I’ve been on more job interviews than I care to remember, and most of them followed a similar pattern. Having been offered the job many times, I feel like I can talk a bit about how to ace a job interview, especially if the thought of the whole thing makes you feel nervous and anxious.
One thing to keep in mind is that job interviews make up a very small percentage of your time here on this earth. During that interview, your “job” is to sell yourself. No matter how much of an introvert you are, or how poor your self-esteem might be at the moment, I want you to set that all aside and sell yourself.
How to Ace a Job Interview
It doesn’t matter if you think you can do the job yet or not (you probably can’t, and that’s expected—don’t worry, they will train you to do it). It doesn’t matter if you are afraid of the interviewers or feel intimidated by them. I want you to put all of that out of your mind and sell yourself.
Contrary to what you might think, the interview isn’t about showing how well you can do the job. It’s about showing how well you can handle yourself in the interview.
Preparation is Key
Hopefully, you have already done all of the requisite preparation for the interview, including imagining questions that may be asked and developing scenarios and examples for your responses. Now, you need to convey your fit for the organization and unique capabilities for the position. A few key pointers will turn all of your preparation (which should have been extensive) into a quality presentation of a professional you—and that’s how to ace a job interview!
Make the Interviewers Comfortable
First and foremost, you need to relax. Remember that the interviewers may be seeing a number of candidates and they want to enjoy the process. You want the interviewers to feel comfortable with you. Try to have fun and smile. Enjoy a few good-natured laughs, but be sure to keep things clean and politically sensitive. Using a sense of humor appropriately shows good business sense and professionalism.
Good Body Language
Make eye contact with your interviewer. If you have multiple interviewers, make sure that you remember to address all of them throughout the interview. You don’t want to alienate anyone inadvertently. Shake hands firmly with everyone and look them in the eye as you do it. Repeat the interviewers’ names back to them as you shake their hands.
It is appropriate to have a pen and paper in front of you to take notes. It is appropriate to use this pen and paper to write a synopsis of the questions that you are asked and how you want to respond. Simply let the interviewers know that you want to make sure you get all of the pieces of the question and that you would like to take notes. If you need anything repeated, ask for clarification. This shows competence and professionalism.
Answer questions concisely, yet thoroughly. Look to the interviewers’ body language to see if you are going on too long. If they are taking notes on what you say, this means they are engaged. If they are making eye contact, this is also good. If they are looking around the room or checking their watches, you need to wrap up the answer to that question. If unsure, you can always ask if your answer is sufficient.
Before you leave, ask questions about the organization or position that reflect your motivation and competence. Questions like “What kind of support will I have to innovate within the position?” show that you are eager to innovate. Leave the interview with a few parting words about what you hoped to convey. A closing statement such as “I hope I have conveyed to you my dedication to innovation and my strong willingness to include everyone as part of the team” is an example of a strong finish.
At the close of the interview, you may ask when you can expect to hear back and provide a sheet of additional references. Above all else, remember to leave the interview with a smile and a strong handshake, just as you entered.