Those of us with jobs and careers at the moment can all still vividly remember a time when we were nervously sitting outside an important-looking office waiting for an emotionless secretary to buzz us in. Even though I had always been a good public speaker, job interviews are still one of the most stressful situations to me. If you’re a student fresh out of college or university or someone just looking for a new career, I’m happy to share a few of my tips and techniques to help you get through your next interview. Ultimately, it all boils down to one simple thing: confidence. I don’t mean forced confidence, where you’re bluffing or BSing your way through, but a thoughtful, prepared form of confidence. I’m referring to the feeling of excitement when you look through an exam for the first time and you realize you can answer all the questions easily. Here’s my six-step process to building up that type of confidence for your next interview.
1. Learn about the position inside and out The very first thing you need to do is look over the job posting in detail. Are you qualified for every single requirement? If not, how can your specific experience and education make up for the shortfall? Make sure you have something to say for every single sentence of the job posting. The same goes for your resume. Make sure you can explain how every single point of your resume makes you a good candidate for the position.
2. Learn about the company’s history and recent activities What does the company do? What is their biggest product? How does their site look? Spend some time going through their website and Wikipedia page to get a general sense of what they do.
3. Learn about what the company is up to now What has the company done this past month? This past week? In particular, look at any community or green initiatives the company has done. You don’t have to memorize every news article the company shows up in, but having a general idea of a headline or two can be useful ammunition if your interviewer asks you what you know about the company. Depending on the company, you may also want to look at recent acquisitions, product lines, and stock price.
4. Prepare your list of experiences Although I can’t speak for industries outside of commerce (marketing and retail in particular), one of the most important things you need to demonstrate to your interviewer is your experience. Write up a list of experiences that highlight your skills and competencies. Here are two different made-up experiences that would work. Try to come up with as many of these as you can and know your story backwards and forwards.
|Positive Trait||My Experience|
|Customer Service||Walked a customer through a difficult phone contract during a prior job at a mobile phone store. Customer had no expertise in phones at all and spent several hours going through every page of the contract and every single feature of the phone. Because of my efforts, they became one of the store’s most loyal returning customers.|
5. Prepare to tie your experiences to interview questions Finally, you need to prepare for what the interviewer might ask you. Even though each and every job is different, you should prepare for some of the most commonly-asked questions. We recommend this list to give you a good idea of what might be coming your way. The most important step here is to tie all the things you’ve learned in the first four steps to the questions. If the question is a knowledge-based question (“Do you know what our company has been doing lately?”) or an experience-based question (“When was the last time you faced an angry customer? How did you react?”), you need to have an answer primed and ready to go.
6. Prepare for the unexpected No matter how well you prepare, there will often be a question or two (or three) that you didn’t see coming. If this happens, quickly go through all the different experiences you’ve planned out in your head to see if any of them might be applicable to the question. Many times, this “mental mix and match” has helped me recover from an unexpected question. Will this guide guarantee you a job? Of course not. What this guide will do is give you a framework for listing out all your strengths and experiences in a way that will build your confidence and ultimately make you a more attractive candidate.
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