It’s an interesting irony that we prepare and polish our resumes for a job search, but that few people know how to prepare for an interview or even attempt to build interview skills. It’s not hard to build interview skills but it does require a little thought and some work.
Interview tip #1: Know yourself. This is the key to a successful job interview. Specifically, you need to know why you want this job; what unique skillsets you bring to the job; what you expect to bring to this job.
Tip #2: Practice, practice and practice. All the interview tips in the world can’t help you if you don’t prepare yourself by practicing answering job interview questions. Practice your answers in front of the mirror, or with your kids or with you pet (yes, really–pets a great listeners! and not very critical!)
Tip #3: Interview for as many positions as possible. If you are asked to interview, then take this opportunity very seriously–even if it’s not your ideal job on the surface. Sometimes job opportunities are not what they seem, and frequently one job is interviewed for and another job is filled from the same candidate pool. In the very least you’ve practiced building interview skills.
Tip #4: Know your interviewer and the company. Use research upfront to find out who will be interviewing you and what his role is within the company. In a group interview, learn the names and positions of all of the interviewers. This information allows you to predict the interview questions and correctly answer the interview questions. For example if one interviewer is going to be your supervisor and another is to be your co-worker, you can predict their questions and concerns. For the supervisor, you want to emphasize your reliability and build trust during the job interview. For the co-worker you want to demonstrate ability to do the work and also an easiness to work with.
Knowing the company can allow you to predict the current challenges that need to be addressed. Knowing these challenges allows you to demonstrate your expertise within the field and bring up qualifications that you have.
Tip #5: Realize that people like to fill jobs with candidates doing very similar work. This causes job candidates much frustration as they see that you have to have the job to get hired for the job. Ex: a team manager must already be a team manager, not an assistant team manager. But you can take advantage of this blind spot by demonstrating that you are doing almost the same work now, or have done similar work before. Consider which positions in your past have the most similarities with the job that you are interviewing for. Now think about the most challenging situations within those positions. Be ready with stories that show you can handle these situations. Be sure to use detail in these stories–your goal is to have the interviewer ‘see’ you in the role. The more you can make the employer visualize you the more successful the interview will be.
A little practice using these interview tips can allow you to build interview skills to help you successfully interview. However, one final interview skill is without a doubt the most powerful: learn to read people during a job interview. Learn to concentrate on the interviewer and to read his concerns and worries. That will allow you to demonstrate in your replies that hiring you is a solution to his concerns.