Getting a job interview is an exciting and scary experience. You want to make a great impression on your interviewer and get the job, but you likely feel super nervous. To have a good interview, do your homework ahead of time by researching the employer, reviewing the job description, and planning how you’ll answer questions. Then, make a good impression by dressing professionally and arriving on time. When you’re talking to your interviewer, focus on how you fit the company and try to give memorable answers. Then, follow up with the interviewer to increase your chances of getting hired.
[Edit]Doing Your Homework
Research the potential employer before the interview. Type the name of the company into your favorite internet search engine. Review their website, then check out their recent postings on social media. Next, look for news articles about the company. Learn as much as you can so you can show that knowledge in your interview.
Pay attention to the company’s mission statement, their current goals or projects, and their future plans.
Look for materials that were provided to employees, shareholders, or potential investors.
Find the interviewer on LinkedIn so you can learn about them. Learning about your interview allows you to build a rapport with them. Additionally, you can tailor your answers to them, which might help you get the job. Check out your interviewer’s profile to find out where they went to school, where they’ve worked, and what jobs they’ve held. Try to find some commonalities with them.
For example, if you both studied the same major in college, you might be able to bring that up in your interview.
If they don’t have a LinkedIn account, see if you can find them on other social media sites. However, don’t stalk your interviewer and be careful with information that isn’t related to work. Your interviewer won’t be impressed by your knowledge about their family life.
Review the job description so you can explain why you’re a good fit. Your interview is your chance to show why you’re a good fit for the job, and the job description tells you exactly how to do that. Read over the job description to identify the skills and abilities the company wants in a successful candidate. Then, connect your work and education history to what they’re looking for.
For instance, let’s say the job description includes “self-starter,” “able to create innovative solutions,” and “team mindset.” You might identify instances where you’ve worked alone and met deadlines, examples of creative solutions you’ve implemented, and stories about your successes on team projects.
Practice answering common questions before your interview. While some employers throw in random questions, there are several popular interview questions that appear in most job interviews. Review these questions and develop a good answer based on your work and education history. Then, practice delivering your answers. Here are some common questions:
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
Why do you want to work for this company?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What about 10 years?
Why are you leaving your current company?
What do you think you offer that no one else will?
When did you make a mistake in the past? What happened?
What is an accomplishment that makes you proud?
Do a mock interview with a friend or family member. Doing mock interviews helps you practice giving your answers to another person. Pick someone who is supportive of you but will give you honest feedback about how you can improve. Then, give them a list of common interview questions that they can ask. Treat the mock interview just like a regular interview.
Ask the mock interviewer to bring you into the interview space and sit you down. Then, answer their questions just like you would in a normal interview.
If you can’t get someone to interview you, film yourself answering the questions aloud. Then, watch the video to see how you can improve.
Make a list of 5-10 potential questions you can ask. Asking questions in an interview shows that you’re interested in the job and took the time to prepare. Based on your research and the job description, identify 5-10 potential questions that you might ask at the interview. Write your questions down so that you’ll have a few options in mind when you go in for your interview.
For instance, you could ask questions like, “Are there opportunities for growth here?” “How big is the team?” or “What resources are available for the project?”
Ask about the biggest projects you’ll be working on. This shows your employer that you’ve closely read the job description and are anticipating taking on the role.
It’s okay to ask questions that come to you during the interview. Your list of questions should be a fall-back.
Identify career or education-related stories you can tell in the interview. Telling a story can help you demonstrate that you have the skills for the job. Think about times that you accomplished something significant, created a solution, handled a difficult situation, overcame an obstacle, or demonstrated leadership skills. Then, practice explaining those experiences in a way that highlights your best qualities.
For example, you might explain how you handled someone stealing credit for your work at a past job or how you got the best out of a team that wasn’t collaborating well.
Similarly, you might highlight your accomplishments by telling a story about how you attained your most lucrative client or how you solved a problem that could have been a major liability for your company.
Bring copies of your resume and portfolio if you have one. Your interviewer likely has a copy of your cover letter or resume, but having your own copies makes you look ultra-prepared. Take a folder containing several copies of your resume and cover letter to the interview, just in case. Additionally, bring a copy of your work portfolio if that’s common in your industry.
For instance, you might bring a portfolio if you’re interviewing for a design job. However, you probably won’t need one if you’re interviewing to be a nurse or a barista.[Edit]Making a Good First Impression
Dress professionally to show you’re serious about getting the job. Choose an outfit that reflects the position you want to attain. Additionally, make sure your outfit is clean, wrinkle-free, and fits well. This will show the potential employer that you take your career seriously.
Don’t wear a bunch of cologne or perfume to your interview. Some people are sensitive to smells, so the scent might detract from what you’re saying.
If you know the company culture includes more casual dress, it’s okay to choose an outfit that fits with the typical workplace attire.
Turn off your phone and other electronics before the interview. You probably have a lot of important concerns right now, but dealing with them in a job interview is a no-no. Put your phone and other electronics on silent or turn them completely off. If you feel your phone go off, ignore it until after the interview.
If you’re in a unique situation where you can’t turn off your phone, discuss this with your interviewer ahead of time. For instance, if you were an on-call nurse who’s interviewing for a job as a college professor, you might need to take a call from the hospital. In this unique case, your interviewer might understand.
Arrive to your interview 10-15 minutes early. It’s really important that you be on time for the interview. Not only does it show you’re reliable, it also demonstrates that you can plan ahead for unfamiliar situations. Being late for any reason will make you look unorganized and unconcerned.
Don’t arrive more than 15 minutes early because it may confuse or inconvenience your interviewer. If you arrive to the location really early, go for a short walk or review your interview materials while you wait outside.
Make eye contact when you meet your interviewer. Eye contact shows the interviewer that you’re really listening to them and helps create a connection. Additionally, it projects that you have good interpersonal skills. Maintain eye contact during your greeting and throughout the interview.
If eye contact is hard for you, practice by making eye contact with yourself in a mirror or practice with a relative or friend.
Give a firm handshake so you seem confident. When you meet your interviewer, go in for a handshake. Give their hand a firm squeeze and pump your arm twice before pulling away. This shows them that you’re confident and have strong interpersonal skills.
If your palm is sweaty, discreetly wipe your hand off on your clothes or a tissue before you go in for the handshake.[Edit]Talking to the Interviewer
Set a positive, enthusiastic tone throughout the interview. You’ll be a stronger candidate if you appear to have a good attitude and seem excited about the job. Focus your answers on your accomplishments and how you hope to succeed moving forward. When you talk about past obstacles, explain how they’ve helped you grow and what lessons you’ve learned.
For instance, tell the interviewer that you’re excited to take on new job tasks. Say, “I’m really excited about the opportunities for growth here. This project sounds really exciting.”
When talking about a conflict with a past coworker, say, “Communication with my team leader at my prior job was difficult at first, but our relationship taught me new ways to communicate. Because we compromised, we were able to complete our project ahead of schedule.”
Explain why you’re a great fit for the position and the company. The interviewer wants to know how you’ll solve the company’s problems, so tell them why you’ll perform well in the position if you’re hired. Discuss how your skills fit the job description and what your first steps will be if you’re hired. Additionally, use stories about your past work to show how you’ll perform well at this company.
Your answers to each question should focus on how your knowledge, skills, and background fit this position and this company.
As an example, let’s say they ask you, “Why do you want to work for this company?” You might say something like, “I love that this company is focused on innovation instead of maintaining the status quo. In my career, I’ve developed systems that explore new concepts, and I want to pursue that further.”
Tell a unique story about your career or education so you’re memorable. The company is likely interviewing a lot of candidates, so it’s easy to blend in with the other interviewees. To stand out, tell a story that makes you memorable. Make sure that one of the stories you pick from your work or education history sets you apart from the other candidates, then include that in your answers to the interview questions.
For example, let’s say your interviewer has asked, “What is a time that you made a mistake in the past? What happened?” You might reply, “At my previous job, I saved an important client presentation to a USB drive that I accidentally broke on the way to the client meeting. I knew my company needed to impress the client, so I had to recreate the presentation from scratch. I made myself a couple of notecards and delivered the presentation from memory. To make up for the lack of visuals, I incorporated audience participation. The representatives had so much fun in the presentation that they invited me to lunch and signed a contract that same day.”
Put a positive spin on past career obstacles so you seem resilient. You’ve likely had some tough workdays and possibly a boss or coworker you hated. However, it’s never a good look to bring this up in an interview. Instead, talk about how you thrived when going through an obstacle and focus on the best qualities in your former coworkers.
For instance, let’s say your boss yelled a lot and degraded you. Instead of talking about how bad of a boss they were, you might say, “We didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but my former boss and I talked every day.”
Avoid telling jokes because they might make you look less professional. Jokes are tricky because they might get misunderstood. The interviewer could be offended or might mistake your joke for a sign that you don’t care about your work. Play it safe and don’t make jokes.
It’s okay if you tell a story that’s slightly humorous. However, don’t try to make something funny if it’s not.
Never tell jokes about your profession or the interviewer’s job. They might not appreciate your sense of humor.
Be honest about your weaknesses but explain how you’ll improve. You might feel embarrassed about your weaknesses, and that’s totally normal. However, lying or trying to pretend your weaknesses are really strengths won’t do you any favors. Instead, explain what your biggest weakness has been in the past. Then, discuss what you’re doing to improve on it.
As an example, don’t try to turn your weakness into a strength by saying, “My biggest weakness is that I’m too dedicated to my job.” The interviewer will only think that you’re not being honest about your actual weaknesses.
You might say, “I sometimes get flustered when I’m speaking to large groups. While people don’t seem to notice, I think my job performance will be better if I improve my public speaking skills. I’ve recently joined Toastmasters and I’m already feeling more confident.”
Ask your interviewer questions about the job. Your interviewer will give you a chance to ask questions about the job, which typically occurs at the end of the interview. Ask 3-5 questions based on what you discussed or from your list of prepared questions. This shows that you’re interested in the job.
You might ask, “What does the timeline look like for the upcoming project?” or “Will the selected candidate be able to suggest new opportunities from growing sales?”[Edit]Closing the Interview
Thank the interviewer for their time and assistance. Your interviewer is probably really busy, so they’ll appreciate your acknowledgement of their time. Shake their hand and tell them that you’re appreciative of the chance to interview. Additionally, thank them for any special help they’ve given you, such as telling you more about the company, explaining where to park, or setting the interview at a time that works for you.
Say, “Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. I really appreciate the information you provided about this great opportunity.”
Tell the interviewer that you want the job. It’s common for people to change their mind about a job after their interview. Because of this, your interviewer is likely to focus on the candidates who seem the most excited about filling this position. Before you leave, make it clear that you want this job by directly telling the interviewer.
You might say, “I know this job is a perfect fit for my skills, and I hope I get the chance to help your company reach its goals.”
Send a follow-up email or thank you note. Some interviewers perceive a follow-up as an indication that a person is really interested. For most jobs, it’s best to send a brief email telling the interviewer that you appreciate the opportunity and are available to discuss the job further. However, you might send a handwritten note if you work in a creative industry or the non-profit sector.
Write, “Dear Mr. Jones, Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. I’m even more excited about this opportunity. I’d really like the opportunity to talk to you more about what I can do for your company. Thanks, Amy Lincoln.”
Prepare to discuss your skills with several people at a second interview. During a second interview, you’ll typically expand on your work history and abilities, often with stories about your past jobs. Identify additional stories that you can use to show that you’ll fit into this position. Additionally, review a list of out-of-the-box interview questions so you can practice thinking on your feet.
It’s likely that you’ll interview with a panel or several different people. Assume that you’re going to be talking to several people from different departments.
Get someone you trust to ask you a bunch of random questions so you can practice answering.[Edit]Additional Help
WH.shared.addScrollLoadItem(‘5e339831dca8f’)Sample Followup Interview QuestionsWH.shared.addScrollLoadItem(‘5e339831dd3ae’)Sample Job Interview Questions and ResponsesWH.shared.addScrollLoadItem(‘5e339831dde46’)Sample Interview Strengths and WeaknessesWH.shared.addScrollLoadItem(‘5e339831de877’)Interview Tips and Tricks
Don’t get off-topic because it can waste your interview time. Your interviewer likely has a block of time reserved for this interview, so use every moment to show why you’re a good fit.
If you don’t know an answer, admit that you need to learn more about that topic. Say, “I’m not as well-informed about that topic, but I’ll find the answer after this interview.”
If you have an interview with a company that you do not want to keep, you may need to decline it as soon as possible.[Edit]Warnings
Remember that your interviewer is a professional who’s interviewing you for a job. Don’t talk to them like they’re a friend or overshare information that’s not related to the job.
The interviewer may interrupt your flow to see how you react. If this happens, remain calm and helpful.[Edit]Related wikiHows
Keep a Job Interview on Track
Ask for a Job Interview
Go to an Interview
Dress for an Interview as a Man
Avoid Interview Mistakes
Cancel a Job Interview
Perform Well in a Group Interview
Ace a Job Interview (Teenage Girls)
Sell Yourself in Any Job Interview[Edit]References
[Edit]Quick Summary↑ https://www.livecareer.com/resources/interviews/prep/interview-success