7 Tips for Acing Your Big Job Interview
By Rachel Seitz
An anxiety-inducing phrase we’ve all faced at least once in our lives is “job interview.” Even for the most outgoing of us, the concept of sitting in front of a stranger and answering questions to try to get a job can be nerve-wracking.
But, with the right preparation, it doesn’t have to be.
At Climb Credit, we’re confident in the skills our borrowers have learned through their courses, and we want them to be equally confident when talking to potential employers. Here we have seven helpful tips to help you and your qualifications shine during interviews, and to make sure you’ve left a positive impression once it’s over.
1. Do Your Research
This may seem obvious, but employers like to have knowledgeable employees. Before the interview, make sure you have at least some basic knowledge of:
The company. Show your interviewer that you’re informed about the type of work they do and what they’ve done in the past. If you’re interviewing at a tech company, talk about the app they just made. If you’re at a publishing house, reference books they’ve published.
The job. Arriving at the interview and not knowing what the job would entail is a huge red flag. Before the interview, make sure you’ve studied not only this particular job posting, but also job descriptions for this position in general.
The industry. Make sure you keep a finger on the industry’s pulse. Scan the news so you know If there’s a huge story impacting the industry you’re trying to enter. And make sure you know about current industry standards; only knowing about outdated methods and tools is another red flag.
The interviewer. If you know who will be interviewing you in advance, do a bit of research on them as well. That way, you’ll have some knowledge of their own experience, past roles, and current position at the company.
Knowing all of this ahead of time can help you showcase how your skills align with the job, company, and team. And it will also help you avoid feeling out-of-place when industry-specific questions are asked.
2. Clean up Your Online Presence
Checking out someone’s social media before meeting them isn’t just for first dates. It’s also a useful tool for potential employers to get to know you. By taking a look at what you put on your public profiles, they can have a sense of who you are outside of your honed “interviewee” persona.
If you have public social media profiles, make sure there’s nothing on them that may be a turnoff to employers—a good rule of thumb is to assume recruiters are looking at your profiles. So, if there’s something on there you wouldn’t want a future boss to see, take it off or make it private.
After your initial review, take an extra look at your LinkedIn profile. Make sure everything’s up-to-date, with all of your past jobs, experience, and links to any projects or portfolios available for recruiters to see.
Bonus! Did you know that you can ask for recommendations on LinkedIn? Ask your past co-workers or managers to recommend you, and treat this page like your own personal review site for potential employers.
It’s an old adage, but it’s true: practice makes perfect. Think about what questions the interviewer may ask you (tip: google common interview questions for the position) and practice answering them.
Come up with your personal “elevator pitch.” Be ready for the employer to ask you to tell them about yourself, with a brief but impactful summary of who you are and how you got here—something short enough to say on a quick elevator ride but effective enough that it leaves an impression.
A good strategy here, rather than just reading chronologically the experience already listed on your resume, is to come up with four or five key points you want to get across in your interview, with examples of each. Use this time to highlight what makes you special and how you’ve demonstrated these traits in your past experience. If you have a quantifiable example, that’s even better—e.g. if you’re a strategic leader, talk about how your strategy for a project led to a 25% revenue increase for your previous employer. This gives the interviewer more insight into you and how you’ll approach the role you’re interviewing for.
Practice saying these things out loud in front of a mirror or with another person, so you can get a sense of what your responses look and sound like. Go over them several times and tailor them so that eventually they become as fluid and natural sounding as possible.
4. Have Everything Ready the Day Before
Nothing sets you off-kilter quite like having to rush around last-minute because you realized your interview outfit had a stain on it, or getting to the interview and realizing you’d completely forgotten to print out more copies of your resume.
The day before, make sure you have everything you need: your bag or briefcase is packed, multiple copies of your resume are printed, and your outfit is laid out and ready to go.
That way, you can spend the day of relaxed and able to focus on the interview itself!
5. Pay Attention to Your Body Language
While you’re being interviewed, be aware of your body language. Use hand gestures, but don’t spend the whole time fidgeting. Make eye contact with the interviewer and sit up in your chair—be relaxed, but engaged. This will demonstrate to the recruiter that you’re confident in your skills and ability to perform the job.
6. Ask Questions
At the end of the interview, you’ll be asked if you have any questions for the recruiter. Not having any questions is a definite detractor. After all, how could you have no questions about a potential career move?
Asking questions shows that you’re actively interested in what you’re doing and the company you’re trying to join. Have several questions to ask at the end of the interview (not just one, in case your main question already gets answered).
Google can offer some good suggested questions to ask in interviews, including:
What do you like about working at the company?
Where do you see the company heading?
What does a typical day look like for this position at this company?
What have you seen past people do in this position, that worked well and didn’t work well?
Do you have concerns about anything on my resume, or is there anything I haven't answered that you'd like to know more about?
If I were to work here, what would you like to see me accomplish in my first 90 days in the role?
7. Follow up
Once you’ve said your goodbyes and walked back out through the front doors, you’re not quite done. One final action you’ll want to take is sending your interviewer a thank you.
This can be an email or a handwritten note, but you definitely want to thank them for taking the time to speak with you, ideally referencing one or two things that you discussed in the interview. (“I read the article you recommended on trends in digital marketing, and loved the points she made.”)
Let the interviewer know that you’re thinking about what was said during the interview and are thankful for their time.
There’s no magic formula to make you the favorite of every employer and get you every job offer. But by following the above tips, you can stay ahead of the curve and leave interviews confident in your performance!