Congratulations! You secured a phone or face-to-face interview. Your odds of “winning” the job in this highly competitive environment just skyrocketed. Now, don’t blow it.
There are books, blogs, videos, and more on how to ace that interview, including my own book, Cut the Crap, Get a Job! Right now, however, I want to share my top four secrets from the hiring manager’s side of the table. After interviewing thousands and hiring hundreds in big corporations and small start-ups, I want to help you come out on the top of the list after every interview. Ready?
1. Compare yourself to the Job Description that the hiring manager wrote. I recommend you do this work before you apply so you can write a fabulous cover letter, but let’s fast forward to the interview.
Take out a piece of paper (or open a Word document on your computer). Draw 3 columns in a table and add the following content in short bulleted points.
- Column 1: Major requirements from the job descriptions.
- Column 2: Your skills for that requirement
- Column 3: Stories or examples of how you performed that task.
Here’s why this preparation works:
- Column 1 is the list of items that the interviewer needs to measure you against.
- Column 2 is your answer to, “Have you done this before?”
- Column 3 is the answer to, “Tell me about a time when you…” This is called a situational or behavioral interview question and it is becoming more common.
2. Prepare your answers to the most commonly asked interview questions. I still find it shocking to watch candidates stumble on, “What are your strengths?” or “Why do you want this job?” Write down your short answers to the following before you go into an interview (an entire cheat sheet for these questions and many more are free with my book):
- What are your greatest strengths?
- What are your greatest weaknesses?
- Tell me about yourself.
- How do you handle stress and pressure?
- Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.
- Why are you leaving your current job? OR Why did you leave your past position?
3. The Interview Law of 3s. For your preparation for #1 and #2 above AND for any other questions asked during the interview, use this major trick, which will help you and the interviewer.
The Law of 3s: For every question, you are only allowed no more than 3 short, concise answers. Think and talk in bullet points. If the interviewer wants more information, they will ask you.
This rule will prevent you from babbling on and on, which we do when we are nervous. For the interviewer, you will come across more confident, self-aware, and prepared.
4. Prepare great questions for them! The interviewer is not the only one with questions; you should have several carefully considered questions for him or her. See an earlier Business Journal article where I give some examples.
Again, congratulations on you securing a phone or face-to-face interview! Block several hours of time to prepare, follow the above tips, and you will do a great job.
Contact me if you have any questions or challenges related to your career or job search.