Do your research.
Interviewing prospective employees can be a very arduous process for those responsible for hiring. Show that you respect their time by spending some time of your own getting to know the company and the position you are interviewing for. When and by whom was the company founded? What is its mission, and has that mission changed over time? What duties and responsibilities does your position entail? Try to answer all of these questions before arriving.
Bring in questions you want answered.
Almost every interview has a part at the end where you are offered the chance to ask questions of your own. It might be tempting to ask no further questions, hoping to indicate that you understand everything that has been said and aren’t confused. But interviewers like to see enthusiasm from their interviewees, and that usually comes in the form of probing questions. Try to come up with at least five questions that you need answered (salary, time off, etc.) as well as a couple that would be interesting to know (“How did you end up here?”) in case all of your essential questions are answered during the bulk of the interview.
Be prepared for questions they want answered.
One of the most common questions is, “What are your greatest strengths?” Tie your answer to the job description. “As an editor, I’m obsessed with AP style and fact-checking, without destroying the author’s voice,” or, “I love to keep learning new technologies,” etc. Likewise, when answering, “What is your greatest weakness?” make sure it’s really a strength, like you tend to be early or stay late to ensure you get the job done. Questions about salary and benefits are not always discussed at a first interview. That is the time to ensure you know you are there to make your boss’s life easier to complete the mission/vision/task laid out before you.
Prepare examples ahead of time.
It is very likely that you will be asked to provide examples of times you worked well in a team to accomplish a challenging task, overcame a conflict with a coworker or subordinate, or responded to a customer complaint. Don’t try to come up with these off the top of your head. You might completely blank, or you might use the first example you think while overlooking a much better one.
Try to be memorable.
You may think your résumé and experience are strong, but chances are that many candidates are equally qualified, if not more so. Considering how many candidates most interviewers speak with, it’s important that you stick out. Remember that the point of a résumé and cover letter is to get the interview. The point of an interview is to get called back for your references, and a second interview is reserved for top candidates… or a job offer. At that point, you may be able to negotiate if a range of salaries offered depending on your skills and experience. Determine what makes you unique and try to incorporate this into the first interview, even if it seems unrelated. Are you fluent in Dutch? Do you raise miniature pigs? Having a unique skill, hobby, or life experience may not make you more qualified, but it will make you more memorable.
While you certainly want to remain professional, you’re not giving a deposition, so try to relax. Smile, laugh, and make eye contact. This will make you appear confident in yourself, which will inspire others to have confidence in you as well. Before your interview, take some deep breaths, remind yourself how great of a candidate you are, and nail that interview!
By Dalana Quintana