Get the Job You Want (Part 2): Have Your Best Interview Ever
Take a deep breath.
Look how far you’ve come! All of your job search activities – networking, sending out your resume/CV, completing applications and follow up – has paid off. You made it, you’re in the door, you’re at the interview!
Relax, you’ve prepared for this. Remember: the interview is a time for both you and the interviewer to get to know each other and figure out whether both of you would like to work together. It is not just a time when you are being evaluated!
THe 3 questions that both you & the interviewer need to answer:
- Do you have the skills to do the job?
- Will you fit in at this company?
- Do you want the job? Do they want you?
Now, here’s your part to ensure you have your best interview ever:
The following tips are critical in an in person interview, and doubly so if you are being interviewed on the phone. Your job is to be positively memorable to the interviewer.
1. Develop a Connection:
The way people develop a connection in each culture varies greatly, and in many countries women carefully navigate the connection they make with men at work. Taking your cultural norms into account, be prepared to make some introductory comments that establish a link between you and the interviewer. Here few ideas:
- If you have a mutual acquaintance, reference the connection.
- If you belong to the same organization, bring that up as a conversation starter.
- If you went to the same school, or perhaps have the same university degree ask about the interviewer’s educational experience.
- If you share a previous employer, share what you enjoyed or learned working there.
- If you are from a a similar part of the country, make mention of it.
- Perhaps you have a common interest – talk about that briefly.
These are the types of things you can find out from the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile, from doing a web search about them, or by asking a mutual acquaintance before the interview.
Observe the interviewer’s style and approach. If they are relaxed and initiate the interview with a conversational tone, that’s your cue to do the same. Bring up one or two things you share in common before the interview begins. If the interviewer is all business and gets right to the interview questions, then bring up one or two of these points as you answer questions.
As the interview progresses, reflect on the interviewer’s approach, especially if you will be working directly for them. Ask yourself if you’d enjoy and excel working with them.
2. Tell Your Story:
In the first article of this series written to help you get the job you want, I encouraged you to develop what you want to share about yourself in terms of a story with themes. More than answering each question, your job is to tell a story about yourself. Frame your answers to address the requirements of the job. Cover what’s important to you, what you are good at, what you enjoy doing, your history, your interests and your goals. Answer with enthusiasm.
As the interviewer asks each question, each of your answers should build on each other (and not be completely separate responses) so that the interviewer can form a complete picture of you. Provide actual examples of things you have done to support the statements you make.
Be sure to have an aspect of your story that sets you apart from other candidates and that the interviewer will remember. Is there a particular accomplishment from school or previous job that exemplifies what you are capable of? Do you have a humorous or difficult situation that illustrates your capabilities?
3. Ask Questions:
This is where you research on the company that you did prior to the interview comes in. You have two goals when you ask questions:
- To demonstrate a) your interest in the company, b) your ability to gather and synthesize information and c.) what’s important to you.
- To gather information to help you decide if offered the job if you would take it.
A few examples of questions:
- What are the primary challenges/opportunities you (or the company) are currently facing?
- What is it like to work here? What do you like best about working here?
- What skills and attributes do people who excel at your company have?
- What happened to the person who previously had this job?
- If you learned about a specific project or noteworthy item about the company in your research, ask about that.
If you will be working with/for the interviewer:
- What are your primary expectations of the person who takes this job? What results do you expect them to deliver?
- What is your communication style?
(Questions adapted from HelpGuide.org Interviewing Techniques and Tips.)
ENDING THE INTERVIEW PROCESS:
End your portion of the interview by thanking the interviewer and expressing your interest in the role (if you are still interested). Be sure you understand the next steps and when you should expect to hear back.
There’s one more piece you will need to excel at in order to get an offer: following up. I will cover this important skill in Part 3 of this series on How to Get the Job You Want – stay tuned! (If you missed Part 1 on how to prepare for the interview, be sure to read it now.)