Over the last year I’ve done a whole bunch of research on the art of the interview. Some of that was in reading just about anything I could get my hands on, and some of it was in, let’s say, “case studies”. Listed below are some of the most beneficial concepts I’ve found when preparing for and executing an exceptional interview.
1. Craft a memorable opening statement. Often, the question that interviewees fear the most is the first one where one of the interviewers ask, “Tell us about yourself”. It’s daunting because it’s somewhat ambiguous and it could lead to almost anything – and this is actually the benefit of it. This is the one moment where you, as the question answerer, get to steer the content of the conversation. It’s possible that the interviewers will never ask specific enough questions which will give you a chance to point out what your greatest strengths for the position are. Here is where you can get out ahead and tell them why you should have the job before they even ask. Don’t tell them what they already know from reading your resume. Tell them about your strengths, passions and expertise.
2. Show fire in the eye. That is, show lots of positive enthusiasm for the job. This is easiest to do when you’re interviewing for jobs for which you have a great deal of positive enthusiasm, so you can help yourself and make this one really easy by applying only for jobs that you’d actually be good at, and enjoy.
3. Relate previous experience. If you’re looking at a position that’s the same or similar to your current one, this is a no-brainier. But, if you’re like most people, and are looking at a job that’s either slightly or largely different than your current one, you’re going to need to pull experiences from your current or previous jobs and apply that experience to the prospective position in order to show that your past has prepared you for the job you’re now seeking to undertake. These days, people seem to be interested in experience more than just about anything else. Spend plenty of time in advance deciding how you will demonstrate how you have the experience necessary to make a great fit for the job.
4. Ask thoughtful questions. Most of the time, your interviewers will give you a chance to ask questions. Look at this as another question they’re asking of you, for which you need to prepare. When they ask if you have any questions, what they’re really asking is, “Have you given any quality thought to how you might succeed in this position”? Don’t just ask about the timeline. Ask questions to show your expertise and ability to intelligently engage with the assignment.
5. Do your research. Look into the organization. What’s their mission statement? What’s their history? Their vision? Their culture? How do they define success? Is there a book out there that they encourage all of their staff to read? Read it. Also, if you can, try to find out about the interviewers. If you ask, they’ll usually tell you who will be interviewing you. Use your contacts, if you have them, or research skills to get a little background of your interviewers.
6. Filter your social media posts. Guess what? If you’re on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., people are checking you out. Don’t say stupid or controversial stuff on these sites while you’re interviewing for a new job (or after you’re hired). They’re going to be interested to see how you’d represent them if you joined their staff. This is a pretty good way to find out. Filter.
What else is there? What are some important concepts that you’ve found to help you interview well?