I was asked to present the content of my Acing the Interview talk in a 45-minute session. I often teach this content as an interactive two-hour workshop, so I distilled the content down to the most important points. It’s the ultimate cheat sheet.
Top 10 Tips for Acing the Interview
Tip 1: Get Comfortable Selling Yourself and Your Value
Welcome to Sales 101
- If you don’t tell your story, nobody else will
- We are taught from a young age not to brag or call attention to ourselves
Tip 2: Understand the Different Types of Interviews
There are several different kinds of interviews
- Initial screening interview or “check the box”
- HR interview – screening out OR selling you on the company
- Interview with hiring manager
- Interview with colleague / collaborator
- Panel interview
- Video interview
- Presentation interview
- Executive interview
Tip 3: Understand the Different Types of Conversations
Adjust your responses to the way the questions are asked
- Short questions = short answers
- Longer questions = longer answers with stories to back up your points
Tip 4: Have the Right Mindset
It’s all about fit – on BOTH sides
- You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you
- Feel confident about your best skills
- Understand the value that you will bring to the organization
- Be interested, but not attached to the outcome
- Remember that your only goal for that conversation is to get to the next step
Tip 5: Prepare Responses for the Expected Questions
PRACTICE your answers to these questions
- Can you tell me a little about yourself?
- Can you tell me about your last position?
- Why did you leave your last position? (Why are you looking for a new position?)
- What are you looking for in your next position?
- What do you feel is your biggest strength?
- What do you feel is your biggest weakness?
- Can you give me an example of something you are particularly proud of?
- There are a lot of qualified candidates, why should we pick you?
Tip 6: Know Your Stories and Metrics
Behavioral questions are easier to answer if you have practiced these stories
- A success story from your most recent position
- A story where something was going wrong and you turned it around
- A story about your biggest professional achievement (can be from any time in your career)
- A story illustrating your biggest strength
- A story illustrating your biggest weakness
Tip 7: Avoid the Thin Ice
Saying less is always best
- Don’t badmouth a former boss or employer
- Practice uncomfortable answers, e.g., you were fired, you quit, your boss didn’t like you, etc.
- Don’t overshare personal information (kids, health issues, going through a divorce, elder care)
Tip 8: Be Thrilled When Interviews Become Conversations
The best interviews go off topic
- If you didn’t talk too much about your background, that can be a good thing
- If you connected on some topic separate from the job/company, that can be a good thing
Tip 9: Have Questions for Them
Always have a few questions prepared in advance
- Can you share what the interview process is like for this position?
- What are the key skills required for this position?
- What are your biggest priorities?
- What does a day in the life of this position look like? How would I be spending my time?
- What are your immediate challenges?
- What is the company’s near-term strategy and vision?
- What are the company’s strategies for growth?
- Do you have any doubts about my ability or qualifications to do this job well
Tip 10: Make a Great Impression
Be Professional and Confident
- Dress professionally and comfortably
- Don’t fidget, play with your hair, or ramble on and on
- Breathe! Relax, slow down your speech, and enjoy the conversation