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The Insiders Guide to Getting and Keeping a Job

Updated on March 23, 2015

How to ace that job interview

A job interview is a mixture of preparation, psychology, and experience. Interviews make everyone nervous, even the interviewers; so there are several key points that every job candidate should know before walking into that office for the interview.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

There are several aspects of job interview preparation that most new job seekers don’t think about. With the following tips, you’ll be better prepared than most of your competition.

A job seeker first must understand what they are looking for in a job. Make a list of job attributes that are must haves, like-to-haves, and deal-breakers. After this list is created, extrapolate some questions that deal specifically with each point. For example, if one of the deal-breakers on the list is dealing directly with customers, one of the questions that should be written down is “Does this position have direct contact with customers?”

The job seeker must also prepare for the types of questions that the interviewer will ask. Although it’s not usually possible to know exactly what questions will be asked, it’s easy to prepare for the questions most commonly asked in an interview. Here are some examples:

1. What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

2. Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge. How did you handle it?

3. Why should we hire you?

Of the preceding questions, number three is the most crucial. If the job seeker can develop a strong answer for that question, they will have put themselves ahead of most other candidates.

Along with the list of questions to bring to the interview, it’s also important for the job seeker to do research on the company. One of the most commonly missed questions in an interview is “What do you know about our company?” With only a few clicks of a mouse, the question is easily answered. Being able to confidently talk about the company goals and products will impress an interviewer.

You are interviewing them, too

Sometimes job interviewing can feel like a police interrogation. It’s important for the job seeker to understand that the interview is a two-way street.

It’s very important to bring questions to the meeting and to talk to the interviewer about the position. Don’t save all your questions until the end of the interview; make sure that the interview is a conversation. If something the interviewer says demands clarification or is confusing, ask a probing question.

Interviewers look for candidates to ask questions and ask them for further information. Candidates look uninterested or bored if they don’t ask any questions during or after the interview. Also, not asking questions makes the end of the interview uncomfortable for the interviewer, as there might be extra time before the next interview or there is no spur of conversation as the interviewer walks the candidate to the exit.

It is imperative that the job seeker get as much or more information out of the employer as the employer gets out of the job seeker. A job is a place where (at least) eight hours of the day are spent. A person wants to make sure that their time is spent in a place that is stimulating, or at least bearable.

You are selling yourself

The job interview is not the time to be humble. Keep in mind that the interviewer is probably meeting with at least five other candidates, sometimes all within a two- or three-day period. It’s the job seeker’s responsibility to stand out from that crowd.

As mentioned before, the biggest question the interviewer wants the candidate to answer is “Why are you the person for this job?” or “What can you do that will benefit me?” These types of questions can only be answered satisfactorily by communicating how specific experience and skills can be used to excel at the job. Again, the job seeker should go into the interview knowing the job requirements and able to convince the interviewer that they meet or exceed those requirements.

Anecdotally, I’ve gotten more than one job by merely reiterating the job requirements as I describe my experience and education or as I answer the “Why should I hire you?” question. The interviewer is waiting to hear those keywords in the candidate’s answers. They want the candidate to justify, and put them at ease about, making a job offer. Interviewers don’t like making assumptions about experience or interest. Sell them.

All the above tips will help you ace that job interview you are working so hard in school to get. It’s important to keep in mind the career goal that led you to the interview for the job. Is the job in line with that goal? If so, good luck with the interview.

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