job interviewing 101

Interviewing 101: How to Get The Job You Want

Erik Interviewing, Make Money 6 Comments

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Effective interviewing is possible if you have the right strategy for a winning interview. When starting off your career after college, or making a job change later in life, having interview skills is essential for getting the job you want.

Luckily, there are a number of job interviewing strategies you can practice and hone to impress hiring managers, and improve the chances of getting the job.

Are you looking to become a better interviewer? I want to help you improve your interview skills and get the job you want.

In this post, I will be sharing with you tips to perform successful interviews. I’m going to look to answer you interviewing questions, and provide answers on the following topics:

Let’s get started with a discussion on what your job is as an interviewer is, and how you can set yourself up for interview success.

job interviewing 101

Your Job as an Interviewee: Show Value

When going for an interview, the sole purpose you should be focused on is showing your worth and value to the interviewers.

What is value?

For your career, value is the assessed worth of a service.

If you can show the interviewer that you are worthy of the job, and will be a good investment in the businesses’ time and money, you can secure the job offer.

Showing value while interviewing can be accomplished through the following:

  • being confident in yourself and your answers
  • understanding the needs of the company
  • looking to connect with the interviewers

In addition to showing your worth and value through the tactics above, there are a few interviewing skills that will increase your chance of getting the job offer.

Interviewing Skills to Practice to Get a Job

To capitalize fully on the opportunity to interview, there are a few interviewing skills to practice to help impress the interviewers.

Through my experience, both as an interviewee and interviewer, there are 5 important interviewing skills. These interviewing skills are general, and can be applied to all disciplines and fields of work:

  • Communication
  • Big Picture Thinking
  • Customer Service
  • Problem Solving
  • Sales

Why are each of these skills important? Below is a description of each skill necessary for helping you during the interview process.

Communication

Communication is arguably the most important skill to have and focus on growing in a person’s life and career.

In every day life, we interact with many different people. If you can’t communicate your thoughts and feelings in a coherent way, you will struggle.

Similarly for your career, written and verbal communication is so critical.

For improving your communication, seeking to understand, and then be understood, is the first step to succeeding with people.

Once you understand the question and perspective of the interviewer, then you will be able to answer in such way which satisfies the interviewer.

I’m a natural introvert, but through practice, I’ve improved my communication over time.

A few ways to improve your communication include:

  • Writing in a journal or blog
  • Reading books on communication and practice with friends out in the world
  • Performing informational interviews to understand your industry’s jargon
  • Recording yourself speaking on a topic, start a YouTube channel, or start a podcast
  • Joining a local Toastmasters club

Communication is so critical, and it’s essential for interviewing success.

Big Picture Thinking

Big picture thinking is a rare skill. If you want to connect with the interviewer, big picture thinking is a must.

Big picture thinking is the ability to take in many different pieces of information, understand how all of the pieces of information work together, and then provide a strategy to produce a favorable outcome.

Hiring managers are tasked with a lot on a daily basis. They have to manage their staff, manage a profit and loss statement, keep up with industry best practices and regulations, and the list goes on and on.

If you can connect with the hiring manager at a higher level, this will instantly differentiate you from other potential candidates who are too focused or close minded.

For me, I improved my big picture thinking through reading books about broad topics, playing strategy games, learning about strategy, and taking a step back from the detailed processes to think critically.

It took a while, and I’m still not a great big picture thinker, but I’ve improved from where I was before.

Big thinking can bring big results!

Customer Service

What do businesses do to make money? Businesses provide individuals or other businesses value through products or services.

Typically, the buyers and consumers of the businesses’ product or service will have questions or comments. If you can reliably be respectful and helpful to the businesses’ customers, you’ll have a higher value in the eyes of the hiring manager.

Think about it, when you walk into a store, how do you like to be treated?

I’m guessing you’d like to be treated with respect, to have your questions answered in a clear and concise manner, and get on with your day stress-free.

Again, this isn’t rocket science, but if you don’t have much experience, start trying to become more friendly to people around you. Once you are on the job, you can continue these practices.

Likability is a huge component in raising your value as job candidate. Working on your customer service skills will lead to increased likability, and will help with getting the job offer.

Problem Solving

A skill listed on many job listings is problem solving.

In jobs which are straightforward and grunt-ish, it’s very difficult to work on problem solving on the job.

However, for business owners and managers, thinking outside the box is a must. If someone can help solve a problem, they are instantly more valuable to you.

A few pieces of problem solving include creativity and designing a solution for the situation at hand.

Learning how to problem solve can come through playing games, doing puzzles, and studying strategies for problem solving.

Whenever I come across a problem, I always take a step back, take a deep breath, and apply the following steps to maximize my efficiency. By practicing this process, you will be able to tackle much more difficult problems and be able to successfully apply what skills and tools you have.

  1. Examine the problem and understand what the problem is asking
  2. Figure out what tools you can use to solve it
  3. Map out a high-level plan to the solution
  4. Follow your plan from #3 and solve the problem

Becoming a better problem solver will help with interviewing.

Sales

Even if you aren’t applying for a sales based job, knowing sales and marketing can help with interviewing.

When interviewing, you are selling YOURSELF and your skills and knowledge to the business in exchange for a job.

By applying the principles of establishing authority, trust, and scarcity, you can improve your value in the eyes of the hiring manager and improve the chances of getting the job offer.

Learning sales and marketing can be done through reading different books, watching videos, or trying to sell a product yourself!

Before getting into the nuts and bolts of the interview process, I want to cover one more thing: gaining real world experience and learning job specific knowledge.

How to Gain Job Specific Knowledge and Technical Skills

qualification worth itAll of the skills I mentioned above are great in general, but most jobs are specialized.

As you progress in your career, the jobs get even more specialized, and specific knowledge will be required.

For example, in my line of work as a programmer and statistician, I’m required to know the SAS programming language, and also understand regressions and statistical analysis.

If I didn’t know these pieces of information and possess these skills, I wouldn’t be qualified for this job.

With some jobs, you can learn this information on the job, but to succeed with your interviews, gaining relevant experience before the interview will be beneficial.

Gaining the proper training, education and experience can be straightforward for some industries with college, apprenticeships or certifications.

If you are looking for a job in an industry where the path is a little less straightforward, freelancing and doing self-directed projects can lead to impressive items on your resume.

Just the other week, I interviewed someone who ran a children’s book company in college! While that had no relevancy directly for programming and statistics, it showed entrepreneurial ability and big picture thinking.

Getting off the couch and getting into the real world will help round you out as a job candidate.

We have touched on the necessary skills for interviewing success. Now, let’s dive into the interview process and how you can create an effective interview environment for yourself to get the job.

What to Do in Preparation for an Interview

Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated the human resources gauntlet and have finally secured an interview with the hiring manager.

Now what?

It’s time to prepare for your interview. It can sometimes seem intimidating going for an interview, but with the right preparation, you can succeed.

There are a few interview preparation strategies and tips to know before going for an interview. With these interview preparation tips, you will help your chances of acing your interview and being offered a position.

After we discuss these interview preparation strategies, I’ll discuss how to answer questions to impress the hiring manager. After you learn how to answer interview questions the right way, we will talk about interview day and impressing the hiring manager.

3 Things You Need to Know When Preparing for an Interview

When preparing for an interview, there are so many things to consider and think about.

Do I have the right skills and experience for the role? Will the company be a good fit? Who will I talk to? What if they hate me? What will I wear?

Getting ready for an interview comes down to preparing the following 3 things:

  • Your story (your experiences, skills, perspective, goals, etc.)
  • Learning about the job position and company
  • Coming up with questions for the interviewer

Interview preparation is all about knowing your story, and having the confidence to sell your potential to the hiring manager.

Knowing your story means knowing your abilities, education and experiences. 

If you don’t know your story, you’ll stumble during your interview and not get the job offer.

I’m sure you know someone when someone is making up a story or speaking about something you can tell they don’t understand. Don’t be that person during an interview. You are just wasting your time, and also wasting the interviewer’s time (and they are very busy).

The second part to interview preparation is having some understanding the job position and company. If you can have a basic understanding of the job position, you’ll be able to tailor your interview questions and answers towards the hiring manager goals.

Make no mistake, this is intimidating (especially if the company is small). However, with informational interviews and doing research online, you can get a feel for what a company stands for and how you could fit in as an employee.

Once you have an understanding of these few pieces of information, it’s time to practice your interview question responses.

Many people are smart and dedicated enough to receive a job offer. However, the ones who will get the job will be able to answer questions clearly, concisely and confidently.

Examples of How to Answer Common Interview Questions

When preparing for your interview, coming up with answers for common interview questions will be very beneficial for your interview.

When I was job searching, I had a 5-page document with questions and answers which certainly helped me feel more confident when interview day arrived.

As we discussed in the previous section, it is essential to be able to answers in a calm and concise manner.

Brainstorming good and complete interview answers, mock interviewing, and practice, you will become more confident over time.

Mock interviewing is especially important. The more that you interview and practice, the more familiar you will be with your story.

By performing many interviews, you will become more comfortable with discussing your past. Your level of comfort and confidence will be appealing to employers. This will lead to interview success and hopefully, a job offer.

How can you impress with your interview answers? Below, I provide an effective interview answer strategy for you to use when answering the interview questions.

Remember, the goal of your interview is to show you can be a valuable asset to the hiring manager and company.

How to Impress with Your Interview Answers

There are hundreds of common interview questions (which I’ll provide a list a little later on in the post), but for examples of answers, I’ve prepared four interview questions for us.

  1. What are are your strengths?
  2. Do you have any weaknesses?
  3. Why do you want to work for this company?
  4. Why do you want to leave your current job?

When preparing for an interview, it’s important to rehearse answers to the interview questions that you will be asked.

Before coming up with your answers, it’s critical to have a strategy for success. In the next section, I’m going to discuss a strategy for answering interview questions the right way.

You will see that by applying the strategy, you will hopefully paint a positive picture of a successful, confident, young adult full of potential.

By doing this, the hiring manager will have to offer you the job.

A Winning Strategy for Answering Interview Questions

Coming up with responses for your interview isn’t rocket science. While the thought of having to interview with a stranger can be scary, you can overcome it.

Here is my 4 step winning strategy for answering interview questions:

  1. Start off by relating the question to some life experience of yours.
  2. Tell the interviewer about your actions during the experience and how your actions affected the outcome.
  3. Share the result with the interviewer and then reflect on the experience.
  4. Examine ways how this experience will affect your work in the role you are interviewing for.
    • Use this time to describe how you’ve grown from this experience and will be able to tackle bigger and more complex problems.

If you can, try to always relate it back to the job description.

By following this 4-step process, you can successfully answer any interview question that comes your way.

Another tip is to use the power of 3’s. Our generation was conditioned into thinking in terms of three ever since elementary school.

For example, every paper needs an intro, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In your paper’s thesis statement, it’s important to have three topics that are relevant and powerful to give the reader a reason to continue reading.

When describing your story and what you have accomplished, focus on the power of 3‘s.

Finally, (this should apply to everything in your life) it’s especially important, to be honest!

An employer will find out if you are lying about something in your life.

People are not dumb and can pick up on even when you are telling a small lie about the time you saved a couple cats from a burning building (if you have done that, that is amazing!).

However, with preparation, everyone has enough stories and experiences to be able to answer the following questions successfully and ensure that they have a strong chance at getting the job offer.

Now, I’m going to provide a few examples of common interview questions and answers.

How to Answer “What are your strengths?”

Before answering any interview question, it’s important to take a deep breath and remember the strategy.

When answering “What are your strengths?”, the first step is knowing your strengths and how you could apply those on the job.

For example, if you are applying for an analyst position, your answer could be the following:

I’m a strong problem solver. I’m able to think big picture to come up with a solution, but also am detail oriented and can dig deep to resolve any nuances and smaller issues. Problem solving requires looking at a problem from multiple angles, coming up with a strategy, and executing on that strategy.

My problem-solving skills have allowed me to complete [insert previous relevant project or work experience here]. Through reading and learning about my industry, I have a broad view of what techniques I can apply to a given problem.

This job needs a strong problem solver, so I believe that I will be able to come in and make an impact immediately.

Everyone has strengths and it’s important to expand on what your strengths are.

Go into the details of how you received those grades and what were your strategies for success.

By going into the details, the interviewer will be able to obtain more information on how you will identify and attack problems, and what your plans for solving those issues are.

The Power of Story Telling when Interviewing

telling stories during interviewTying each of the interview questions to you and your situation will be critical for differentiating yourself from other candidates. Also, you have to take into consideration the job position.

If the position is based off communicating with customers and other teammates, make sure to include in your response that you have exceptional communication skills and that you have experience working with teams.

After saying this, talk about an experience when you were in a team; describe what happened, the result of the issue, and how you and your team resolved this problem.

Including a story about your experience will further strengthen your answer. Storytelling is incredibly powerful and can leave a memorable impression for the interviewer.

This will show the hiring manager that you are not just saying words, but can back it up.

Again, make sure to look at the job description to make sure that you are portraying yourself as someone who the interviewer is looking to hire.

Go into detail about the strengths that are relevant to the position and that will enable you to succeed in your next job.

How to answer “Do you have any weaknesses?”

Answering “Do you have any weaknesses” can be a tricky interview question for many young adults.

When answering “Do you have any weaknesses”, it is important to spin the answer to discuss something you are working on.

Self awareness is an incredibly important skill for success in this world. By showing the interviewer you are self aware of a problem, but are working towards improving will lead to successfully answering this question.

An example answer to “Do you have any weaknesses” could be:

One of my weaknesses is communicating my ideas and thoughts clearly and confidently.

However, I’m currently working on this by attending Toastmasters, and working each day in my current role to be clear in my writing and speaking. I try to capitalize on every opportunity to present to my team for practice.

Growing up, I was naturally quiet and didn’t practice writing or speaking as much as I should have. Communication is one of the most important skills for success in life and career, and over time, I know I can improve on it.

For this question, be authentic. Do not say, “I’m a perfectionist”, or “I work too hard.”

NEVER SAY THESE STATEMENTS WHEN ANSWERING THIS QUESTION.

You want to distinguish yourself from the other potential hires.

Be original and speak to something that you are improving on. This will show that you are aware of your shortcomings but have been working to overcome the hand you were dealt. This shows resiliency and the ability to adapt in a professional way.

No one is perfect, but if you are working at your imperfections, this will show that you are successful and an asset that they need to hire.

How to Answer “Why do you want to work for this company?”

Answering the question “Why do you want to work for this company?” is straightforward, but can be a little tricky.

Having a solid answer for why you want to work for the company you’ve applied for is very important.

With a bad answer, the interviewer will be turned off.

If you don’t want to work for a company, why are you interviewing? If you don’t know why you want o work for a company, then what are you doing with your time?

However, with some research on the company, you can successfully answer this interview question.

Here is an example response for “why do you want to work for this company?”:

I genuinely believe that I can grow and achieve greatness at your company. You seem to have the tools and programs in place where I could prosper in the workplace.

I read [insert company] has won multiple awards for being a great employer in the region and I applaud that and want to be a part of this success.

I read about your new product and believe it working on it would be a very beneficial experience for both of us. By coming to work here, I hope that I can help improve the processes of producing that product.

Mentioning some of their successes and what they are working on is a good strategy.

This is an important question in the sense that if you say, “I don’t know anything about the company, I just applied and got an interview”, you will not look too good in the eyes of the hiring manager.

How to Research a Company Before Your Interview

For you, try to research and pick one product that the hiring manager’s group works with. Try to understand how the product works, and be excited with comments and questions on this product.

This research can be accomplished through informational interviews or searching online on the company’s website.

By doing this research, after you answer the question, you can go into a discussion on the product and what you will be doing to improve it.

These additional talking points will speak volumes about your ability to think ahead  on building a better solution. With this question, you can build up your reputation as someone who is eager to learn and wants a better understanding of what the company.

“Why do you want to work for this company” provides a great opportunity to show your value as a candidate, and is critical for establishing a solid impression.

How to Answer “Why do you want to leave your current job?”

Another tricky interview question is “why do you want to leave your current job?”.

The key to successfully answering this common interview question is to not talk bad about your current employer, but instead focus on the opportunity in job you are applying for.

An example answer for “why do you want to leave your current job” could be:

I’m looking to leave my current job because I’m not getting as much responsibility or opportunity as I’d like at this point in my career.

Coming to work for [insert company here] will allow me to grow as an individual and provide opportunity for me to improve my communication, learn new analytical skills, and show my leadership abilities.

There are many reasons why someone would want to leave their current role. The key to answering this question is showing the hiring manager that you are excited to come to the new job.

Again, do NOT trash talk your former employer.

Say that you enjoyed working for that company, but the growth and development potential that you experienced was not enough for you to want to stay.

A hiring manager will notice the fact that you want to learn and expand on your mental abilities and want to achieve remarkable things.

Growth and development are two skills are employers really want to hear about. A driven person will be thinking about these ideas and will be more attractive to companies.

30+ Sample Practice Interview Questions

We covered 4 example common interviewing questions above, but there are potentially 100s you could practice for your interview.

Below is a list of interview questions which will help you prepare for an interview. I’ve split them up into the following sections:

  • Interview Questions about You
  • Interview Questions about Your Experiences and Previous Work
  • Other Interview Questions

Not all of these interview questions will apply to you or the job position you are looking to get an offer on, but should be a solid list to help you become prepared for your interview.

Common Interview Questions about You and Your Story

Below are sample interview questions about you, your story, and your goals. Brainstorming and creating answers for these questions will help get you prepared for you interview.

  • Tell me your story.
  • What motivates you?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Are you a self-starter?
    • How much direction and feedback do you need to be successful?
  • What is your greatest accomplishment?
  • What things frustrate you the most?
  • What are your career goals?
    • Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?
  • What would you most like to accomplish most in this job?
    • What skills and abilities do you want to learn?

Finally, another commonly forgotten question is how much money do you want? What is are your salary expectations? Understanding your worth through market research will be important so you don’t leave money on the table.

Common Interview Questions About Your Previous Work and Education

Below are sample interview questions about your previous work experience and education. Brainstorming and creating answers for these questions will help get you prepared for you interview.

  • Discuss a specific accomplishment in a previous position that indicates you will thrive in this position.
  • Describe a time you had a particularly stressful situation with a co-worker.
  • What did you find most satisfying about this a previous job?
  • If you were to ask a previous employer about your abilities, what would they say?
  • Describe a time that you were part of a team; what was your role?
  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • Tell me about your most interesting class.
  • Tell me about a class that you struggled with and what you learned as a result.
  • What technical skills do you have that will make you successful in this job?
  • What other skills and aspects of your education and training have prepared you for this type of role?
  • How do you stay current on this field?
  • What specific projects will be helpful for this job?

Other Common Interview Questions

Below are other sample interview questions about different work topics. Brainstorming and creating answers for these questions will help get you prepared for you interview.

  • What interests you about this company?
  • What interests you about this job?
  • What questions do you have for me?
  • Tell me about a time when old solutions didn’t work and what you did to change this.
  • Describe a situation when you had to seek out information, analyze it, and make a decision.
  • Do you volunteer?
  • Convince me to hire you.
  • Why shouldn’t we hire you?
  • What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?
  • Describe a time when your team did not agree with a decision you made. How did you overcome it?
  • What would the person who likes you least in the world say about you?

Some of these practice interview questions might seem tough or unreasonable. However, it’s certainly possible that a hiring manager might want to know about a certain piece of information.

If you’ve done your research, prepared appropriately, and have great responses ready to go, then you’ll be able to crush your interview and improve your chance of getting the job offer you want.

Follow-Up Questions to Ask the Interviewer

The last step for preparing for a successful interview is preparing questions to ask the interviewer.

At some point during your interview, you will be asked if you have any questions about the job and company.

It is a best practice to have a list or script of questions to ask so that you can learn as much about the position and what your work will entail when you are hired.

Preparing for this part of the interview by having great questions to ask the interviewer is an excellent way to leave a fantastic impression.

Interviews are all about making the interviewer realize that the company needs to have you as an employee because it is an opportunity for them to grow!

Below is a list of questions which will leave an impression and will have the interviewer wanting to hire you. I’ve split them into 3 sections:

  • Questions to ask about the interviewer
  • Questions to ask about the industry
  • Questions to ask about the company and your fit

Don’t ignore this step! Preparing questions for the interviewer is equally as important as preparing your answers to the main interview questions!

Questions To Ask About the Interviewer

Below are a few questions you could ask the interviewer about themselves.

Getting to know your future manager and work is important. It won’t be fun if you work for someone you don’t like!

  • Tell me about your career and how you got to this point?
    • What do you like most about this field?
    • What do you do to stay current?
    • Tell me about a major project I will be working on?
    • Tell me about your most favorite aspect of working here?
    • Tell me about a typical day at your company.
    • What are your goals?

By getting answers to these questions, you can get a better handle on your future work, and also how your manager operates.

Questions To Ask About the Industry

Below are a few questions you could ask the interviewer about the industry that the company is in.

  • Tell me about the most recent products your company brought to market?
    • How have the sales been?
    • What would you do differently if you were to produce another, similar product?
    • How have the consumers responded?
    • What have the competitors done to counter?

By asking about the industry, you can get a feel for how the hiring manager feels about the coming years for the company.

Questions About the Company and Your Fit

Below are a few more questions about the company and how you could potentially fit in with the team and culture.

  • What is the team that I will be working with like?
  • What are your goals for me when I come to work?
  • When I come to work for you, what do you think I should focus on to be successful as quickly as possible?
  • What should I look at or try to learn between now and the time that I come into work the first day?
  • Is there anything on my resume that concerns you?

By asking about the industry, you can get a feel for how the hiring manager feels about the coming years for the company.

Things to Remember When Asking the Interviewer Questions

There are a few more tips to remember when asking an interviewer follow-up questions.

Do not start the question with, “If I get the job…”.

Instead, say, ” When I start…” or “When I come to work for you…”. This shows much more confidence and does not put the interviewer in an awkward spot.

“If I get the job” puts unnecessary pressure on the interviewer. “When I start” makes it sound like you already got the job and want to learn how to increase productivity.

Also, doing research on the interviewer before the interview so that you have an understanding of what the person’s past is. Researching will help you direct your questions better; use LinkedIn and Google to look them up.

By asking these questions, you will be viewed as a competent and confident professional with loads of promise and ability. The hiring manager will have no choice but to hire you because they will see that you have an active mind and are working towards learning as much as possible.

How to Perform a Great Interview to Get a Job

I’ll admit, interviewing can be really scary. However, you’ve spent the last few days preparing and practicing your interviewing skills.

You’re confident and have finished your preparation for your dream job interview.

  • You have a list of questions that you will ask the interviewer
  • You have prepared answers for all of the questions that they could ask you.
  • And you know your story and know that you want to work for this company through extensive research and networking

Now, it’s time to talk about what to expect during an interview. In the next section of this post, I’ll share with you how to act and what to say to ensure you can secure the job offer.

The sections below include:

  • What to Bring to an Interview
  • How to Sit During an Interview
  • The Importance of Listening Carefully During an Interview
  • How to Speak Confidently and Clearly During an Interview
  • How to Ask Questions During an Interview

After this section, to finish out the post, I’ll discuss what to do after the interview and how you can follow-up with the company and hiring manager.

What to Bring to an Interview

On the day of your interview, make sure you will arrive to our interview on time. If you are late, the chances of getting the job will drastically decrease.

Try to arrive at the building at least 10 minutes early.

There are a few things to bring to your interview:

  • Make sure that you have a few copies of your resume with you as well as any other documents that you find necessary.
    • Also, a notebook and pen will be helpful if you have to write something down.
  • Dress appropriately
    • Depending on the job and company, you will want to dress to impress. This could mean suit and tie, smart casual, or business causal.

After arriving, take a few deep breaths.

Trust your preparation: you have practiced and have honed my skills so you can effectively communicate your worth to the interviewer.

When the hiring manager or HR person comes to get you, greet them with a smile and thank them when they drop you off in the interviewing room.

It’s common courtesy to thank everyone. Make sure you don’t get in the way of anyone or anything, and be a decent person.

Relax, it’s just an interview. You have prepared for these for the past few weeks. Trust your preparation.

How to Sit During an Interview

successful interviewingWhen you meet the interviewer and go into the meeting room, relax, and take a few more deep breaths.

Stressing over your interview will be counterproductive.

Confidence is key for success in this world.

During your interview, sit back in your chair and keep your hands in your lap. There are a number of body language hacks you can use to show confidence. Bring your shoulders back, and don’t try to slouch.

Slouching is not advised during interviews because this will automatically make you less attractive of a person because your head will angle forward. When your head angles forward, there will be more shadows from the top of your head and your face will not look as bright. By sitting back in your chair, you will appear more attractive and confident.

Also, when you are in the middle of the interview, you might start to sweat a little bit.

By keeping your head up and shoulders back, this will naturally open your lungs for increased breathing. The combination of more effective breathing, attractiveness, and the belief that you will succeed will enable you to answer questions in an effective and successful manner.

Sit up straight and lean back in your chair. This will help you will look confident and ready to go.

The Importance of Listening Carefully During an Interview

One of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood”.

It’s absolutely critical to listen before you speak.

This is a key step to a successful interview: everyone likes talking about themselves and no one likes interruptions. By being an active and effective listener, you will be instantly more valuable to the employer.

Eye contact is critical when listening.

LISTEN WITH YOUR EYES AND EARS.

By listening with both your eyes and ears, this shows that you are not afraid to communicate and puts you on the same level as the interviewer.

During the interview remember to sit back in your chair, use good eye contact, and take in everything that the hiring manager has to say.

By doing this, you will be able to have a clear picture in your mind of what words need to come out of your mouth to provide a concise answer.

By listening, you can set yourself up to answer the interview questions successfully.

After the interviewer finishes asking their question, use the 3-second rule of interviewing. The 3-second rule of interviewing is allowing 3 seconds to pass between the time that the interviewer stops their question and the time that you begin your answer.

By following the 3-second rule of interviewing, you allow the interviewer time to switch their attention from reading to listening. Also, if you start talking too soon, you will catch them off guard which can affect their ability to understand your answer.

Remember to allow the interviewer to finish their question and then don’t forget the 3-second rule of interviewing!

How to Speaking Confidently and Slowly During an Interview

After you have listened to the interviewer’s question and have taken 3 seconds to carefully gather your thoughts and prepare an answer, you may begin speaking.

I believe that the best way to convey your answer is to speak slowly and confidently.

Don’t talk like a mouse; speak with a purpose that you have and do not doubt your answers. Since you have prepared so well and you understand the industry, you shouldn’t have a worry in the world!

However, it’s crucial to speak slowly and make sure that the interviewer understands everything that you’re trying to communicate. Practice makes perfect!

Also, people who talk slowly are easier to understand because other people’s brains can comprehend slower speech more easily. The listener doesn’t need to try and keep up because you are speaking at a pace which is compatible with the interviewer’s level of comprehension.

Another reason why it’s important to speak slowly is it is easier to think and talk at the same time. You can be saying one thing and since you aren’t in a race to finish the sentence, you can think about what words you are going to say next to not misspeak.

Practice speaking slowly: this will help the interviewer understand everything you are trying to say as well as help you stay calm and cool.

How to Ask Questions During an Interview

As we discussed above, having questions ready to ask the interviewer will be critical for a successful interview.

You should always ask questions during the interview to grow your understanding of the interviewer’s job and the company’s product(s).

I like to think of it this way: even if you don’t get the job, the interview will be a learning experience. Consider it an informational interview, so you can learn more about the company and the interviewer for the future. The interviewer will be extremely impressed when you ask them specific questions about their work.

Asking them what they enjoy about the company or their job is a safe way to have the interview be more conversational.

Asking them their advice on certain topics could be interesting as well. Something like, “Based on my background, what do you think I should look for in a job in this industry?”. This plays to their expertise and their ego; it’s an indirect compliment.

Make the interview a conversation.

Your chances of getting hired will skyrocket when the interviewer views you as a peer!

Ending an Interview to Improve the Chances of Getting the Job

After you’ve successfully answered all of the interviewer’s questions, impressed the interviewer with your professionalism, and showed your value, it’s time to leave a lasting impression.

You’ve trusted your preparation and knew with the proper execution you could get the job. By acting with confidence and poise, you’ve impressed the hiring manager and the company.

Your job isn’t over quite yet though.

At the end of the interview, ask them about the timeline for getting a response and what you can expect.

Ask follow-on questions like “What should I look into before I start?”. Or, “Is there anything else I should become familiar with that to be more successful at this company?”.

By asking questions like these, you can play to the interviewer’s ego and expertise while also painting a positive picture of your motivation and drive.

After asking these questions, thank them for their time and get on your way.

The next step is to send the people that you talked with a thank you email and then sit back and wait for the offer.

Steps to Take After an Interview

Whew, that was a rough one! You finished your interview! Now starts the waiting game.

A lot of questions fill your mind while leaving the company’s building: when will they call me? What did I do well? What did I screw up on? WILL THEY GIVE ME A JOB OFFER?!?!?

At this point, there are a few things you can do to continue to build up your value and reputation.

Many people don’t think to do anything after the interview aside from waiting for a phone call or email.

While taking this approach won’t necessarily hurt you, it also won’t win you any brownie points.

Here are the next steps I recommend you take after every interview instead of simply sitting in suspense:

  • Send a “thank you” letter
  • Pause and Reflect
  • Keep leveraging your network
  • Relax!

Send a “Thank You” Letter After an Interview

Nothing says, “I care and this is important to me” like a thank you letter!

Wait a day or two, and then send a thank you letter. Personal touch goes along way in this digital world.

After your interview, it is important to send a thank you email to all the people who interviewed you at the company.

When sending your thank you letter, you should include the following topics:

  • Follow up on ways to improve their team’s procedures and processes in an effective manner.
  • Show you are excited to have the opportunity to come to work for them.
  • Thank them for their time.

Below is a sample interview thank you letter.  Some people get a little more fancy with the thank you but keeping it simple and business is a good strategy.

Dear Mr./Mrs. (Hiring Manager’s last name),

Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you.

I am excited to say that I would like to work with you and your team for these reasons:

  • Making an impact within the company
  • Working with customers
  • Working products that you really care about

When I come to work, I will do my best to improve the processes in place that we discussed during the interview. I am looking forward to showing my abilities in analyzing data in Microsoft Excel, and automating reporting to be more efficient.

Thank you again for your time and I look forward to speaking with you again. Have a wonderful day!

Sincerely,

Your name

Make sure to customize the email or note above to fit your interview experience

A few other thank you letter tips include:

  • Don’t write the thank you email before the interview.
    • As you can see from the sample above, it should be an extension of the conversation that you had during the interview.
  • Show that you are the perfect hire.
    • Your job as an interviewee is all about showing your value.

After writing your “thank you” email, relax, and wait for the manager’s response!

Pausing and Reflect After an Interview

When in doubt, WAIT! 

If they want you, they will not forget about you.

I cannot stress this enough. I received two job offers during my job search and on both jobs, I did not speak to the hiring manager a single time between my phone interviews, in-person interview, and the job offer phone call.

The complete process took over 4 weeks. Sometimes, the offer will come faster, but other times, there might be problems with human resources, budgeting, or hiring on the companies’ side which you can’t control.

Now that I am working, I understand this: the hiring manager is under a tremendous amount of stress to make the correct decision. By pestering them with phone calls and emails, all you’re doing is taking their valuable time away from their other responsibilities.

You should be confident in the fact that if they want you, they will offer you the job!

The Importance of Leveraging Your Network after an Interview

After the interview, it’s important to keep hustling and seeing what other jobs are out there.

Leveraging our network, and keeping a pulse on the job market will allow to you make sure you aren’t missing any amazing opportunities.

Keep learning about other job postings, keep networking and keep working towards your goals.

It’s never a good idea to put all of your eggs into one basket. Instead of taking your job search one interview at a time, keep pursuing other opportunities in case the current one falls through. Always have a backup plan.

If the position you just interviewed for is the only one on your radar at the moment, now is a perfect time to ping your network to see if any new opportunities have emerged.

Or, if you have any connections at your prospective employer, see if they can give you information on things like the company culture or management’s likes and dislikes in the event you’re called back for a second interview (or get hired).

Relaxing After an Interview

The interviewing process can be stressful and a lot of work.

Balancing work and life is crucial for success in life. After your interview, it’s okay to breath and relax.

If you get the job offer, it could be the last time where you don’t have a working obligation for a while.

Take advantage and have some fun! Relaxation is key so that once you start working, you will be able to make an impact on the workplace and increase productivity.

Burning yourself out with stress and anxiety right before starting your new job will only make the on boarding process that much more difficult.

Some people like to disconnect completely and zone out with no phone, internet, or TV. Others enjoy staying engaged with hobbies.

Remember, there’s a lot more to life than work!

Get the Job With Effective Interviewing

In this post, we discussed everything you need to know about interviewing. We touched on interview skills, common interview questions and answers, how to act during an interview, and how to follow-up after an interview.

With this information, you should have everything you need to know about the interview process.

By applying this interviewing techniques and strategies, you’ll be on your way to getting the job, and also hopefully increasing your income.

Hopefully this post has been beneficial for you during your interview preparations.

Readers: do you have any tips on interviewing I missed? What questions do you have about interviewing? Do you have some interview success stories to tell? I’d love to hear about these successful interviews!

Interview 101: How to get the job you want

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Comments 6

  1. What a terrific post! It covers so many aspects of the interview process. One question I didn’t see as I read the post that interviewees should be prepared to answer is “How much money do you want?” I know one first-time interviewee who was unprepared for that question and left a lot of money on the table because she asked for too little. She was able to leverage her first position to get a second one at market rate, but it was very frustrating to know she spent a year or so being grossly underpaid.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thank you Susie for the comment! This is a great question that I should definitely add in there. Also, it would be good to link to something about doing research on similar positions, and making sure you get paid your worth!!

  2. Great post. I might add one thing I’ve learned over the years that makes a huge difference, confidence. Don’t be arrogant but be confident. If you answer like you don’t deserve the job you won’t get it. Practice helps with that, but do whatever you can to help you project confidence during the interview.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks for the comment FTF! I did mention confidence a little bit when preparing for your answers, but I definitely could add more and make it more clear! 🙂

  3. For job seekers out there, this is a must-read. Although unemployment is at it’s lowest in history, there are still many applicants who cannot seem to land a job, especially those fresh college grads.
    I know quite a few of them. I also like the idea of sending a “thank you” letter after a job interview.

    One more thing that I’d like to add is practice. If you’ve been to numerous interviews but could not seem to land the job, you may want to start practicing. Maybe in front of the mirror or record yourself.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks Bernz JP for the great comment and feedback! Totally agree with you that practice makes perfect and is super important for getting a job 🙂

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