My Top 10 Interview Tips

Because an awesome resume isn't always enough...

I actually want you to succeed, so here are my tips for great job interviews. My tips and tricks will give you the BEST chance of landing the job you want and changing your life for the better.

Tip # 1

Concentrate on applying for jobs with small or new companies. There is a big difference between big companies, and small companies (those with 100 or fewer employees). In general, large employers are harder to reach, and your experience with trying to reach them can be very frustrating. A recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that newer companies, created a net gain of 1.7 million jobs, while bigger companies, similar firms had a net loss of 505,000 jobs.

So when hiring is tight, you will want to focus on small firms and newer firms and do not get discouraged by your interview turn-downs. Every “NO” you get out of the way, you get one step closer to “YES”.

Tip # 2

Practice, Practice, Practice

Because an interview should be prepared for, before you ever go in. Do a lot of research on the company before you go in. Why? Because organizations love to be loved. If you’ve gone to the trouble of finding out as much as you can about them, before you interview with them, they will be flattered and impressed, believe me. So do not skip this step! It may make the difference between you getting hired, or not. Find out everything you can about them. Google them; go to their website and read the “About Us” section.

Tip # 3

Honor agreements! If it was you who asked for the interview, not them, make sure to specify how much time you are asking of them. You are in control of how long the interview lasts. If they grant you the interview, keep to this time limit as though your life depends on it. It builds trust. You mean what you say. You do what you say you’re gonna do. Of course, if it was they who invited you in for the interview, then it is up to them as to how long the interview lasts.

Tip # 4

An interview is a lot like dating. The conversation during the interview is two people deciding if you both want to “try going steady” (or maybe it’s you plus six or nine others). It’s got to be a two-way decision. What the employer decides is critical, of course but so it’s what you decide. The employer is using the interview to find out if they like you and if they want you to work there. Do you have skills, knowledge or experience that they really need? Do you have the work ethic that they are looking for? Lastly, how will you fit in with their other employees?

On the other side of the table, you should try to find the answer to: “Do I like you all? Do I want to work here, or not?

You don’t begin an interview, as some experts would have it, by “marketing yourself”. Not now. Not in the beginning, and not until you have all the information you need to know about the place and are weighing the question: “Do I want to work here?” and have concluded “yes”, or I think so. Then turn your energy toward marketing yourself.

Tip # 5

Questions to expect from them, then questions you can ask.

The most important questions they are likely to ask is, “Tell me about yourself”. How you answer this questions will determine your fate during the rest of the interview. So, here are some key points to keep in mind when answering to Tell me about yourself.

With this questions, they are giving you a kind of a test. They want to see how you respond to an open-ended, unconstructed question. What employers are looking for here, is an answer to a somewhat different question, that the one they posed. That question is: What experience, skills, or knowledge do you have, that are relevant to the job I am trying to fill? That’s what you should try to answer here. Not your persona, history, where you grew up, your tastes, or hobbies.

Before going to the interview, it will help you if you ask yourself, “What are the three most important competencies, for this job? If you do not have a clue, then that’s what you want to ask them , early on in the interview. Then, you will want to demonstrate that you have those three qualities for the job you are applying for.

What other questions may you expect the employer to ask you?

  1. What do you know about this company, business?
  2. Why are you applying for this job?
  3. How would you describe yourself?
  4. What are your major strengths?
  5. What type of work do you like to do best?
  6. What are your interests outside of work?
  7. What accomplishments thus far in your life, gave you the greatest satisfaction?
  8. Why did you leave your last place of work? Or, why were you fired (if you were)?
  9. What are your goals in life?
  10. How much did you make at your last job?

And they list goes on. Of course, not just the employer has questions. This is a two-way conversation, remember? You have questions too and here are some questions you are probably quietly thinking about during the interview:

  1. What does this job involve?
  2. What are the skills an employer in this job would have to have?
  3. Are these the kinds of people I would like to work with, or not?
  4. Can I persuade them to hire me at the salary I need or want?

You should probably ask questions 1 and 2 out loud, and prepare yourself to make the case to the rest of the questions, when the appropriate time in the interview arises.

Tip # 6

During the interview, try to observe “the 50-50 rule”. Studies have shown that, in general, the people who get hired are those who mix speaking and listening 50-50 in the interview. People who do not follow that mix, were the ones who did not get hired, according to the study. I believe this is because if you talk too much about yourself, you come across as one who would ignore the needs of the company. If you talk too little, you come across as trying to hide something about your background.

Tip # 7

When answering an employer’s questions, try to keep in mind “the twenty-second to two-minute rule.” Studies have shown that when it is your turn to speak or answer a questions, you should plan not to speak any longer than two minutes at a time. If you want to make the best impression. A good answer sometimes only takes twenty seconds to give, but not less than that, else they will think you are lacking communication skills.

Tip # 8

The employer is primarily concerned about risk. One risk stands above all the others: that they may hire you, but you won’t work out. In this case, you are going to cost the employer a lot of money. Employers want to hire people who can bring in money than they are paid. Prior to the interview, you should figure out how a bad employee would screw up in that position, such as coming in late, taking too much time off, etc., and during the interview plan to show the employer how much you are the very opposite.

Tip # 9

It’s the small things that are the killer, in a job interview. Ok, so you are in the interview, you’re ready with your carefully rehearsed career summary, but the employer is not listening. Because sitting across from you, they are noticing things about you , that will kill the interview and the job offer.

Employers watch you carefully, during the interview, because they assume your behaviors reveal how you would act on the job.

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Your appearance and personal habits. Survey after survey has revealed that you are much more likely to get the job if you look presentable this includes fresh clothes, brushed teeth, using deodorant, freshly shaved if a male, do not have a lot of tattoos clearly visible, etc.
  2. Nervousness – it is a turnoff for many employers if you avoid eye contact, or slouch in your chair, or fidget with your hands.
  3. Lack of self-confidence – if you speak too soft or too loud. If you are giving only one word answers, if you’re constantly interrupting the employer or if you’re critical of yourself.
  4. Considerate – lack of courtesy to the receptionist, secretary. You talk badly about your previous employer, you forget to thank the interviewer, or send a thank you-note. By the way, thank-you notes must be sent after every interview that day, if you want to stand out from the others applying for the same job.
  5. Values – any sign of laziness or lack of motivation, constant complaining, blaming of others, instability, etc.

Tip # 10

Be aware of the skills most employers are looking for, regardless of the position you are asking. They are looking for employees:

  1. Who are punctual
  2. Who are dependable
  3. Who have a good attitude
  4. Who have drive, energy and enthusiasm
  5. Who want more than a paycheck
  6. Who are self-disciplined, well organized, highly motivated, and good at managing their time.
  7. Who can handle people well
  8. Who can use language effectively
  9. Who can work on a computer
  10. Who are flexible, or adapt when circumstances at work change
  11. Who are trainable, and love to learn
  12. Who are goal-oriented
  13. Who have integrity and are loyal to the organization
  14. Who are able to identify opportunities, markets and coming trends

There you have it! There is no magic in job-hunting, but with some work, a little bit of luck, and following my tips, you can land that job.

Reference: Bolles, R. N. (2018). What color is your parachute?: A practical manual for job-hunters and career-changers. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.