The landscape of professional work is changing. New companies are emerging daily. Startup culture is becoming more and more prominent. The worlds of tech and social media have created entirely new in-demand skill sets. Even office dress codes are shifting to reflect the times. One constant that has remained in the professional world, however, is the job interview. Regardless of the type of job you’re applying for or how new a company may be, nailing the interview will always be required.
As the interviewee, navigating the interview conversation is an art that requires intellectual agility and some advanced preparation. In other words, you need to do your homework AND you need to think quick on your feet. If you’ve got an important job interview coming up and you’re not quite sure how to get ready, these are some great tips to build up your skills.
Study Your Potential Employer
Preparation starts the moment your interview is scheduled. If you think knowing your resumé in and out is enough, think again. You need to research your potential new company for a multitude of reasons. For starters, if you’re well informed about the latest happenings at the company (i.e. a recent celebrity partnership, a successful IPO, a new CEO, etc.), you can share this knowledge during your interview. It shows the interviewer that you’re invested in the company. Taking the time to conduct your own research beforehand shows initiative.
It’s also a great opportunity for you to determine if this company is right for you. Consume all of the information possible from employee benefits to financial performance.
Know Your Role
While it’s definitely important to know your resumé, it’s even more important to know the specifications of the job you’re applying for. What are the main responsibilities of the role? What specific skills do you have that will help you perform this job well? Your interview isn’t simply an opportunity to recite your accomplishments in chronological order. It’s a chance for you to connect the dots for the interviewer. It’s not about what you’ve done in the past. It’s about how you can use that experience to help your next employer achieve their objectives.
Build Some Instant Rapport
When you’re being grilled about your work experience, it’s hard to see the interviewer as anything but intimidating. But it’s important to remember that he or she is a person, too. The more you establish common ground with this person, the more you’ll seem like a good fit for the company. Scan the room for family photos or big awards. Use those visual clues to spark conversation and tie in your own personal details. You can also ask about your interviewer’s tenure and experience with the company. Anything that helps you forge a deeper connection is beneficial.
A job interview can sometimes resemble minefields. You never know when you’ll be asked a question you aren’t ready for or when the interview will be over. There’s often a tendency to ramble and squeeze in as much information as possible into one answer. This is out of fear that there may not be another opportunity to say more. Don’t fall into this trap. For example, if your interviewer asks you to tell a little about yourself, don’t go overboard. Keep it simple. Give a brief summary of your work history that takes no more than a minute to complete. But be sure to share enough information so that it inspires follow up questions.
Say Something (of Value)
Some of us are born talkers who can strike up conversations with brick walls. But odds are, most of us will encounter at least one question that catches us off guard. This is okay. It’s a great opportunity to show how you bounce back and how you adapt to uncomfortable situations. Don’t allow awkward silence to prevail. If you need clarification on the question, ask for it. By all means, avoid phrases like “That’s a good question” or “I don’t know what to say”. It’ll be obvious that you’re just buying time and that you’re not capable of dealing with ambiguity.
Acing a job interview is just like passing any test from your school days. With a little bit of preparation and an agile mind, you can get through anything.