Master These Simple Interview Basics To Excel At Job Interviews

Photo: Sebastian Herrmann |

Why do some people excel at job interviews, but you feel like it is always a struggle? If the thought of a job interview creates a bit of panic for you, try these steps to calm your nerves and prepare to crush your competition.

Plan your outfit.

You don’t want to be rushed on the day of your interview because you can’t decide what to wear, or your favorite dress or suit is wrinkled or dirty. Selecting your outfit ahead of time will allow you to try it on, make sure you still like the way it fits, and take time for any spot cleaning or ironing that you need to do.

Plan your route.

If you aren’t sure where the company’s office is located, it is worth taking a drive there ahead of time to figure it out. This is also beneficial for scoping out the parking situation. Driving to the location a day or two before your interview (if it is local) can also let you know if there is road work or other conditions that could delay your travel time. If a pre-interview trip isn’t possible, use online maps to get an idea about parking and location.

Research the company.

You want the employers to know you have done your homework. It is helpful to learn as much about the organization as possible. This will help you speak more intelligently about the work they do and ask more informed questions about the role you are seeking.

Select a few key stories that communicate your experience and skills.

Though each interview is different, there are some questions that are likely to be asked regardless of the position.

Employers will want to know about:

  • your past experiences
  • the skills you bring to the job
  • your strengths and weaknesses
  • why you are a good fit for the position

Think through responses to these ahead of time, and think about examples that you can provide which will demonstrate your point. What have been some of your best accomplishments? When have you excelled under pressure? What skills are you most known for among your coworkers?

Practice your responses aloud.

Some people are great at thinking on their feet and coming up with polished answers at a moment’s notice, but most of us are not. Since you can anticipate some of the questions you are likely to be asked, and you have chosen a few stories that highlight your skills, practice these out loud until they flow naturally. You don’t need to memorize them, and you don’t want to sound rehearsed, but you do want to be able to speak with confidence.

Prepare a great list of questions for the interviewers.

Many people approach interviews as if their goal is to merely survive the employer’s line of questioning and then escape as quickly as possible. An interview should be a conversation with both sides participating equally. The employer is trying to determine if you are a good fit for the position, but you also need enough information from the interview to determine if the company and the role are both a good fit for you. The way to do this is to ask the employer questions.

  • What does a typical day in this role look like?
  • What qualities will make someone in this role successful?
  • How would you describe the company’s culture?
  • What do you enjoy most about working for this organization?

Lastly, remember the basics:

Smile – it portrays both warmth and confidence

Express excitement. You want the employer to know you are truly interested and excited in the position.

Get plenty of sleep the night before and relax.

Greet everyone you meet warmly. You don’t know if the nice person who opened the door for you is an intern or the CEO. Everyone you meet will instantly decide if you “seem nice” or not.

Don’t forgot to follow up with a quick thank-you email to your interviewers.

Published by Career Coach Belinda

I’ve helped job seekers of all ages and career levels develop résumés, craft cover letters, and approach job interviews with confidence.

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