Want to ace your next interview and land that job you’ve been seeking? In a competitive job market, proper preparation for the interview is key to winning the assignment!

Ace the Interview with Proper Preparation


In the first part of this series, we offered the first 10 of 20 tips to help you prepare (this is part 2 of 2; see part 1 here).


    Get Ahead by Emphasizing Your Unique Selling Points
  • 11. Make your selling points clear.

  • In any interview, your objective is to “sell” the interviewer that YOU are the right person for the role. If you communicate your unique selling points during a job interview and the interviewer doesn’t really get it, did you score? On this question, the answer is clear: No! So don’t bury your selling points in long-winded stories. Instead, tell the interviewer what your selling point is first, then give the example. Focus on the sequence of summarizing or offering your Skill or Expertise, followed by a Situation, your Analysis and Actions, and the Results.


  • 12. Think positive.

  • People like to work with people they like. No one likes a complainer, so don’t dwell on negative experiences during an interview (even if they are relevant and true!). Even if the interviewer asks, “What courses have you liked least?” or “What did you like least about that previous job?” don’t answer the question. Or more specifically, don’t answer it as it’s been asked. Instead, say something positive like, “Well, actually I’ve found something about all of my classes that I’ve liked.” It’s too easy to carry a harsh or negative tone throughout the rest of an interview if you spend any real time telling a negative story.


  • 13. Close on a positive note.

  • If a salesperson came to you and demonstrated her product, then thanked you for your time, and simply walked out the door, what did she do wrong? She didn’t ask you to buy! If you get to the end of an interview and think you’d really like that job, then ask for it! Tell the interviewer that you’d really want the job – that you were excited about it before the interview and are even more excited now, and that you’re convinced you’d like to work there. If there are two equally good candidates at the end of the search – where they need to choose between you and someone else – the interviewer will think you’re more likely to accept the offer, and so may be more inclined to make an offer to you.


  • 14. Bring a copy of your resume to every interview.

  • Proper preparation shows that you are truly interested in an open position. Have a backup copy of your resume with you when you go to every interview. (Yes, every single one!) If the interviewer has misplaced his or her copy, you’ll save a lot of time (and embarrassment on the interviewer’s part) if you can just pull your extra copy out and hand it over. (Otherwise, don’t introduce any confusion into the interview by offering a clean or updated version — leave the backup copy stored in your papers, as the interviewer may have made important notes on her copy.)


  • 15. Don’t worry about sounding “canned”.

  • Some people are concerned that if they rehearse their answers, they’ll sound “canned” (or overly polished or glib) during the interview. Don’t worry. If you’re well prepared, you’ll sound smooth and articulate, not canned. And if you’re not so well prepared, the anxiety of the situation will eliminate any “canned” quality.


  • 16. Make the most of the “Tell me about yourself” question.

  • Many interviewers begin interviews with this question. So how should you respond? You can go into a story about where you were born, what your parents do, how many brothers and sisters and dogs and cats you have, and that’s okay. (Not really!) But would you rather have the interviewer writing down what kind of dog you have – or why the company should hire you? Instead of talking too long about your personal background, tell a well-rehearsed story that focuses on traits that the interviewer would like the new-hire to have. Focus your answer on those of your skills, expertise, experiences and perspective that will help the hiring manager utilize you to achieve her goals.


    Your Body Language Speaks Volumes
  • 17. Speak the right body language.

  • Your body language speaks volumes about your attitude and approach. Dress appropriately, make good eye contact, give a firm handshake, have good posture, speak clearly, and don’t wear perfume or cologne! Sometimes interview locations are small rooms that may lack good air circulation. You want the interviewer paying attention to your job qualifications — not passing out because you’ve come in wearing Chanel No. 5 and the candidate before you was doused with Brut, and the two have mixed to form a poisonous gas that results in you not getting an offer!


  • 18. Be ready for “behavior-based” interviews”.

  • One of the most common interview styles today is to ask people to describe experiences they have had that demonstrate behaviors that the company thinks are important for a particular position. For example, you might be asked to talk about a time when you made an unpopular decision, or displayed a high level of persistence, or made a decision under time pressure and with limited information. Behavior-based interviewing is a technique used in which the job candidate has the opportunity to demonstrate their potential for succeeding in the new job by providing specific examples of how they handled similar situations based on their past experience.

    The best way to handle this is to tell a story. Anticipate the behaviors this hiring manager is likely to be looking for. Then, identify at least one example of when you demonstrated each behavior. Next prepare a story for each example. Many people recommend using SAR (Situation-Action-Result) as a model for the story. Lastly, practice telling the story. (Also, make sure to review your resume before the interview with this kind of format in mind; this can help you to remember examples of behaviors you may not have anticipated in your advance preparation.)


  • 19. Send thank-you notes.

  • Good manners demonstrate conscientiousness. Write a thank-you note after every interview. Type each note on paper or send them by email, depending on the interviewer’s preferences. Customize your notes by referring specifically to what you and the interviewer discussed; for example, “I was particularly excited about [or interested by, or glad to hear] what you said about …” Handwritten notes might be better if you’re thanking a personal contact for helping you in your job search. Whatever method you choose, notes should be sent within 48 hours of the interview.

    To write a good thank-you note, you’ll need to take time after each interview to jot down a few things about what the interviewer said. Also, write down what you could have done better in the interview, and make adjustments before you head off for your next interview.


  • 20. Don’t give up!

  • If you’ve had a bad interview for a job that you truly think would be a great fit for you (not just something you want badly), don’t give up! Write a note, send an email, or call the interviewer to let him or her know that you think you did a poor job of communicating why you think this job would be a good match. Reiterate what you have to offer the company, and say that you’d like an opportunity to contribute. Whether this strategy will get you a job offer depends on the company and on you. But one thing’s for sure: If you don’t try, your chances are exactly zero. We’ve seen this approach work on numerous occasions, and we encourage you to give it that last shot.


(written by: Donna)

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