No matter how qualified you are for a potential job, the interview can still be very nerve-racking. It’s an important part of the process. If it goes poorly, it can derail your chances; even if you would have been a great fit otherwise. To help prevent that from happening, we have some ideas on how you can ace your interview.
It’s natural to be nervous. You’re excited about the position, you want to make the best impression possible, and your mind is going a mile a minute. Find ways to calm yourself down. Nervousness is a bad look. If you want your interviewer to be confident in your abilities, you have to be confident in yourself first. You already got called in for an interview. That means they saw something in your resume or cover letter that made them think you would be good for the position. You’re coming in on a win.
If you’re looking for the best way to be relaxed, it’s to be prepared. Interviews are about getting to know who you are. Who knows who you are better than you? It is this line of thinking that can lead people to walk into an interview without the proper level of preparation and tank it. Yes, you know who you are, but this is a heightened circumstance, you want to put your best foot forward.
Know How to Answer the Questions
We all know the stock interview questions…
“Tell me a little bit about yourself.”
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
“What’s your biggest weakness?”
As it turns out, how you answer these questions is much more important than what your answer actually is. They know you are going to try to paint yourself in the best light. Why wouldn’t you? But, they don’t want to hear the stock answers that give them no real insight into who you are. If you’re ever asked “What’s your greatest weakness?” do not, I repeat, do not say that you’re a perfectionist. At this point, that answer is a joke.
What you should do is pick a real yet reasonable flaw and explain how you cope with it or what you’re doing to correct it. The interviewer doesn’t expect you to badmouth yourself. They just want to see how you respond a not so positive situation.
That’s the trick for all interview questions. Take the question, figure out to the best of your abilities why you think they are asking it, and craft your answer around that.
I’ll give you another example. When an interviewer asks you to tell them a bit about yourself, they don’t want you to just rattle off your resume. They probably have your resume in front of them. They could just read it if that was the case. So, what do they want to know? They want to know what about you and your life experiences makes you a good fit for their company? This is your chance to craft a story that is as focused on the company as it is about you.
Which sounds better?
“I went to Wherever University. Then, I was hired at Company A. A few years later, I decided to move on to Company B.” and so on.
“I learned this while doing that, which why I have so much to offer to the company’s such and such division.”
Be prepared, be practiced, but don’t be overly rehearsed. You are still going to have to be able to go with the flow. If you have cookie cutter answers for every question they throw at you, you could get lost in a sea of other applicants, when you should be trying to stand out. Not only that, if you’re overly rehearsed and they throw you a screwball question (designed for the very purpose of tripping you up) it will be that much harder for you to recover.
Curveball questions can be scary because you don’t know how you’re supposed to answer them. That’s the point. If an interviewer asks you something like “What kind of tree would you be?” they’re not expecting a “right” answer. Have fun with it. Make it an opportunity to show your personality. Try to relate your answer back to the job. Don’t be afraid of an absurd answer to an absurd premise. Be funny, be clever, be you.
Have Your Own Questions
Power dynamics being as they are, interviews can seem like interrogations; they’re not. It’s a two-way street. You’re there to see if it’s a good fit for you just as much as they are. Research the company before you come in. Prepare a list of questions you want to ask. Have follow-up questions for their answers. Even if you don’t really have any questions, coming up with a few thought-out inquiries will help you look like a more serious applicant.
Hopefully, this will help you with your next interview. It would be great if there was an easy blueprint to follow for guaranteed success. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. It’s all about bringing the best version of you to the forefront. The technique for doing so is different for everyone. Best of luck crafting yours!