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How to Get Better at Job Interviews: Success Strategies

Feb 20, 2023
How to Get Better at Job Interviews: Success Strategies

When the time comes to interview for a new job, many variables can make or break how well you do. Talent and experience will get you a foot in the door, but what can you do to push that door open? Let's figure it out together!

Tips to Boost Your Job Interview SkillsBefore Your Interview

Preparation is an important part of the interviewing process that candidates often overlook. It's common for a first-time interviewee to start talking before realizing they need to do more homework. A little bit of preparation can go a long way toward preventing this unfortunate situation.

1. Research the industry and company

Do some research on the company and industry more broadly. Understand their business, who their competitors are, and what their mission statement is. This information will give you an idea of the company's expectations, how others succeed in their jobs, and how your skills can benefit the company. Don't spread yourself too thin by trying to learn everything there is to know about a dozen different markets. Instead, narrow your job search to just a few industries.

2. Identify your strengths and be ready to discuss them

Think of three to five selling points, such as why you're the best candidate for the position, and be ready to give specific examples of the skills you'll need to succeed in the role. The best demonstrations of your abilities are detailed and backed up by relevant examples. "I have excellent communication skills" is a broad statement that can apply to almost anyone. "I managed to resolve conflicts in our team by hosting weekly team meetings," on the other hand, is very specific and personal.

What can you do if you have trouble identifying your selling points? To start, you can make sure your skills and experience match those outlined in the job description, which brings us back to point one. 

3. Prepare yourself for typical job interview questions

Consider your age and current life circumstances to anticipate the types of questions that might come up. If you're wondering where to find the most common job interview questions and answers, check out our blog! We have a collection of interview questions for QAs, manual testers, and Python analysts.

4. Anticipate the interviewer's concerns and get ready for tricky questions

The pool of qualified job seekers is typically larger than the number of available positions, and interviews are a way to eliminate unsuitable candidates. That's why it's important to put yourself in the interviewer's shoes and consider the potential reasons that could prevent them from hiring you. This type of preparation makes you ready to defend yourself, saying something like, "I can understand why you would think I'm not well suited to this position, but I want you to know the reasons why I'm actually a very good candidate."

5. Be ready to handle personal and inappropriate questions

Sadly, not all interviewers know which questions they can and cannot ask, such as questions about gender, marital status, age, or sexual orientation. Plan ahead of time how you'll answer such questions without getting frustrated. You can say something like, "I'm not sure how that's relevant to my application," or answer the underlying question instead. Whether or not to work for a company whose hiring managers or other employees ask very personal or inappropriate questions is your decision.

6. Practice, practice, practice

Having an answer prepared in your head is one thing, but saying it out loud with confidence is another. No matter how coherent your thoughts seem, your first attempt may sound messy to everyone else. Practicing responses to common job interview questions out loud will help you develop better, more confident answers.

You might be wondering about the best ways to practice these responses. We recommend you get a few friends or family members to assist you so that you can speak out loud and won't mumble during your job interview.

During the interview 

Let's move on to the job interview and discuss how to act so that you make a positive first impression.

1. Arrive on time

Show your punctuality by arriving on time. That means you should get there 10 to 15 minutes before your scheduled interview. Failing to do so will give the impression that you don't value the interviewer's time and might be unreliable if hired.  

2. Bring a few copies of your resume

Always bring a copy of your resume with you, and make sure your papers are organized. Interviewers appreciate when candidates come prepared with a backup copy in case they forget the original. This preparation demonstrates that you are willing to go the extra mile. 

3. Prove that you are the best fit in the first five minutes

Remember that the interviewers have likely met many job applicants before you, so you'll need to stand out somehow. Studies suggest that interviewers form opinions of candidates within the first five minutes and then spend the rest of the time looking for evidence to back up their decision. Enter the interview with energy and enthusiasm, thank the interviewer for their time, and make a positive comment about the company—but nothing too cheesy.

4. Join the interviewer's team

Most of us treat job interviews as a competition in which we must outperform our rivals and ultimately win the favor of the interviewers. Think about taking a different approach and working toward a relationship where you and the interviewer are on the same team. Try saying something like, "I'm glad for this opportunity to learn more about your company, and to let you learn more about me, so we can see if this is going to be a good match or not."

5. Be confident and take charge of the interview

Long story short, your confidence is what employers remember when they're making decisions. In addition to evaluating an applicant's qualifications, interviewers consider how the applicant makes them feel. If you demonstrate a positive and professional attitude from the outset, you'll distinguish yourself from the competition.

6. Show the right body language

Besides listing your accomplishments, what can help create the impression that you're a confident person? Begin by greeting the interviewer with a handshake and a smile. During the interview, maintain eye contact, demonstrate good, open posture, and speak clearly. 

7. Listen attentively 

We often concentrate on our answers way too much, forgetting that a job interview is a dialogue, not a monologue. In other words, a job interview is just like any conversation involving two people exchanging ideas and building on each other's comments. Make an effort to be both a good speaker and a good listener. This way, you'll be able to respond completely and concisely while staying on topic. If you didn't hear or understand the question, ask for clarification or for the interviewer to rephrase the question. 

8. Tell the truth

If you want to land a job, it's in your best interest to be honest about your background and qualifications without exaggerating them. When you get a job, you'll have to prove these skills, and your own lies will haunt you.

9. Don't feel bad about being nervous

Though we've mentioned that confidence is essential, don't get us wrong: being nervous during job interviews is normal. It's okay to say that you're experiencing some level of stress. We're all people, and employers are no exception. However, with practice and experience, you will become more comfortable with the interviewing process. 

10. Finish on a good note

When an interview comes to a close, and you feel you'd be a good fit for the job, don't be shy about letting the interviewer know it. You could mention that you were already enthusiastic about the position before the job interview and that now you're completely sure you'd enjoy it. If you do this, the interviewer will see you as more likely to accept the offer if several equally qualified candidates remain at the end of the search. Kindly express your appreciation for their time and ask about the next steps. Then, leave with a handshake and a smile. 

After the Interview

Leaving the company's office is not the end of the story. Here are some tips for what to do next!

1. Send a thank you note

There is no such thing as a successful interview without a thank you note. If sent within 48 hours of the interview, this final step can make a difference. Thank an interviewer for their time and restate your enthusiasm for the position. However, to customize a thank you note, you'll need to take some time after each interview to jot down a few notes of what you discussed. 

2. Don't give up if you don't hear back after your first interview

Typically, you'll be invited to a second or even third interview before receiving an offer. If you had a bad experience, don't give up on yourself by lowering your standards for your next job application. Learn from your mistakes, review our advice, and practice ahead of time so that you absolutely nail your next interview!

Wrapping Up

The interview is one of the first "hoops" to jump through during the job application process. Those who perform well have a greater chance of being hired. Given that, it's not a good idea to come unprepared. Use our advice, put some time into preparation, and you'll walk into that next job interview more confident than ever.

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