Updated: Aug 26
As a job hunter, you want to do everything you can to set yourself apart from the competition during interviews. Nearly a third of interviewers have decided if they will hire a candidate within 90 seconds of beginning the interview.
You don’t have much time, so you need to do what it takes succeed. The key to having a great interview is preparation. The following are essential preparation tips for making yourself stand out from the crowd in the interview process.
Know What You Bring to the Table
As cheesy at it sounds, you need to know your worth. When preparing for an interview or writing a resume, so much comes down to being able to effectively convey your strengths and abilities.
Make a list of your strengths. Really think about it. Make a list of soft skills (like leadership or communication) as well as more technical skills related to your industry or job. Record past accomplishments as well as skills you have developed over your career.
Once you have developed an exhaustive list, rank which items you would consider to be the most significant. This list of strengths, skills, and accomplishments will be extremely helpful as you create or revise your resume and begin to craft your interview question responses. Start to think of stories or examples from your life and career that relate to the most significant points on your list.
Do Your Research
Research the company and your interviewer. Be sure to focus on finding information about the business that could be beneficial during your interview. Understand the company’s core purpose and values as well as what the business does. Having a basic understanding of these things is crucial to being (and appearing) well-informed during your interview. This is something that can make or break a good interview.
Here are some of the best places to look for information on the company:
· Their website
· Social Media
Beyond this list, an excellent resource is your network. If someone referred you to the position, ask them to tell you a little bit more about the company. If you know someone who works at the company, run some questions by them. The internet has great resources available, but the additional bonuses from a real-life perspective will be tremendously helpful.
While you might not always have access to the name of your interviewer, it is very beneficial to have some background on your interviewer when you can. A surprising percentage of recruiters and hiring managers use social media to look up job candidates, so why shouldn’t you do the same? Do your due diligence to ensure that you come to the interview with the knowledge and awareness you need to succeed.
Craft Your Responses
Once you’ve identified your strengths and understand the company you are interviewing for, you should begin to develop your answers to common interview questions. As you start to think of how to respond to questions, begin with the end in mind by focusing on results.
Use the company’s values. These are excellent in forming a well-educated response that shows that you care about what matters to the company. The key in your interview question responses is that you appear prepared and confident. Using what you researched about the company as well as the strengths that you identified previously will be vital.
One of the most beneficial methods of interview preparation is practicing the STAR method. This is a powerful interview question answering method. The graphic below shows a simple walk-through of the basics of using the STAR method. Essentially, the STAR method sets up a story, describes what your goal or task was, explains what you did to meet and accomplish it, and then shows the results. It is a great way to display all the crucial details in a story.
Ask the Right Questions
Asking questions is a crucial piece of an interview. Questions show more about you than you might predict. Good questions represent thoughtful preparation and attentiveness. Perhaps more importantly, they show your genuine interest in the job.
Time and time again, people lose opportunities because they do not express passion for the job. Being curious is an easy way to show your true interest in the position. As you prepare for the interview, write up a list of several questions that you would like to know about the company.
Here are some excellent questions to ask in an interview:
· What does the day-to-day look like in this role?
· What is the most rewarding project you have worked on so far?
· How would you describe the culture of the company?
· What skills does a candidate need to perform well in this role?
· What are the biggest challenges with this position?
· What is your favorite part about this role?
Dress the Part
When it comes to your interview, you need to dress for the occasion. As a general rule, you should always dress a little nicer than your interviewer. This shows that you are prepared and truly care about the company.
Do a little more research to know the dress code of the company. Look on the company website or an external site that mentions the dress at the company. If you know someone who works there, ask them. It is crucial to understand the culture and appropriate dress style before showing up for your interview.
Here are additional interview outfit tips that can help as you work on the perfect interview outfit.
BONUS: Start Doing the Job
While beginning the job before you have it might sound like you are going overboard, this extra level of preparation can be pivotal in a competitive interview pool. It is likely best to save this method until a second or third round interview once you understand more about the company, what their needs are, and what they are hoping to accomplish.
Prepare a list of potential suggestions for the organization that could make a significant impact. This is a great way to prove what kind of value you can add to the company. Come with a 30-60-90 plan. This is a plan that lays out what you will accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days of your employment with the company. Think of ways that you can make the life of your potential employer easier.
As you follow these steps during your interview preparation, be sure to keep the end goal in mind. Don’t get caught up on any of these tips. Use them to prepare and make yourself more confident so you can shine in your interview and land the job. You will nail your interview.