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Congratulations! You just got a call for a job interview and you’re ecstatic and nervous at the same time.
Don’t get worried.
It’s normal to feel this way, especially if it’s your first job interview.
Job interviews may sound intimidating but they really are not if you plan ahead and practice.
And this article will walk you through your planning and preparation with effective job interview tips and tricks to help you land the job.
We’ll cover everything from what to say and not say during a job interview to planning for your interview so you will be ready and stress free.
We will also cover how to make sure your body language is positive too.
Without further ado, let’s move ahead with tips on how to ace a job interview.
How To Ace A Job Interview
Job Interview Preparation
After accepting an interview, you need to prepare for it before the day arrives.
Job interview preparation is arguably one of the most important parts of the process.
Here are tips and tricks for how you can prepare for a job interview.
#1. Understand The Type Of Interview
There are a few different types of interviews you can have. Knowing what type you are having will help you prepare.
For example, are you having a casual interview or formal interview?
A casual interview is usually just a feeling out lunch or dinner interview. There will be no offer of a job during this time.
It is more to see if there is a mutual fit between both parties.
These are most common when you have a connection within the company and they would like to bring you on board, but don’t have a specific opening.
By having a conversation, it will help them to determine a good fit for you.
A formal interview is what most people are used to.
You go to the business and have a traditional interview for a specific position that you applied for.
But there are many variations of formal interviews. Here are the most common.
- Internal Interview. This is when you apply for another position within the company. In this interview, dressing up is usually not required.
- Group Interview. This is when you are being interviewed by a group of people, usually 2-3 people at the same time for a position. Some companies schedule this type of interview to save time and money. Instead of having 3 separate interviews, you just have one.
- Phone Interview. Many companies are turning to phone interviews for the initial interview. This is a low cost and easy way to narrow the field of potential candidates down. If you succeed here, you likely will be called in for another interview.
- Video Interview. Some companies are replacing the phone interview with video interviews. Again, this allows them to quickly interview a number of candidates before having more formal interviews.
- Out Of Office Interview. This is the rarest type of interview. Instead of going to the business for your interview, you meet off site. This could be done for security reasons depending on the type of business.
Because of the many different types of interviews, you need to know what type you are having so you can best prepare.
#2. Research The Company
This is the most critical step of the job interview preparation process.
Get down to researching the company so that you are well aware of what to expect on the day of the actual interview.
This is very important because 47% of interviewers wouldn’t offer the job to a candidate who is not well aware of the company.
You need to know the company’s background, what they do, and who their competitors are as you may be asked questions related to the company.
The interviewer would like to know how serious you are and how much research you have done, so be prepared.
Other than this, make sure you know the business address so that you have no trouble in finding the location of the office.
Also know where you need to go once inside, which may add to the stress on the day of the interview.
#3. Know Everything About The Job Posting
You should understand the job post that you’ve applied for and the skills you will need to do it well.
This will help you know what to highlight during the interview.
Knowing what the hiring manager is interested in can increase your chances of finding success.
According to reports, 36% of employers need employees with multitasking skills, about 31% look for initiative, and 21% need employees with creative thinking skills.
So sit down and think how you can highlight such skills during the interview.
The best way is to share real-life experiences and highlight where you took initiatives.
Employers love listening to experiences as it shows that you have the skills needed.
#4. Double Check All The Details
Make sure you’re well aware of the job description so that there are no surprises on the day of the interview.
Also, be sure of the scheduled date and time, as even a little bit of confusion can ruin the day.
Be sure to take into account traffic at the time you plan to leave for the interview as well.
If you’re not sure about the interview, make sure to call or email the company to ask any questions you have.
Again, the more information you have and the fewer questions you have about the actual interview, the more confident you will be walking in the door.
#5. Find Your Documents
The interviewer may want to look at your past work history and educational background so make sure to find all relevant documents beforehand.
Bring extra copies of your resume to hand out. You never know when someone else might stop in for the interview.
One time when I was interviewing for a position, it came to light that another position might be a better fit.
The interviewer had the other department manager come in to interview me.
She didn’t have a copy of my resume, so it was important that I had extra copies.
Be sure to also bring a list of references.
This is should be a short list of both personal and professional contacts who can attest to your character and work ethic.
#6. Review Common Interview Questions
There are a handful of common interview questions and answers you should expect to be asked.
Some common questions asked during a job interview include:
- Tell me about yourself?
- Why should we hire you for this job?
- Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
- Why did you choose to apply for this job?
The right answers to these questions are honest answers that put you in a good light and show you are committed to the position.
Practice with a few variations for each question and then settle on a final version and practice it repeatedly.
The catch here is to make your answers seem natural. The key lies in sounding positive but not overly rehearsed.
Also, be clear about your willingness and expectations as the interviewer may also ask you if you’re willing to move or shift for the job.
I go into more detail about interview questions and answers in a later section.
#7. Practice A Lot
It’s natural to be nervous before the interview.
A very good way to beat this nervousness is to role play.
You may seek help from one of your friends and put yourself in an interview-like situation.
He or she may ask you questions so you can get in the grind.
If you’re wondering how to ace a job interview if you are shy then you may even try the mirror technique.
It involves standing in front of a mirror and answering questions while judging your own body language and skills.
You may also record yourself and watch the clip to judge where you’re going wrong and work on the shortcomings.
But, make sure not to be too harsh on yourself.
I know of one person who made it a point to role play before interviews.
In one case, his friend noticed when he was nervous, he cracked his knuckles a lot.
Having this information was important, as he was able to remind himself to not crack his knuckles during the interview process.
#8. Think About Your Past
More and more companies are turning to behavioral interviewing techniques to screen candidates.
More specifically, they use behavior based interviewing. This involves using past performance to predict future performance.
Since we are creatures of habit, chances are if you are put into the same situation a number of times, you will handle the same way each time.
Because of this, interviewers will ask you about tough situations in your past and how you handled it.
Or they will ask you how you solved issues with co-workers.
Take the time to think about your work history. What were difficult experiences and how did you handle them?
If you didn’t handle the situation well, be honest about it. Then talk about why you reacted the way you did and how you would handle it differently next time.
#9. Keep Your Outfit And Devices Ready
Take care of your outfit.
You should ideally wear something that’s professional and fits you well.
The most important thing is to look presentable and suitable for the job you’ve applied for.
About 70% of employers agree that they don’t need the employee to look fashionable but they do want the employee to look presentable.
There’s no harm in inquiring about the dress code.
After all, 71% of employees will most probably reject you if you’re not appropriately dressed.
When it comes to your actual outfit, it is best to plan ahead.
Pick out your outfit days in advance so you are not stressed with wondering what to wear.
Pick an outfit that is classic and you feel confident in.
And be aware of the colors you are choosing.
Research has shown that employers associate orange with unprofessionalism. So stay away from this color.
Instead stick to more neutral colors life navy, black, white, brown, and grey.
And here is a final tip.
To stand out from others and make a great impression, make your eyes stand out.
For example, if you have green eyes, where a tie with some green in it or wear jewelry with green.
This will bring out your eye color and grab the attention of the interviewer.
Finally, if you are doing a phone or video interview, make sure your devices are ready.
Fully charge your electronics. Find a well lit and quiet place to talk.
And most importantly, make sure your computer video and audio are working.
To do this, simply have a Skype call with a friend. The last thing you want is a technology problem ruining your interview.
#10. Get Off From Work
If you already have a job and have an interview with another company, ask for a day off or half day to make sure there are no scheduling conflicts.
Ideally, you want to take the full day off.
This will allow you to completely focus on the interview.
Plus, it might look weird if you walk into work dressed up for a half day when you typically dress business casual.
Day Of Job Interview Tips
Finally, it’s the day of the interview.
Here’s what you should do on this day for interview success and to increase your chances of being hired.
#1. Be Neat And Be On Time
About 47% of employers will not entertain you if you are late for the interview.
So make sure to be on time and try to arrive there at least 10-15 minutes before the scheduled time so that you have enough time to get comfortable.
Also, make sure to shower and look hygienic. Wear a nice perfume, too.
If you’re running late, call the company and request to reschedule the interview.
Depending on how late you are running, they may have you still come in for the interview.
In other cases, they may want to reschedule your interview for another day.
#2. Avoid Stress And Stay Calm
It is okay to feel anxious and excited. Do not let stress affect your performance.
On the day of the interview, instead of trying to control it, just accept that you’re stressed and you’ll be able to perform better.
New research from Harvard University suggests that convincing yourself that you’re excited is a better way to control stress than to try to fight it.
#3.Turn Off Your Cell Phone
One of the biggest mistake’s interviewees make that ends their chances for the job is not turning off their cell phone before the interview.
Being interrupted or even stopping to reply to a text or answer your phone is a big no-no and will get you disqualified immediately.
But what if you need to answer the phone?
The only valid cases are if your spouse is due to go into labor any moment or a loved one is getting major surgery.
In either of these cases, simply mention this to the interviewer beforehand so they know you might need to take a call.
#4. Greet The Interviewer And Ask Questions
It’s important to look happy and interesting.
Control your body language and greet the interview with a hello and a firm handshake when possible.
About 33% of employers make the hiring decision within the first 90 seconds based on how you enter the room, sit, and start the conversation.
In fact, about 50% of employers will reject you if you don’t greet them nicely. So make sure to be polite.
Moreover, ask questions regarding the job to show interest in the position you’ve applied for.
About 44% of employers will reject you if you don’t ask questions at all.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should start to ask irrelevant questions just for the sake of it.
Your questions should be relevant and to the point.
#5. Smile And Be Confident
Your smile shows how happy and confident you are, so make it a habit to smile during the interview but without making it look too awkward.
Your smile should not appear forced.
About 40% of employers agree that a lack of smile is a good reason to reject a candidate.
This is because people who smile less are usually considered rude and hard to mingle with and most companies would not like to hire such an employee.
Other than this, make sure to be confident.
Your body language can play an important role in this regard.
About 20% of interviewers will reject you if you sit with your arms folded as it is a sign of a lack of confidence.
Some other negative body language signs include biting your nails, not looking the interviewer in the eye, scratching yourself, tapping your foot, cracking your knuckles, etc.
You must control all such habits and sit straight with a good posture.
Look at the interviewer directly and answer all questions in a nice and firm manner.
#6. Be Nice, Honest, And Articulate
It’s very important to be nice during the interview.
Businesses want to hire candidates who can mingle with others and help maintain a productive work environment.
About 76% of employers will reject you if they find you rude or arrogant. They usually judge it based on how you talk and behave.
If you speak loudly or aggressively then you will most probably be considered rude and unfit.
Other than this, be honest about your experiences.
Almost 90% of employers will reject you if they find you lying about anything, including your previous experience.
They also judge your loyalty based on how you talk about your current or past employers.
About 81% of hiring managers will reject you if you talk ill about your previous employees.
You need to choose your words very carefully.
Even if you’re not happy with your current employer, be honest but be nice.
So even if your current job is hell, try to frame it in a positive light. Say something to the effect of you wanting a new challenge.
How To Ace An Interview Questions And Answers
The scariest part of the interview for many is the questions.
Many fear that one wrong answer will disqualify them from the job.
The truth is, this is not usually the case.
As long as you make a great impression, your answers take on a little less importance.
This doesn’t mean you can answer them all wrong and still get the job.
Here is an example of what I mean.
If you walk into an interview dressed nicely, smiling and friendly, you put the interviewer at ease.
They instantly like you and will frame your answers in a more positive way.
But if you walk in dressed poorly and have a bad attitude, your interview answers will be spun negatively.
So while answering interview questions well is important, it is only one part of the entire interview process.
With that said, here is how to handle tough interview questions.
Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?
This question trips many applicants up because it invites them to talk bad about their previous employer.
Don’t do this.
Instead talk about how your past company was great, but this company and role in particular is a great fit and you are excited for the challenge.
What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
This is a trick question many fall for.
They want to project a strong vision of themselves, so they settle on they have no weaknesses.
This is not true and a red flag.
The reason this question is asked is because the interviewer wants to see how humble you are and your ability to admit mistakes.
So come up with a weakness or two that you can work on.
For example, maybe you multi-task too much or you don’t network enough.
These show you are humble and they are easy to fix.
Do You Have Any Questions For Me?
While it is important to ask questions specific about the job, be sure to also ask questions about the company as a whole and the culture.
This shows you truly are interested in the position.
In fact, my favorite question to ask is how my role will drive the company mission forward.
Tell Me About A Time When You Disagreed With Your Boss.
This is a scary question for many.
But like the one above about your weakness, it is just to see how you are as a person.
You can disagree with your boss and still have a strong relationship with them.
So be sure to go into detail about the issue and how you handled it.
Don’t shy away from it.
Interview Follow Up Tips
Your work does not end once the interview is over if you really wish to land the job. Here’s what to do.
#1. Send A Thank You Note
Write a small thank you letter to appreciate the interviewer for their time and effort.
This will help them know that you’re still interested in the job.
Plus, try to compliment the interviewer without sounding forced.
By complimenting the interviewer, you can increase your chances of being hired.
Statements such as ‘I got to learn a lot today’, ‘Would love to work with you’ can be enough.
#2. Follow Up
It may take about five to six weeks to get a job offer.
You should ideally be patient and send a follow-up email after a period of two to three weeks to ask for an update on the job.
Do not spam them with multiple phone calls or emails.
Keep the email or phone call short just to reiterate the fact that you want the job.
Psychological Interview Techniques
There are the basics for how to ace a job interview.
But there are some other tips that most people don’t talk about, including some common interview mistakes.
These are all classified as psychological interview techniques and you should keep them in mind when preparing for your interview.
After all, they could be the difference between getting a job offer and not.
#1. If the interviewer lets you schedule the interview then choose a time keeping his or her schedule in mind and not yours.
Avoid early mornings since the interviewer may be too occupied or cranky during the early part of the day.
Same goes for late evenings. According to experts, 10:30 AM on a Tuesday is the best time for an interview.
#2. Avoid going for an interview on a day when the company has several interviews lined up.
This is because the interviewer may subconsciously compare you with others and lessen your chances.
This can be a real problem if your interview is scheduled for the latter part of the day.
#3. Answer keeping the interviewer’s age in mind.
Young interviewers are usually interested in visual elements and seniors want to know more about loyalty and hard work.
With this in mind, try to frame your answers in ways the interviewer will understand.
#4. Connect with the interviewer by finding a common ground.
According to the similarity-attraction hypothesis, we tend to like people who are similar to us in their likes and dislikes.
This simple trick can increase your chances of finding success but make sure to not get carried away.
#5. Mirror your interviewer’s body language.
If you are concerned with your body language sending the wrong signals, simply mirror what your interviewer is doing.
To start the interview, sit up straight, smile, and look them in the eye.
As the interview continues, if they lean back in a more comfortable position, so should you.
#6. Talk loud and proud.
This isn’t to say you should be yelling during your interview.
But most people when scared or anxious speak softly and slowly.
This leads to awkward pauses, and filler works like ‘um’ and ‘like’.
The more loudly and confident you speak, the better impression you will make.
#7. Be Excited.
No one wants to hire someone who isn’t excited about a job.
So be sure to show your enthusiasm about the job and the company.
Just be sure to make it look natural and not forced.
#8. Highlight your work ethic.
On many resumes and in many interviews, people talk about how much revenue they brought in or other signs of achievement.
These are great things, but don’t overlook telling the story about how you got there.
People love stories.
And while selling millions worth of a product is amazing, what is more amazing is the story behind it.
Talk about any struggles you faced along the way, or how much work went into maintaining that level of performance.
These details can be the difference between getting the job and not.
#9. Ask the interviewer why they brought you in for an interview.
This is a great psychological technique that forces the interviewer to talk about you in a positive light.
They will say all the reasons why they think you are a strong candidate and why they see you as a fit.
After the interview, they will be reminded of how much they like you because this question forced them to think about your positives.
And in the chance you don’t get this job, you have more information about your positive attributes to highlight going forward.
There are your tips and tricks for how to ace a job interview.
Going on a job interview can be a stressful experience, but the more you prepare for the job interview before and during the interview, the less stressed you will be.
And this will result in a greater likelihood of you landing the job.
But don’t just assume you will get the job.
Be sure to follow up as well to help score a job offer.