Career & Education
10 Things You Must Do to Ace an Important Interview
So you have an important interview coming up. Congrats, you’ve made it to the next step in your job search process! Now you need to ace this. You’re clearly capable, or the company wouldn’t have asked to interview you in the first place. Prove that you truly belong with this company.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received about this process is that you need to show that you’re already prepared to take on this job. It’s like when you apply to college—schools want students who are already mature enough for college. Companies want to hire someone who already act like they deserve this position. You have that opportunity during an interview!
For more great tips on how you can ace an important interview, keep reading.
1. Research the Company
Just like you study for an exam, you need to study up for an important interview. Do your research—about half of interviewees don’t. Just taking fifteen minutes to learn more about the company will put you ahead. Start by thoroughly digging through their website. Read their “About Me” page, their mission statement, what projects they’re working on, everything. If it’s located in a city you’re not familiar with, learn more about the location too. As you learn more, you can narrow your focus to information that pertains to what your prospective job will be.
Researching the company is important for two reasons: answering questions and asking questions. You can cite specific information when answering the infamous question, “Why do you want this job?” you will impress the interviewer. It will also allow you to ask intelligent questions yourself. If you know who will be interviewing you, try to learn something about them too. This will impress them even more. Really, you almost can’t have a successful interview without doing research first.
2. Prepare Answers to Common Questions
While you will certainly be asked some questions that are tailored to the specific company and job you are applying for, there are many questions that come up in almost every important interview. Preparing answers to these questions will make you feel more at ease. It will also demonstrate that you take this interview and this job prospect seriously.
Here are some of the most common questions asked during an interview:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why should we hire you?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why are you qualified for this position?
- What is your biggest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- Why did you leave your previous job?
- What do you know about this position?
- What do you know about the company?
- Do you have any questions?
3. Practice Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a short speech, about 30 seconds long, that summarizes who you are, what you do, what your goals are. The idea is that if you met someone in an elevator you could deliver the pitch before you reach your desired floor.
It’s very likely that the first thing the interviewer will say is “Tell me about yourself.” This is when you deliver your elevator pitch. Concisely state your current occupation, your strongest skills, why you want the job, and what you hope to accomplish in the near future. Sound impossible? That’s why you need to practice! Start by listing out all the things you could possibly want to say. Look for redundancies and things that just aren’t as important as the others. Then write out everything in sentence form, as if you were going to say these words during an important interview. Read it out loud to see if it sounds the way you want it to. Nothing should feel forced or sales-y. You will probably have to tweak some things, but that’s why you’re doing this ahead of time!
4. Dress Smartly
Take the phrase “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” to heart. If possible, find out the company’s dress code (business casual versus business professional) without asking directly. You can probably pick up on the vibe based on what kind of company it is. This is yet another reason why research is so important. Knowing ahead of time what the dress code isn’t the be-all, end-all, however. When in doubt, dress in business professional clothes. It’s better to be a bit overdressed than not dressed up enough.
5. Calm Your Nerves
Being nervous during this important interview will hinder you from presenting your best self. Before you go, take some time to do an activity that relaxes you—whatever that may be. Then go over all your notes from the research and preparation you did, just to remind yourself how much information you have stored up in your brain.
6. Pay Attention to Your Body Language
People subconsciously respond to body language. If you cross your arms and legs, furrow your brow, and don’t make direct eye contact with someone, you will absolutely not come across as approachable. That is the opposite of what you want during an important interview! Be mindful of your body language from the moment you walk through the door of the building until the second you leave. You are being watched the entire time.
Here are some things you should definitely do so that your body language reflects confidence and friendliness:
- Make eye contact
- Have good posture
- Don’t cross your arms
- Don’t play with your hair or fidget
- Square your shoulders to the interviewer
7. Prepare Questions to Ask
Similar to preparing answers to common questions, you want to be prepared with your own questions to ask. Either during or at the end of the interview, you will almost certainly be given a chance to ask questions. Taking advantage of that does not make you sound unprepared or unknowledgeable; instead, it shows that you are genuinely interested in this company and the job.
Here is a list of great questions to ask your interviewer:
- What is your favorite thing about this company?
- What is your typical workday like?
- What do you love most about your job?
- What is your least favorite thing about your job?
- How did you come to hold this position?
- Why is this position open?
- How will I be evaluated during the first few months?
- What do you think makes this company better than the competition?
8. Speak With Proper Grammar
Using proper grammar during an important interview will automatically make you a more desirable candidate. Every company wants employees who will represent them well. Often, using improper grammar comes from overthinking and being nervous, so again, stay calm. Avoid saying “like” and “um.” Don’t speak in run-on sentences. Project an air of confidence and competence.
9. Think Globally
Talk about a cause that’s bigger than you. Everyone loves to meet someone who is passionate about something, and companies like to have employees who are engaged. Attach your personal aspirations to a global cause. This will show that you don’t want a job that will just help yourself, but rather one that will make the world better. Think about the issues that are important to you and compare that list with the functions of your prospective job. Bringing up these points of connection in the interview will be a huge plus for you.
10. Be Yourself
I know we’ve all heard this before. But it’s really true—you want to be yourself. Don’t act the way you think the interviewer or the company wants you to act. You don’t want to erase your personality. Chances are you will come across as inauthentic. If you do happen to get the job, then it might no be a good fit for you because you didn’t allow your true colors to show. Acting naturally will make the conversation flow better because you won’t be worried about how to manipulate your words to sound like someone else. You are great, and you can do this!
If you keep all these tips in mind before and during your important interview, you will be sure to ace it. The key is to prepare in every way you can think of so that you’re at ease when the big moment comes.