Congrats! After a long job search, the killer resume and cover letter you put together for your dream job landed you an interview. But after you confirmed the date and time, you likely started worrying about how you'll perform. What kind of interview questions will they ask? What is the 'right' way to answer them? What should you wear? How can you make a great first impression? The stress is enough to keep you up at night with nightmares about all the job interview mistakes you could make.
Stop worrying! Here are the job interview tips you'll need to prove to the hiring manager that you're the ideal candidate.
Top 10 common interview questions and answers
The first step to scoring a job offer is to practice your answers to common job interview questions, so that you come across looking polished during the interview process.
Tell me about yourself.
The hiring manager doesn't need to know what city you were born in, your first pet or your star sign. They want to get an idea of how your skills and background fit the job description and how you'll fit into the company culture. This is an opportunity to link your professional background, education, and training to the job description and what you’ve learned about the company. So, give a description of yourself that is tailored to what kind of candidate they're looking for. For example, if you're applying for a job as a writer, talk about any career history as a writer, how you have an English Literature degree and that you write the website copy for a non-profit as a volunteer.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
No matter what job you are going for, this is likely something that you’ll get asked. This can be a challenging one to answer. Talking about your biggest strength is usually easier – just be honest and connect a strength you have to the job. For example, if you're very organized, explain how your organizational skills will come in handy when managing complex projects and demanding due dates. Talking about your greatest weakness is much harder. Be honest about this and don't try too hard to make it into a secret strength. Instead, tell them how you deal with your weakness so it doesn't affect your work. For example, if you're not naturally organized, share how you have developed or adopted systems that help you stay on top of things.
Why should we hire you?
This question is usually asked right before the interview wraps up, and it's your chance to tell them why you're the best candidate and what you can do for the company. One great way to answer this question is explain in detail what you hope to bring to the job in your first six months of working there. What contribution will you make? What will your goals be? Come prepared with some ideas. Other questions to prepare for:
While those are three questions you'll likely get in your next interview, here are seven other great ones to look out for:
- What do you know about our company?
- Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker and how you resolved it.
- Tell me about a time when you faced a difficult situation and overcame it.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why do you want to work for our company?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Do you have any questions for us?
How to effectively use your communication skills
Job interviews are high pressure situations and even the best people can get flustered and answer the wrong way. Whether you have amazing communication skills or struggle with social anxiety or shyness, you can take steps to be prepared.
While you might think that some people naturally just have better interview skills than you do, they've likely just spent more time on their interview preparation. You too can come across like you're an expert at interviewing with practice! Get a friend to ask you interview questions and get their insights on your answers. You can even check Glassdoor to see if your potential employer is listed. Some companies have examples of interview questions that other candidates were asked on their profiles.
Better yet, remember during the interview that it's okay to pause for more time in order to come up with an answer. You can repeat the questions or ask for some time to think. This is especially relevant if you're trying to think of an example to share.
How to make a great first impression on the hiring manager?
Making a great first impression is about having the right attitude and energy in an interview. Greet the manager and search committee with a warm smile and a firm handshake. Do your best to come across as confident and comfortable even if the situation is scary. Your goal is to make the hiring manager want to work with you.
Tips for interview preparation
Things to consider before the interview
Aside from practicing interview questions, you should also be doing research on the company. Google them to find out as much as you can about the company so that you can answer questions about how you'll be able to help the company and why they should hire you. Look up the hiring manager or recruiter on LinkedIn so that you know what their background is. You can learn a lot about someone from their profile!
If you've had unsuccessful interviews recently, think about to your last job interview to help you figure out what you did wrong so that you can improve.
Make sure to bring extra copies of your resume to the interview just in case.
Double-check the interview location the night before so that you know how long it will take you to get there and be sure to leave extra time just in case you encounter traffic.
Things to consider during the interview
The most important thing to remember during the interview is to relax. Even if the interview isn't going as well as you would like, getting anxious is likely to cause you to make mistakes or appear flustered. Make eye contact with your interviewers and monitor your body language. Sit upright but not too stiffly. Think about questions you might want to ask your interviewers at the end of the interview.
Things to consider after an interview
After the interview, consider sending a follow up thank you email to the hiring manager. If you didn't ask during the interview, ask what the rest of the interview process will look like. Will they be bringing candidates in for a second interview? When will they get back to candidates?
Dress code guide for an interview
Should you wear a suit or something more casual? As much as you might think the right outfit will get you the job, there is no dress code that will guarantee you'll score a position. Dressing in a suit or a work appropriate dress will likely make a good impression for many jobs — but not if the company culture or industry is very casual. In that case, dress in business casual.
Don't worry too much about wearing a red tie because you once heard it made you appear more powerful. Instead, use your accessories to show a bit of your style and personality without going overboard. For example, if you love bow ties — wear one. If you enjoy big earrings – go ahead and add a tasteful pair to your ensemble. A bold accessory will make you memorable.
While preparing for a job interview can feel scary, it's important to breathe, do your best, and remember that there are a lot of other jobs out there. If you don't get this one, another position might come up that's an even better fit. A job search is a process and if you keep applying and improving your interview skills, you'll find the right position!