Acing an interview isn’t magic that only certain people possess or a skill that only experts can attain. You can become a pro at interviewing too, but just like anything else, it takes practice. So, to help you master the skill of interviewing, here are seven must-dos to practice every time you’re invited to an interview.
1. Research the company and the position.
No employer wants to hire a candidate who doesn’t know anything about the company or the position. Make sure to research the company and get familiar with their mission statement, goals, products, services, and news. Check out the company’s website, the Internet, magazines, newspapers, and your local library to find this useful information. By knowing these facts, you’ll be able to answer two commonly asked questions: “What do you know about my company?” and “Why are you interested in this position?”
2. Review your resume.
Employers will often refer to your resume and ask you to expand on a point you included or explain a project you listed as an accomplishment. Be familiar with the information you listed on your resume. You need to be able to talk about every line of your resume with why you included it and how it makes you qualified for the job.
3. Make a list of talking points.
Your resume and cover letter can’t always include every piece of information you want to share with an employer because you should limit it to one page each. But, an interview gives you the opportunity to share details you couldn’t fit that are relevant to the job. If you left something out of your resume or cover letter, or thought of another strength, experience, or skill you possess, this is the time to bring it up. Make a list of the topics you want to discuss in the interview, and you’ll be better prepared to answer the interviewer’s questions and ask your own.
4. Practice answering questions.
Being able to answer questions articulately will show that you’re prepared and serious about wanting the job. You don’t want to practice so much that you sound like a record stuck on repeat, but you need to practice enough to be comfortable answering questions. Have a friend or family member ask you questions for a mock interview. Since it’s a practice session, use your list of talking points. Try to relate each answer to something on your list.
5. Prepare questions for the interviewer.
Toward the end of your interview, the employer might ask if you have any questions for him. If you don’t, it may seem like you’re unprepared or uninterested in the position, so make sure you have several questions ready ahead of time. A few strong questions you might ask are, “What is the biggest challenge someone in this position might face?” and “What are the opportunities for career growth in this organization?” Some of your questions may be answered during the interview, so it’s best to come up with several to choose from.
6. Dress to impress.
Appearance is noticeable and memorable, so dress to create a positive first impression. When you research the company, don’t forget to find out about the company’s dress code so you can dress the part, or one step up. It’s OK to call ahead of time to ask. If you can’t find this information, it’s better to dress up than to dress down, so choose a professional look. Make sure your outfit is wrinkle-, stain-, and odor-free, and that your clothes aren’t worn through or holey.
7. Decide you want the job.
One of the most important aspects of an interview is your mindset. Before you go to the interview, decide that you want the job and that you’re determined to get it. Think positively, and give the interview your all. You may decide later on that the job is not the right fit for you, but you don’t want to blow an interview by appearing unenthusiastic or uninterested.
No one wakes up knowing how to master the interview, but anyone can learn the skills it takes to land a job. Practice the seven must-dos for every interview you’re a part of, and your interview techniques will become stronger and stronger each time.