Ding! The sound of your email alert rings out. As you open up your inbox, you find an interview request for that exciting position you applied for the other day. A rush of excitement floods over you as you muse over the possibilities. Moments later, the all-too-familiar feeling of “interview dread” takes over. Sound about right?
It’s no surprise that most people have a love-hate relationship with interviewing. Getting an interview is the first sign of interest from the company, and in most cases, the gateway to landing a job. On the other hand, getting into the hot seat is an intimidating process that can send even the most capable candidates into a nervous frenzy. The pressure to present yourself in the best light can feel overwhelming, especially if your dream job hangs in the balance.
Thankfully, you can put yourself in the best position for success with some thoughtful preparation. As a staffing agency with 20 years in the industry, interviews are a part of our day-to-day. Today, we’re here to share with you some of our best practices that will take you straight from “candidate” to “new hire”.
Without further ado, here are our tips to win your next interview:
Research the Company Beforehand
Researching the company website seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to make sure you’re delving deeper than the products/services page. Read up on the company’s mission statement and corporate values. How do these values align with your own? This will help you get a sense for what the leadership is looking for, and how the company aims to position itself. Reading up on the company’s press releases will help you get up to speed with recent developments, and it’s a surefire way to impress your interviewer. Be able to identify who the leaders are within the company, and conduct a LinkedIn search to find out more about the hiring manager. Who knows—you just might find areas of common interest in your backgrounds that can help you develop a friendly rapport.
In researching areas like company culture, Glassdoor’s employee reviews are a great resource for gathering unfiltered insight into company dynamics behind closed doors. In many cases, you will also be able to gain insight into the interview process, along with helpful tips on what to expect from anonymous interviewees. Whether it’s tipping you off that you’ll need to role-play an elevator pitch for a sales position or demonstrate your programming expertise through a coding interview, the feedback you find can help you better prepare for whatever tests may come your way.
Prepare for Traditional and Behavioral Interview Questions
As a commonly used line of questioning, traditional interview questions are very direct and are geared towards testing the interviewer. In coming up with your answers, be sure to keep your responses relevant to the position you’re applying for, and take the opportunity to highlight your strengths. Here are some frequently asked traditional interview questions:
• Why do you want this job?
• What motivates you to go the extra mile?
• Why should we hire you?
• How would a good friend describe you?
Behavioral Interview questions are designed to assess your fit for the position based on your previous work experiences. These questions enable you to speak to your skill set and personality with anecdotal responses. This is a great opportunity to highlight examples of your resourcefulness, interpersonal skills, your resilience, and integrity. Here are some frequently asked behavioral interview questions:
• Describe a conflict you had with a colleague. How did you handle the situation?
• Tell me about a mistake you made at work. How did you deal with it?
• Tell me about some of your recent goals. What did you do to achieve them?
Remember: stress is just pressure without a plan. Drill down these questions with a friend, or in front of a mirror. By doing your due diligence in practicing how to answer traditional and behavioral interview questions, your preparation will help you walk into your interview with confidence.
Prepare Questions to Ask The Interviewer
Prior to the interview, come up with thoughtful questions about the company and the position. Questions will likely come up organically in the course of the interview, but it’s good to have a prepared set of questions ready to go. Remember, you’re interviewing the company as well to see if this position is a good fit for you, and the hiring manager will be gauging whether you have a genuine interest in the opportunity.
Here are some questions we’d recommend asking:
• What do you consider to be the most important aspects of this job?
• What qualities are most important for succeeding in this role?
• What is the career path in this department?
• Where do you see the company heading in the next 5 years?
Let Your Personality Shine Through
Sure, experiencing some nerves is completely natural in an interview environment. You want to present yourself as polished, poised and prepared. What you don’t want to forget though, is to let your personality shine through. After all, your interviewer is looking to find someone who is not only qualified—but someone whom they would enjoy working alongside. Stay professional, but don’t be afraid to find moments of levity. You’re human, after all! Build rapport when the opportunity presents itself, and avoid sounding scripted (don’t memorize your answers, just the bullet points!). At the end of the day, putting your best foot forward should still be a reflection of your authentic self.
Best of luck on your big day! Download our Interview Prep Guide for more interview tips and tricks.