Acing Your Next Job Interview in 5 Easy Steps

Okay, so you have a well-written CV and you’ve drafted the perfectly appealing cover letter, and you’ve been offered an interview for a job you know you’d love.

Lots of folks look great on paper but can’t close the deal when they meet with a prospective employer. Is this you?  Have you interviewed for your dream job but did not get an offer?

Here are some tips to help you close the deal next time. Don’t lose your dream job because you failed to take these five easy-to-implement steps!

1. Know the Job and the Company

Google is your friend.  Google the company or person you are interviewing with and find out as much as you can about the business and about the position you are interviewing for.

Why? What you find out will inform your responses and questions during the interview, and provide context for anything the interviewer has to say about the job and the company. Speaking from a knowledge-based place will show the interviewer that you are interested enough in the position to do some research and learn about it.

Let’s say there is not much information about your position online. If the interviewer does not tell you more during the course of the interview, state that you did some research online and could not find much about this particular position, what duties are required?

Let’s say you discover something about the company that concerns you – for example, if the company is being sued or was sanctioned by the government, or if the company was recently sold.  This is all fair game as long as you ask tactfully, and again, the interviewer will know that you’ve done your research and are taking the answer to your question into account in deciding whether to accept a job offer.

2. Practice Selling Yourself

It is not common for most people to have the opportunity to promote themselves – it’s just not done in polite society. But during an interview, you absolutely must promote yourself! It’s why you are there!

The only way you get good at something is to practice it, so yes, enlist the help of friends and family and get them to interview you so you can practice talking about yourself on the spot.

To get you started, here is a list of common interview questions.  Here is another list of interview questions.

Here are three basic things to keep in mind while you are being interviewed:

Answer Questions Honestly and Thoroughly

Listen carefully to the interviewer and answer the questions asked.

This tip alone is worth the time you are taking to read this article. If you hedge or misunderstand the question and don’t answer it, that tells the interviewer something about your intelligence, your honesty, or your attention span – none of it complimentary.

If you truly don’t understand a question, ask for clarification. That’s honest.

Be Yourself

The interviewer is not only assessing you as a potential hire but you as a person. Sure, he or she wants to know if you can do the job, but also wants to know if you will fit into the company’s culture, if you seem like a trustworthy and reliable person, and if you seem like an interesting person to work with. What will be your unique contribution to the company?

An interviewer will be especially attuned to this if you are interviewing for a job with a small company, or for a company that employs a collaborative or team-based approach to their work.

Be Aware of Your Body Language

  • Practice a firm handshake
  • Maintain good (but not continual) eye contact
  • Sit up straight in your chair
  • Speak normally in a volume that matches interviewers, not too loudly or softly
  • Relax your facial muscles and smile!
  • If you “talk with your hands,” feel free to do so but not too much!

3. Make a Good First Impression

Arrive Early

If you are on time, you are late.  Get there at least 15 minutes early so that you have time to locate the office and you can find and use the restroom if you need it.

Think about how much time it will take to get there, and especially if you are using public transportation, plan your trip so that if the worst happens and your train or bus is delayed or canceled, you still have time to get there prior to the scheduled interview time.

This is non-negotiable. You only get one chance to make a first impression and if you arrive late you are telling your interviewer that you will come into work late in the future.

Dress Appropriately

To dress appropriately, or to dress professionally, means different things in different professions. When you Google the company, take notice of what people are wearing on the site. Then take that style and ramp it up one notch informality.

For example, if you are interviewing for a warehouse stockist position and the site shows people in Carhartt overalls, wear a pair of khakis and a button-down shirt. If the employees’ attire looks like office-casual, wear a suit. If everyone is wearing business suits, then yes, wear a business suit and look as polished as possible.

Be conservative in your attire choice and color choice.

4. Ask Questions about the Position and the Company

This shows your interest in the position and re-engages the interviewer. If the company’s mission and values weren’t available online, ask about them. Ask about the culture of the company – is there casual Friday? A company softball team?

The final question you’ll want to ask is when the interviewer expects to be able to make a decision about who to hire.

5. Follow Up With a Thank-You Note or Email

These days it is perfectly acceptable to send the interviewer an email rather than a hand-written thank you note. This email is not only the polite thing to do, but it gives you the opportunity to express continued interest in the position and let the interviewer know you’ll be following up on X date, or that you are looking forward to hearing from him or her when the interview process is complete.

Using these five easy steps, you will ace your next interview!

About the Author

Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with busy Philadelphia appeals attorney Todd Mosser, Esq.