Your CV blew your future employer away, you got an interview and now you need to ace it to get the job. Interviews can be quite intimidating, but in the end, success comes down to being well prepared, likable and confident.
Here are our top 11 tips for how to ace a job interview:
1. More knowledge = more confidence
You started the research process with a tailored application, now it’s time to up the ante: Find out about the company’s mission, achievements and milestones. Social media channels are as much of a must-read as profiles about the industry, the competition and the person you’re interviewing with. The more you know, the more empowered and confident you will feel.
2. Dress the part
Interview clothes should always look professional, be comfortable and make you feel confident. Find out what the company culture is like and how people dress before deciding on what you’ll wear (think suits for banks, something business casual for ad agencies etc.). And remember that if you never wear suits and want to wear one for the interview, practice wearing one in advance (you might end up looking and feeling uncomfortable otherwise.) Don’t forget to shine your shoes and make sure they don’t give you any blisters before you head out the door.
3. Master the warm-up questions…
You can bet money that you will have to tell the interviewer about yourself, why you should be hired and what your career goals are. Practice the answers but don’t sound like a broken record. Don’t just memorize your CV and basically read it out when asked to talk about yourself. It’s smart to use it as a reference point as your interviewer is likely to have it in front of them and to mention key events or points when appropriate, just make sure your answers always add something interesting to the story your CV already tells.
4. …and get ready for the tough ones
Why don’t you tell me about your weaknesses? Here’s how you score bonus points with tricky questions like these: Pick a weakness and elegantly turn it into a strength that relates to the job. “I’m a little impatient, but it’s simply because I like to finish projects on time and not disrupt the workflow of the whole team.” The key thing is, to be honest, and never ever answer with: “I have no weaknesses.”
5. Prepare for some brain-teasers
If you were a kitchen tool, which one would you be and why? These questions don’t always come up, but if they do, try to be relaxed and confident when answering them. They’re there to test you on your critical thinking skills and how well you think on your feet. Make sure to highlight your personality with your answer and make your answers as fun and interesting as you can (without being inappropriate, of course.) And what about that kitchen tool then? Consider an answer like this: I’m a can opener. Even though it’s not the first tool that comes to mind in the kitchen, it can be crucial for every course of the meal.
6. Know when to ask for a time-out
If you don’t know the answer to a question or you feel yourself panicking a little, take a deep breath and ask confidently and calmly if you can get back to the question later. Avoid rambling on and on and don’t let any panic show. It’s much better if you build up your confidence with some other (easier) questions and then return to this tougher one later. (Who knows, your interviewer might forget to ask it in the end anyway!) Word of warning though: Don’t rely on this too much and only skip questions if absolutely necessary; asking to skip a question too many times could make you seem unprepared.
7. Be honest
Gaps or detours in your CV are no reason to freak out. You got an interview, after all, so they clearly liked your profile and want to get to know you better. Be honest and explain what you learned during that time off (whatever the reason was) and how it will benefit you in the job you’re applying for; even a period of unemployment can be turned into an advantage if you used that time to develop yourself somehow and kept actively looking for work.
8. Avoid these
Don’t be late, rude or talk bad about your former bosses or colleagues. Lying, oversharing, making inappropriate jokes or dominating the conversation are other great ways to make a bad impression. Eating an onion sandwich on a poppy seed bun right before the interview might do the trick as well. If you show up on time, look presentable and come across as nice and sociable, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get off to a good start.
9. Always (always) have a question prepared
Questions are easy to prepare so never miss the opportunity to show off your critical thinking skills with gems such as “What speaks against hiring me?”. If there are any doubts or hesitation, this is your chance to clarify something about the job on offer and provide more information about yourself.
10. Actually, make that a smart question
Introduce your question with a personal bit of information and elegantly kill two birds with one stone: “I taught kids coding in summer camp. Would my role enable me to be involved in projects that give back to the community?”
11. Follow up like a boss
Last but definitely not least, always follow up with an email or even a handwritten card thanking your interviewer for the opportunity. It’s a good chance to quickly mention, once again, why you’re a good fit and how lovely it was to meet everyone. Keep it short, sweet and friendly, and remember to send it within 24 hours of your interview.
Good luck! We’re keeping our fingers crossed for you!