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Nail the Job Interview - DO these 5 Things

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Follow These Tips to Ace Your Next Interview

Apr 8, 2019
job candidate using job interview skills to land a job

Introduction

Let’s face it, there are a number of circumstances that need to converge in order for a  new job to be the resultant outcome.  Without any doubt the crux of those circumstances is the job interview.  To paraphrase – a successful interview is an absolutely necessary (but not sufficient) condition to secure a new job.  

In order to help you negotiate the interview, we present 5 very strongly recommended interview preparation tips.  If you ace an interview, you may not get the job, but if you perform poorly during an interview – your principal opportunity to showcase everything from raw knowledge to speaking to selling – the outcome for winning the new job is bleak.  And without further to do…

Interview Tip #1 - Research the Company Your Interviewing With

While this may seem common sense, don’t just assume that near the end of an interview you will be provided a convenient segue allowing you to demonstrate your knowledge of said company.  In fact, the reverse is very likely to happen as a result of such things as a shortage of time, rearrangement of schedules, and general work-related disasters.  

welcome aboard, after job interview

At this point you find yourself feeling a little silly that you did all that corporate research for nothing.  The folks you just interviewed with won’t find it silly, they might only remember that you didn’t seem to demonstrate any knowledge whatsoever about their company.  The moral of the story – don’t pass up opportunities to discuss your knowledge of the company when and if they arise.  When you reach the end of the interview and the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, you’ll be that far ahead.

What does researching a company entail?  Here is what I recommend:  company history; mission and values; operational challenges; strategic initiatives; recent news; major company players; personnel in my prospective chain of command; personnel I would be working with horizontally; and the person doing the interviewing.  

Interview Tip #2 - Examples of Your Experience

The interviewer will probably assume that you are hardworking, but it’s not necessarily a given.  My first recommendation here is to have 3 to 5 rock solid examples of your experience that correlate well with the position as it’s described.  Moreover, these experiences should probably indicate a substantive effort.  This means verifiable and in detail.  This also means that there is no substitute for a complete understanding and memorization of the job description.  When answering questions like this, use the STAR approach.  STAR stands for situation/task, action, result.

When you get the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question, consider yourself lucky – you’ve just been provided with the opportunity to lay your selling points out on a silver platter.  Properly executed, this is the interview maker.

My second recommendation is that you bite the bullet and prepare yourself for a situational interview.  They are becoming quite popular and interview pros consider them to be very revealing.  Doing this properly is a significant commitment of time – but it’s a serious confidence builder and major influencer that will benefit how you perform in all aspects of the interview!

In short, a situational interview will examine your practical experience in terms of challenging situations.  Specifically, you will be asked how you resolved a certain situation.  Chances are the question will not make you particularly comfortable.  Here is an excellent situational interview preparation tool provided by The Muse entitled "30 Behavioral Interview Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer."  If you’re interviewing for a management position, adjust some of the questions to be from the management perspective.

Interview Tip #3 - Be On “Q” With Your Message

Along with your 3 to 5 solid experiences, you should prepare to go into an interview with 3 to 5 selling points in mind.  Good company research and thorough knowledge of the job description may make these entries obvious.  In essence, these would be your why I deserve the job characteristics.

Why you are the great problem solver, communicator and/or team player would be examples.  Drilling down into these examples can provide a more detailed selling point, for instance – ‘I’ve solved these types of emergent problems in this type of technology environment as a member of this type of team.’

Be prepared to convey to the interviewer why you want the job.  What interests you about the position and what rewards you expect to gain.  Be willing and able to provide clear demonstrations of how your ability satisfies the requirements of the job.  When an opportunity arises in which you have the chance – make sure you are on ‘Q’ with your message and all of your selling points are made at least once during the interview.

Tip #4 - Practice, Practice, Practice!!

Practicing the answer to a question in your mind is one thing.  It’s quite another when you are live and on-stage in front of an interviewer or group of interviewers.  Any human being will naturally hesitate the first time through anything, especially during something like an interview, where so much may seem at stake and nerves can be a bit frazzled.

I would recommend that you gather up two friends and let them subject you to a practice interview.  Allow them to take turns asking questions and then have them provide feedback after each question.  Going through your practice questions even a few times will provide a serious of added value.

Tip #5 – Nail the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question

We’ve all been asked the tell me about yourself question.  It should be interview gravy, but I know I’ve went bust on this at least once as I strode into a life story – a life story that I had no intention of telling, but…

When you get the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question, consider yourself lucky – you’ve just been provided with the opportunity to lay your selling points out on a silver platter.  Properly executed, this is the interview maker.

Consider starting out with, “Of course, there is a lot I can say here, and if you would like other information please let me know, but I think the most important things you should know about me are (selling points).”  Now you can take your time and lay out your selling points and literally take command of the interview.

If you follow the 5 tips above, you’ll be well on your way to nailing your next interview and getting the job you’ve worked so hard for. For some additional interview support, checkout our article entitled "6 Hidden Interview Questions That Break PMs."

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Written By:
Kerrie Gill, PMP, ITIL
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