’re getting a lot of phone screens and first interviews but no job offers, it might be time to examine the last part of the equation: your interviewing techniques.

How to Make the Best Interview Impression

To impress your interviewers, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that your qualifications and experience make you the best candidate for the job. This means knowing what they’re looking for, understanding what you have to offer, and being able to quantify your successes. It also means coming across as a likable person who will fit in well with the team and help the company achieve its goals.

Needless to say, communicating all these things during a relatively short conversation can be challenging. Get insight into the process and set yourself up for a successful job interview.   

What to Do Before the Interview

Research the Company. Gathering background information on a prospective employer is crucial to successfully preparing for an interview.

Your first step is to review the employer’s website, especially the About Us section. Take a look at the company’s social media presence, too. This will give you insight into how the company wants the public to perceive it. Research the company’s history, its position in the market, and new developments, particularly recent or planned changes that could affect your role. Don’t be afraid to request additional details about the position at hand, too.

When you demonstrate your knowledge about the organization during an interview, it shows genuine interest, which is what interviewers want to see.

The insights discovered in your research can also help you calibrate your responses to questions.

Practice Answering (and Asking!) Interview Questions. Prepare answers to commonly asked interview questions. Doing so will help you analyze your background and qualifications for the position. Plus, thinking through your responses will help you sound confident during the interview, and avoid rambling or incoherent responses. 

You should also be ready for behavioral interview questions, which many of today’s recruiters have adopted as a preferred method of screening candidates. Learn how to prepare for this common interviewing approach by reviewing this guide to behavioral based interviewing.

Very commonly, interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them so plan ahead, and have a list of questions ready to ask. Get even more tips to ace the interview, so you’re sure you’ve covered all the basics.

Envision Yourself in the Role. If you can’t imagine yourself in the job, chances are that it will be hard for the hiring manager to picture it, either. So, once you’ve determined that your qualifications and the job requirements are the perfect match, devote some time to envisioning yourself in this job.

In addition to helping you gain confidence, this strategy will help you prepare for a crucial part of the job interview: explaining what you can accomplish in your first 60 or 90 days on the job. Just remember to avoid sounding as if you have a plan to change everything about the company. Typically, hiring managers are invested in their organization, and may resent any suggestion that the company needs a top-to-bottom makeover.

Hold a Dress Rehearsal. Ask a close friend or mentor to conduct a mock interview with you—someone with insight about recruiting and hiring processes is ideal. Record the mock interview and review it to see how well you answer questions.

As well as paying attention to your responses during this practice run, take a look at your posture and eye contact. Your body language during an interview – from the initial handshake through the farewell at the end – can make a difference in how interviewers perceive you.

Don’t Forget the Details. Try on your interview attire. Make sure it fits and that you feel comfortable. Assemble your interview materials, e.g. copies of your resume and a list of references, and have your portfolio, briefcase, or bag packed and ready to go.

Don’t wait until the last minute to get directions to the interview location and estimate your travel time. Give yourself enough time to arrive several minutes early so you have time to decompress and relax before your meeting.

You have your job interview scheduled—congratulations! Now it’s time to prepare, and we’ve got you covered. Below, we provide an overview of how to succeed in an interview along with a detailed discussion surrounding each point.

Tips for before the interview

In the days before your job interview, set aside time to do the following:

1. Start by researching the company and your interviewers. Understanding key information about the company you’re interviewing with can help you go into your interview with confidence. Using the company’s website, social media posts and recent press releases will provide a solid understanding of the company’s goals and how your background makes you a great fit. Review our Complete Guide to Researching a Company.

2. Practice your answers to common interview questions. Prepare your answer to the common question: “Tell me about yourself, and why are you interested in this role with our company?” The idea is to quickly communicate who you are and what value you will bring to the company and the role—it’s your personal elevator pitch. Review our guide to answering Top Interview Questions.

Tip: You should come prepared to discuss your salary expectations. If you’re unsure what salary is appropriate to ask for, visit Indeed’s Salary Calculator for a free, personalized pay range based on your location, industry and experience.Tell me About YourselfImage description

3. Reread the job description. You may want to print it out and begin underlining specific skills the employer is looking for. Think about examples from your past and current work that align with these requirements.

4. Use the STAR method in answering questions. Prepare to be asked about times in the past when you used a specific skill and use the STAR method to tell stories with a clear Situation, Task, Action and Result.

5. Recruit a friend to practice answering questions. Actually practicing your answers out loud is an incredibly effective way to prepare. Say them to yourself or ask a friend to help run through questions and answers. You’ll find you gain confidence as you get used to saying the words.

6. Prepare a list of references. Your interviewers might require you to submit a list of references before or after your interview. Having a reference list prepared ahead of time can help you quickly complete this step to move forward in the hiring process.

7. Be prepared with examples of your work. During the interview, you will likely be asked about specific work you’ve completed in relation to the position. After reviewing the job description, think of work you’ve done in past jobs, clubs or volunteer positions that show you have experience and success doing the work they require.

8. Prepare smart questions for your interviewers. Interviews are a two-way street. Employers expect you to ask questions: they want to know that you’re thinking seriously about what it would be like to work there. Here are some questions you may want to consider asking your interviewers:

  • Can you explain some of the day-to-day responsibilities this job entails?
  • How would you describe the characteristics of someone who would succeed in this role?
  • If I were in this position, how would my performance be measured? How often?
  • What departments does this teamwork with regularly?
  • How do these departments typically collaborate?
  • What does that process look like?
  • What are the challenges you’re currently facing in your role?

Related: Questions to Ask in an InterviewInterview TipsImage description

Tips for during the interview

After you’ve spent time preparing, you can be successful on interview day by practicing these tips:

9. Plan your interview attire the night before. If you’re speaking to a recruiter before the interview, you can ask them about the dress code in the workplace and choose your outfit accordingly. If you don’t have someone to ask, research the company to learn what’s appropriate. For more, visit How to Dress for a Job Interview.

10. Bring copies of your resume, a notebook and pen. Take at least five copies of your printed resume on clean paper in case of multiple interviewers. Highlight specific accomplishments on your copy that you can easily refer to and discuss. Bring a pen and a small notebook. Prepare to take notes, but not on your smartphone or another electronic device. Write information down so that you can refer to these details in your follow-up thank-you notes. Maintain eye contact as much as possible. For more, visit What to Bring to the Interview.

11. Plan your schedule so that you can arrive 10–15 minutes early. Map out your route to the interview location so you can be sure to arrive on time. Consider doing a practice run. If you’re taking public transportation, identify a backup plan if there are delays or closures.

Tip: When you arrive early, use the extra minutes to observe workplace dynamics.

12. Make a great first impression. Don’t forget the little things—shine your shoes, make sure your nails are clean and tidy, and check your clothes for holes, stains, pet hair and loose threads. Display confident body language and a smile throughout.

13. Treat everyone you encounter with respect. This includes people on the road and in the parking lot, security personnel and front desk staff. Treat everyone you don’t know as though they’re the hiring manager. Even if they aren’t, your potential employer might ask for their feedback.

14. Practice good manners and body language. Practice confident, accessible body language from the moment you enter the building. Sit or stand tall with your shoulders back. Before the interview, take a deep breath and exhale slowly to manage feelings of anxiety and encourage self-confidence. The interviewer should extend their hand first to initiate a handshake. Stand, look the person in the eye and smile. A good handshake should be firm but not crush the other person’s fingers. For more, visit Everything You Need to Know About Job Interview Etiquette.

15. Win them over with your authenticity and positivity. Being genuine during interview conversations can help employers easily relate to you. Showing positivity with a smile and upbeat body language can help keep the interview light and constructive.

16. Respond truthfully to the questions asked. While it can seem tempting to embellish on your skills and accomplishments, interviewers find honesty refreshing and respectable. Focus on your key strengths and why your background makes you uniquely qualified for the position.

17. Tie your answers back to your skills and accomplishments. With any question you answer, it is important that you tie your background to the job by providing examples of solutions and results you’ve achieved. Use every opportunity to address the requirements listed in the job description.

18. Keep your answers concise and focused. Your time with each interviewer is limited so be mindful of rambling. Practicing your answers beforehand can help keep you focused.

19. Do not speak negatively about your previous employers. Companies want to hire 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.

Tips for after the interview

When the interview is over, give yourself the best chances of moving forward by doing the following:

20. Ask about next steps. After your interview, it is appropriate to ask either your interviewer, hiring manager or recruiter about what you should expect next. This will likely be a follow-up email with results from your interview, additional requirements like an assignment or reference list or another interview.

21. Send a personalized thank you letter after the interview. Ask for the business card of each person you speak with during the interview process so that you can follow up individually with a separate thank you email. If you interviewed in the morning, send your follow-up emails the same day. If you interviewed in the afternoon, the next morning is fine. Make certain that each email is distinct from the others, using the notes you took during the conversations.

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