4 Keys to Acing Your Job Interview
Getting a degree can often feel like a series of hurdles. First, the application. Second, the interview. Third, the classwork. And fourth, the internship. But if you are about to interview for jobs, you’re in the final stretch! As with any race, it’s important to finish strong. Don’t slack off and let all the hard work you’ve put in up until this point go to waste.
Securing your ideal job after graduation requires two main steps:
2. Convincing the company that you’re the best person for the job (because you are).
As a recent (or soon-to-be) graduate, this process should sound familiar to you. After all, wasn’t the application process all about identifying your perfect program and then working to get accepted?
In reality, securing a great job after graduation is similar to the application process (just without the essays). Not only will you need to craft an outstanding resume, impress during interviews, and meet their qualifications, you also must demonstrate who you are and why you’ll be a valuable addition to their team.
Our best advice for securing a job is the same advice for getting into school…
1. Be Authentic.
Much like the way you presented your true self in your applications, you also want to be your true (professional) self in your job interview.
Before you even apply for a position, ask yourself the following questions:
What makes me a great candidate? What are my strengths? What am I passionate about?
Understanding this information before you apply will help you stand out among other candidates. Be sure to tailor your resume accordingly to fit the needs of each individual position. Then, once you’ve secured an interview, review these questions again as they are sure to come up in-person.
Before your interview, prepare a few examples of times where you’ve led a team, faced a challenge, and had to use skills necessary for the role you’re interviewing for. If the company has a reputation for hiring a specific type of candidate, do your best to show that you have those same traits, even if they’re transferrable.
For example: If the company hires a lot of former engineers but you don’t have an engineering degree, find examples from your background in which you displayed critical or analytical thinking and solved problems.
Again, like in your school applications and interviews, don’t leave your personality at home! There are sure to be many equally qualified applicants for any position you apply for so it is your personality that will be the real differentiator. The best work environments are full of likable people, so be sure to infuse your application and interview with liveliness and personal (yet relevant) anecdotes.
Before you interview, get a feel for the types of personalities that work at the company by looking at their social media accounts. Twitter is a great resource for this as you’ll get a clear picture of how the company interacts with others and also how the employees conduct themselves online. This is an excellent way to get a peek into the work culture and to stay up to date on company happenings so you are in the know when it’s time to interview... which leads us to our next key to acing your job interview...
2. Do Your Research.
After all the time you put into researching different schools, you probably have a handle on the best ways to dig up valuable information about career opportunities and potential employers. Along with poking around their social media profiles, consult the company website and maybe even the professional blogs of their employers. Not only will this ensure you impress at the interview, it will also help you find your dream position.
In truth, finding the perfect post-grad position is more than assessing location, pay, and job description. It’s about finding the job that will be fulfilling and well-suited to your skills… and then figuring out the best way to convince the hiring team that you’re the best person for the job.
Throughout the process of researching jobs and preparing your application, ask yourself the following:
Which values does the company uphold that resonate with me?
What skills have I used in my past jobs that are transferable to the role I’m applying to?
What about this role inspires me and how will my passion benefit the company?
Evaluate your answers to these questions before you apply and again before you walk in to your interview. Be sure you are clear on the reasons you are applying so you are able to clearly express your motivations and qualifications. Not only will this ensure you secure a fulfilling job, it’ll show your interviewer(s) that you are serious about working for their company.
3. Leave Room for Questions.
While it’s true that you want to do plenty of research before you apply and interview, you also want to show continued interest in the company by asking knowledgeable questions when the interviewer will inevitably ask, “Do you have any questions?”
Oftentimes, interviewees use this question as a sign that the interview is coming to a close, but in the most successful interviews it’s actually a signal that it’s time for the conversation to switch gears. If you do your research ahead of time, you’re guaranteed to have a couple questions that you weren’t able to answer for yourself by reading the company website.
If the company was recently in an article or announced big news, your question can be related to that. If there isn't anything newsworthy to draw from, ask a question about work/life balance or the typical day-to-day of the role.
As a rule: It's always a good idea to ask a question at the end of the interview as long as you make sure it has some substance.
4. Be Confident.
After all the time you spent in preparation, don’t blow it by being too nervous to let your personality shine. Smile, remember your interviewer’s name, and wait for them to extend their hand before initiating a handshake.
Throughout the interview, keep your answers to the point while inserting examples of your experience, areas of improvement, and valuable skills that you prepared ahead of time. Keep any stories succinct and to the point by leaving out irrelevant details (like the day of the week or the names of all your co-workers).
Sit up straight, speak clearly, and use positive eye contact (i.e., look them in the eye but don’t stare).
After you’ve asked thoughtful questions and the interview commences, thank the interviewer and express your interest in the position again.
Above all, walk into your interview with a clear understanding of what you can do for the company and communicate that message with confidence, excitement, and earnestness. Be yourself and show them why you’re the best person for the job!