Are you nervous for an upcoming interview? The interview is one of the major reasons that determine whether or not you land the job. If you can interview strongly with confidence and poise, your chances of success are much higher. I am here to give you a few key pointers that will greatly improve your interview performance. Try to practice these with a friend if possible.
Know and Tell Your Story
Make sure you know the contents and flow of your resume. A common question is, “Tell me about yourself” or some variant of that. I recommend having a 90-120 second story about yourself that you can tell. This story should start chronologically at the beginning of your resume and end at the present moment. Make sure to include details about your previous roles and why you left. At the end, be sure to include why you are looking for a new job. There’s no right or wrong answer, but the tighter and more cohesive your story, the better your odds.
Voice and Body Language
If you are doing a phone interview, I recommend standing up to project your voice. In general, your voice should be calm, confident, and steady.
If you are doing an in-person interview, be aware that most of your communication is nonverbal. I had previously given advice on how to improve your body language and tone. Ideally, you want to be able to tell a great story and answer all your questions with poise while demonstrating confident body language.
STAR Interview Model
STAR stands for situation or task, actions, and results. It is a behavioral interview method. You can use the STAR technique to answer many questions that are given to you in a thorough, structured, and results-driven way. Later, I will write a post on the STAR interview method.
Have Three Key Accomplishments
This goes hand-in-hand with the STAR interview method. You can frame these accomplishments within a STAR framework and tweak it to the interviewer’s question. Having three key accomplishments in the back of your head also prevents you from stumbling during the interview trying to think up of something. The accomplishments don’t have to be work-related, they can be related to a volunteer project, community event, etc.
If you know yourself and why you made all the decisions you made, your answers should flow right out. After all, the interviewers are asking about you, and you are the foremost expert on yourself. There’s no need to memorize experiences or numbers, your responses regarding your work experience should flow out as easily as if someone asked you about where you grew up or what your childhood was like.
Know Three Strengths and Three Weaknesses
Know your three biggest strengths and weaknesses. You may be asked these questions directly, so you don’t want to stumble during the interview trying to think of your third weakness. Also, have direct examples to back up your strengths.
For your weaknesses, provide weaknesses that are not truly weaknesses. For example, you can say that you may be overly detail-oriented, since being detail-oriented isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After your provide your weakness, talk about how you have been working on improving those weaknesses. Managers want to see growth and self-awareness.
Do You Have Any Questions for Me?
At the end of the interview, your interviewer will usually save some time for any questions you may have. Always, always have a few questions in your back pocket. Make sure you have some good questions to show you are engaged and interested in the position. For example, you might ask something along the lines of “What are the most important qualities you are looking for in a candidate” or “What direction do you see your group going in the next five years.” You may also ask “Are there any other issues or concerns you may have about me that I can address right now?”
Thanking Your Interviewer
Shortly after your interview, make sure to follow up with a short thank you email. I suggest expressing gratitude to the interviewer for taking time out of her day.
Remember to always provide details and examples from your experience when answering questions. Also be sure to have a cohesive story to tell. The better prepared you are, the more confident you will come across during the interview.
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