Five Ways To Win A Job Interview
If you really, really want to land an interview, you really truly must be excited about the job or the employer.
“A man or woman on fire for a particular kind of work is a beautiful thing to see,” said Richard Bolles, well-known author of What Color Is Your Parachute? . His book, considered the Bible of career guides, has been translated into 22 languages and has sold some 10 million copies. He also wrote, The Job-Hunters Survival Guide: How to Find a Rewarding Job Even When There Are No Jobs when the job search news turned horrific, and gave me an exclusive interview in 2009 for a Washington Post piece.
Every job seeker needs persistence and a willingness to devote plenty of time to their search, Bolles told me then. Much of his Parachute advice revolves around knowing who you are and using your strengths to work your way to a new career or new job. He also encourages face-to-face meetings and not counting on online postings or connections overly much.
An ordained minister for 50 years, Bolles compared finding a job to dating: Objective measures count, but so do intangibles such as charm and a “winsome personality.”
This month, we connected again via email, to discuss how job seekers could find their ways into a company. Here are Dick Bolles five suggestions for working your way into an interview:
That combination of serious research and real passion and engagement will help open doors for job-seekers.
Ask Your Own Questions At The End
You should ask a lot of questions after the interviewer has finished their own questions. How are you going to decide if you want the job if you dont find out any info? The best job candidates are evaluating a company, not just trying to get a job in the first company that wants them. Once a company realizes this, theyll treat you like a top-notch candidate and try to sway you to join them.
If you arent sure what to ask, heres a mega-list of the best questions to ask.
And here are 5 great questions to ask recruiters in particular .
Use these lists to come up with questions to ask each person youll be meeting. If you interview with 4 people, you should ask questions to all of them. Its okay to repeat a question, but dont tell the last person, so-and-so already answered all my questions. Ive done this in the past and wasnt offered the job. Lesson learned.
Some of the best questions are opinion-based questions because you can ask the exact same question to as many people as you want. Example: Whats your favorite part about working here? What is the biggest challenge/difficulty you face here?
Top 5 Job Interview Mistakes
When it comes to job interviews, first impressions really matter so make sure you plan ahead to avoid making these common interview mistakes
It’s essential to use this opportunity to showcase your best qualities, and ensure that you’re memorable for all the right reasons. Nerves do play their part in the interview process and everyone has areas that they could improve upon. However, more often than not it’s the most preventable errors that cost you the job.
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Stressed During The Interview Try This Breathing Technique
If you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed before or during the interview, turn your attention to your breath, consciously slowing and deepening it. Keep in mind that you need to exhale slowly, as well as inhale slowly. Controlling your breathing in this way can help you quickly return to a more relaxed stateeven when faced with challenging questionsand remain focused and engaged.
Dont Forget About Your References
Dont let your references be the last to know about your job search, or even worse, get an unexpected call from a potential employer. Many offers are withdrawn over bad references. Why take that chance? Get in touch with your references right away to seek help and to avoid surprises on either side.
- Are your references relevant to your current job search? Who should you add or subtract?
- Are there any reference gaps? Gaps that an employer will question? What is your story about those gaps?
- Can a colleague, vendor, customer, or board member be added to replace or enhance the list?
- What is the current status of your relationship with your references?
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Do You Prefer Working Independently Or On A Team
Your answer should be informed by the research youve done on the company culture and the job in question. Nevertheless, you should expect that most work environments will have some team aspect.
Many positions require you to work collaboratively with other people on a daily basis, while some roles require you to work on your own. When you answer this question, highlight the best traits of your personality and how they fit the job requirements. It could also be in your interest to answer this question by highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of both situations.
Example: I enjoy a blend of the two. I like having a team to strategize with, get diverse opinions from, and reach out to for feedback. But I am also comfortable taking on assignments that require me to work independently. I find I do some of my best work when I can focus alone in a quiet space, but I really value collaborating with my teammates to come up with the best ideas.
Stay Positive And Objective Throughout
A positive attitude translates to how you will perceive questions and how you will relate with the recruiters. For example, if you demonstrate an upbeat and cheerful personality, answering questions like âtell us about yourselfâ will seem natural when you answer. Likewise, there is no need to give stories that will distract from the questions asked. Answer objectively to show intent and that you are not making up things as you go.
If you have a gap in your CV, low grades, or an unpleasant event in the past, you mustn’t strike a defensive tone. Speak truthfully, focus on the experience and share the positives that you learned from the event. Being defensive or blaming anyone looks bad on you and may be perceived as not learning from experience.
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When Youre Balancing Multiple Projects How Do You Keep Yourself Organized
Employers want to understand how you use your time and energy to stay productive and efficient. Theyre also looking to understand if you have your own system for staying on track with the work beyond the companys schedules and workflow plans. Be sure to emphasize that you adhere to deadlines and take them seriously.
Discuss a specific instance when you stayed on track. Talk about the importance and urgency of the projects you were working on and how you allocated your time accordingly. Explain how you remain organized and focused on the job in front of you.
Example: Im used to juggling projects at my current job where Im often moving between coding one software program to another. I use the timeboxing technique to make sure theyre all on track, allocating time on my calendar for certain tasks. Ive found it really helps me prioritize what needs to get done first, and it holds me accountable for the more repetitive day-to-day tasks Im responsible for.
How Do You Deal With Pressure Or Stressful Situations
The employer wants to know: Do you hold down the fort or crumble under pressure? They want to make sure that you wont have a meltdown when the pressure becomes intense and deadlines are looming. The ability to stay calm under pressure is a highly prized talent.
Example: I realize stressful situation are always going to come up, and I definitely have had to learn how to navigate them throughout my career. I think I get better at it with every new experience. While working on a new product launch at my last company, for example, things were not going according to plan with my team. Instead of pointing fingers, my first reaction was to take a step back and figure out some strategies around how we could we solve the problem at hand. Previously, I may have defaulted to panicking in that situation, so being calm and collected was definitely a step forward and helped me approach the situation with more clarity.
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Winning Job Interview Tips
Do Your Research On The Company
You need to know the company like the back of your hand. Make sure to visit their website and collect information about their history and values. In addition, they might ask you why youre applying for this position.
Tip: work on the job offer to be ready to answer questions about the job. Per example: What are the tasks related to the job?
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How To Game And Win The Interview
Fans at a football game.
This may seem unfair. Youd like to believe that when youre interviewing for a job, all that counts is your background and experience. Thats only a part of it. Of course, the interviewer and hiring manager care about your skills, responsibilities, expertise and knowledge. However, while these traits are important, there are some smart hacks to win over the hiring manager in the interview.
You have to enter the arena knowing that it will be rough. Youll be met with indifference and rejection. There will be three to more than 10 interviews conducted over six months. Youre thrust into an uncomfortable game. It’s not easy for most people to turn on the charm and charisma when the interview starts. It feels that the process is one-sided and the company holds all of the cards. Going on a number of interviews without an end in sight and little to no feedback can be exhausting.
Interviewing is similar to playing a sport. You might find yourself against a tough adversary, but once you get how the game is played, youll be prepared, ready to overcome all the obstacles, hurdles and will prevail.
Prepare To Describe Your Work History Briefly
Most interviewers will ask you to give a quick walkthrough of your background at the start of the interview. Thats why I mentioned reviewing your resume beforehand. Its a pretty commonly overlooked but its one of my favorite job interview tips and its so easy to do!
If youve prepared a good, brief narrative of your career, you can impress them right off the bat. What got you interested in this field? What have you accomplished recently?
But it has to be concise. Nobody wants to hire somebody that rambles on or sounds scattered, and thats the biggest mistake people make with this relatively open-ended question.
Spend most of your time on the recent portion of your career. Go through the beginning rather quickly. 2-3 minutes total should be your target.
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Don’t Be Too Familiar
The interview is a professional meeting to talk business. This is not about making a new friend. Your level of familiarity should mimic the interviewer’s demeanor. It is important to bring energy and enthusiasm to the interview and to ask questions, but do not overstep your place as a candidate looking for a job.
That’s How To Win A Job Interview
Learning how to win a job interview is tricky, and it might take some trial and error. Don’t get discouraged if your first interview isn’t successful. You’re learning, and that’s okay!
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Looking And Acting The Part
excited fans at a sporting event
You need to look the part. Wear the attire that fits the jobor even a step above it. Just because youre at home, you don’t look sloppy, lazy or indifferent. If youre on a video call, ensure the lighting is right, youre at a good camera angle, look directly into the lens, make sure the internet connection works and the sound quality is sharp.
Speak in a strong, clear, concise and confident tone. Your voice is a musical instrument. Use it to your advantage. Remember to smile, pull your shoulders back, keep your head held high and avoid fidgeting and squirming in your seat or allowing your eyes to nervously wonder.
Don’t just say yes or no or give one-word answers. Offer complete well-thought-out answers. Avoid meandering and going off on tangents. Have a tight narrative. Sprinkle positive action words into your speech pattern. This will make you sound assertive, confident, in control and desirable.
Show enthusiasm and excitement. Demonstrate authentic emotions. Ask open-ended questions, so that you involve the interviewer and get them talking. The more they talk, the better it is for you. Theyll feel that you must be a great candidate since theyre spending so much time speaking with you.
What would you do? Would you rather hire a person who you genuinely like, but needs some upskilling and coachingor a person you dont care for, but has some more experience?
How To Stand Out In An Interview: 10 Expert Ideas
Employers interview a LOT of people for each jobsometimes 20 or more people get interviewed for a single opening.
So you need a great way to stand out in your job interviews to separate yourself from the crowd. Fortunately, this article is going to walk you through everything you need.
Youre going to learn how to stand out in an interview with 10 proven methods from multiple interview experts so you can get job offers in less time.
Lets get started
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What Not To Do:
I once heard someone standing outside our building, smoking furiously and complaining loudly on their phone about the early start time of their meeting and wondering aloud why they were even there. When I got to my next interview, I realised to my dismay the noisy moaner was my next candidate! Not a great start
Dont Conceal Your Hands
One thing to avoid is to conceal your hands. Putting your hands in your lap, beneath the table may feel most comfortable for you. But body language experts suggest that this unconsciously signals that you have something to hide. More likely, its just because youre just nervous but we dont want a hint of doubt in the interviewers mind.
The same goes for if you place your hands downwards. Instead, keep your palms facing up to show youre open and honest.
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Build A Candidate Fit Summary
Whether youre going on an in-person interview or phone interview, there are many creative ways to leave a lasting first impression. I always encourage my candidates to spend some extra time compiling what I refer to as a candidate fit summary.
This document, which can be left behind at an interview or sent via email during a phone interview, is a brief synopsis of your relevant background and core strengths.
Tailor it to the job and their needs! And prepare for the interview by reviewing the job description and giving some thought to your specific relevant experience and skill set and how this aligns with what the employer is seeking.
Not only does this jog your memory on your core strengths and how they relate to the position, but it shows the interviewer that you took the extra time to prepare and think about how you fit in.
Contributed by: Dave Sugar, Vice President at Cedrone & ONeill Executive Search & Career Transition
Research The Company And Show What You Know
Do your homework and research the employer and the industry, so you are ready for the interview question, “What do you know about this company?” If this question is not asked, you should try to demonstrate what you know about the company on your own.
You can do this by tying what youve learned about the company into your responses. For example, you might say:
I noticed that when you implemented a new software system last year, your customer satisfaction ratings improved dramatically. I am well-versed in the latest technologies from my experience with developing software at ABC, and appreciate a company who strives to be a leader in its industry.
You should be able to find out a lot of information about the companys history, mission and values, staff, culture, and recent successes on its website. If the company has a blog and a social media presence, they can be useful places to look, too.
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