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12 Easy Steps to a Successful Job Interview

Sep 2, 2016 Peter Jones

12 Easy Steps to a Successful Job Interview

Some of these are standard, and some are surprising. Keep the usual advice in mind about standing up straight and dressing appropriately. Then just follow the list and you’ll feel great about your interview process.

1. Do the geeky research

Dig into Earnings Calls, Quarterly Reports, etc. Read the company blog. And quote them back to them. Then, don’t just reference the things you learned, but formulate a new or unique insight about what you’ve learned that can show off your skills and how well you did your homework. When possible, incorporate data that’s most relevant to them.

2. Set Google Alerts

In the ramp-up to the interview, set a Google alert for yourself for every time something new hits the internet about the company you want to work for. That way you won’t forget to search every couple of days, and good intel for your interview will come straight into your inbox.

3. Scrub your social media

Use a service like Social Sweeper to get rid of any suspicious photos or content on your Facebook and Twitter profiles. This will spare you getting booted from an interview on the basis of some stupid post your drunken cousin put up three years ago of you at a toga party.

4. Pick Tuesday 10:30 a.m.

Research actually suggests that this is the primo interview slot. Ask for it whenever you can. It’s not a warming up or wrapping up day like Monday and Friday, it’s not right after lunch or right before… and it’s still fresh in the week. Then again, if the company is hiring quickly, take the soonest slot you can get, rather than waiting for the perfect time.

5. Ready a “story statement”

You will get asked the “tell us a bit about yourself” question. Be ready with a unique and fresh answer. Cut out all the filler and the set-up and jump in with the key points in the narrative—the epiphany, the meaningful observation, the overarching point. When done right, you can sell them on you both personally and professionally, crafting a story that makes you both likeable and obvious as the top choice for the job.

6. Stick with subtle fashion choices

Wear a conversation piece. If there’s something you want to emphasize about your candidacy—your heritage, your hobbies, your recent trip to Timbuktu—try wearing something that might spark a question. And have an answer ready.

7. Sell your weakness

You will be asked about your weaknesses. Don’t overthink—and don’t try to pretend your strength is a weakness; interviewers will see right through this. Come up with an honest weakness and then explain how you’re already working to turn it into a strength.

8. Use PAR

PAR= problem, action, result. A situation, your solution, and what changed. Have three (at least) anecdotes ready to go that showcase the PAR process for you to great success. The more specific the better. These answers can plug neatly into the “tell me about a challenging moment at your current job” or “tell me about a time you worked on a team” questions.

9. Think out loud

If your interviewer asks you an analytical question, this is like a math test in school; it’s okay to show your work. Thinking out loud shows your thought process, so even if it takes you a minute to get the answer—or you get it wrong, at least the interviewer knows there’s a good brain in your skull. It shows effective communication, and makes it easier for you to go back and fix any errors.

10. Ask double questions

If you can get two answers with one question, that’s a much better and more economical use of your time. You only get a few questions at the end, after all, best to make them count. Bonus points if you can subtly convey an extra selling point about yourself that you couldn’t squeeze into your earlier answers.

11. Go for broke

At the very end, consider asking bluntly, but respectfully, “Have I given you any reason to think I wouldn’t be a good fit for this position?” It’s a big risk, and you should practice asking honestly and with the appropriate tone. But it can bring a valuable result. Think of it this way: if they say ‘yes,’ you’re still in the room and have one last chance to change their minds!

12. Personal thanks

Email (or better—handwrite) a personal thank you note immediately after the interview. Get it on their desk within 24 hours of speaking with you. Even if you don’t get the job, your interviewer might find your note months later and call you in for another position. Make the best impression possible, even after the fact.

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