Woman sitting at job interview in office

The first reward of your job search is an interview.  Interviews are not easy to come by –the competition is fierce as you know.  So, if you’ve scored an invitation to interview, approach it with the greatest respect. Prepare for each interview as if it is your one and only chance for securing an employment opportunity.

Steps for a Stand-out Interview

  • Know your story. An interviewer often starts the conversation with some form of “walk me through your resume”. In other words, you need to be able to put the details of your resume into words.  Your overview should be succinct and interesting, and should align perfectly with your resume.  Don’t stumble, don’t ramble, and don’t create any disconnects.  There’s no excuse for not being ready to tell your story.
  • Research the company. Always allocate time to explore the company website, check out recent news stories and press releases, and research the people you’ll be talking to. Read biographical information about the leaders of the organization. Key in on the mission statement and phrases that describe the company’s strategy.  Reach out to people that work at the company to get a feel for what it’s like to work there. If you don’t know anyone, check out glassdoor.com. Other great resources include About us Wiki pages and Investopedia.  The more information the better – it shows that you care.  It’s out there – just make time to do a little digging.
  • Understand the role you’re applying for. Print out the job description. Practice verbalizing your strengths and how they align with the required skills.  Identify how other relevant experiences in your life have prepared you for the job.  To learn more about functions often associated with the role, check out sites like http://www.careerprofiles.info/business-careers.html.
  • Practice general interview questions. Interviewers often ask about your strengths and weaknesses, so be comfortable talking about them and framing them appropriately.  Other standard favorites include:
    • How would your colleagues describe you?
    • Give an example of situation in which there was conflict and how you resolved it.
    • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    • Why are you the best candidate for the job?

There’s no excuse for not being prepared with articulate and fluent answers, so do your homework.  Check out sites like http://www.yourcareerintel.com for more help with typical interview questions.

  • Practice makes perfect. Now that you know some of the standard questions, practice, practice, practice. Rehearse by reciting out loud — not in your head.  Ask a friend to ask you questions, listen to your responses, and give feedback.  Fine tune by watching yourself in a mirror.
  • Be ready with a question to ask. Recruiters or interviewers regularly ask if you have questions. Don’t be surprised, and always have two or three questions ready. No questions can sometimes be interpreted as little interest. Sample questions to consider include: “How did you get your start with the company”; “What has your experience at the company been like?”; “What is the growth potential in the position”?
  • Thank all involved. At the close of the interview, ensure you show your gratitude to all parties to the interview.  Look them in the eye, smile and express that the position is of great interest and you look forward to hearing from them.  If the recruiter doesn’t tell you about the timing of the next steps, be sure to ask when you can check back.   Then, follow-up with a written “thank-you”.  This extra personal touch is always appropriate, and you should take time to word it carefully and accurately.

You’ve already made your way into the “inner circle” by landing the interview, now go make it count!  Check back regularly for more insights on landing your ideal job or internship.