Over the last few years, I’ve helped quite a few friends prepare for job interviews, and I myself have also directly hired a few people. Currently, I also sit on panel interviews for open positions in my team, so I’ve seen my fair share of interviews. With that said, today I wanted to put together my top 6 tips to help you nail your next job interview.
I am a big fan of doing the necessary amount of prep work ahead of an interview and this post focuses on the key things you need to do, and not actually how to answer specific questions. If you’re on the lookout for the latter, I’ve also shared 5 essential stories you need to have ready for your next interview in this post. Also, scroll to the end of the post, because I have a little something for that too. Anyhow, I strongly believe that a key factor in landing the job, is how comfortable and confident you come across during the interview. For me, that lies in the prep work you do before. Alongside the post linked above, here are my top 6 tips to help you nail your next job interview.
My Top 6 Tips to Help You Nail Your Next Job Interview
1. Use a Google Doc to prepare all your answers and questions.
This is basic advice, yet so effective. I highly recommend that you open a Google Doc (or similar) where you keep track of the questions and your answers. Writing your stories down will help you structure them better and refine them on the go. As you progress with your interview prep work, you will continuously adjust your answers until you are 100% satisfied with them. Storing them in an online document will also ensure you can quickly edit them on the go, but also store them for later, to come back to them during your next job hunt and use them as your basic building blocks.
2. Practice the answers to your questions out loud a few times.
Once you’ve drafted your first answers, rehearse them out loud and refine them so you can get a smooth storyline and sound natural. You can also record yourself answering these questions to see where you can improve in how you deliver the information. Alternatively, enlist the help of a trusted friend to go through a mock interview. And remember, practice makes perfect! You don’t need to memorize the stories mechanically but you want to remember the structure and key details so your stories flow smoothly during the interview.
3. Prepare a few key projects that you use to answer key questions.
The truth is, when it comes to behavioural interview questions, it’s difficult to come up with a different situation or project for every single one of them. And you know what? You shouldn’t. What you can do instead, is have a few well-structured projects or stories in your pocket and be able to spin them around to fit the question at hand. For each project, write down the skills you applied, the learnings, challenges, etc. Two things are important to keep in mind, always be honest, and pick situations that generally have a positive resolution or outcome. This way you don’t need to have a million stories but just a few key projects you can spin around depending on the interviewer’s intent.
4. Listen well, and take a moment before you answer.
Let’s get one thing straight first. You won’t be able to prepare absolutely all possible behavioural questions, because it’s virtually impossible to predict what questions your interviewer will ask and how will they phrase them. However, the intent behind their questions will be quite predictable. Most likely they will want to know about situations where you showcased your strengths or your weaknesses, how you handled mistakes, successes or conflicts, and overall challenging situations. With a few variations that’s pretty much it. What’s different is how they phrase them. And that’s why it’s extremely important for you to prepare in advance. So carefully listen, and before you answer, think about the intent of the question. What is it that the interviewer wants to hear? If you feel like you are not getting to the gist of the question, don’t be afraid to ask, “Can you please rephrase the question?” If your answer doesn’t seem to hit home, you can also follow up with “Is this addressing the question?”.
5. Learn to use the STAR method to prepare your answers.
The most important part of your answer is how you structure it. You want to tell a story, not just merely give an answer, or worse, ramble about without any clear takeaway for the interviewer. For most people, storytelling does not come naturally. And that’s all right because there are methods and frameworks that you can use to help you with answering questions in a storytelling format. One of the most used and easiest to apply is the STAR method. It’s an interviewing technique that stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result – STAR. The reason why this technique is so popular is that it allows you to insert context details through the situation part, how you relate to that context, and why it should matter to the interviewer, that’s the task, the specific impact you had through the action, and lastly, the outcome of that, the result. This way you end up telling a well-structured story, and include all the necessary details so that your interviewer can take away the most important information.
6. Always, always ask questions at the end.
Asking good questions at the end of the interview is a great way to stand out and leave a good impression. It shows that you are engaged and interested in the position. It also gives you the opportunity to stand out from other candidates, show all the prep work you did, and of course, it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the role and the company. Let’s not forget that interviews should be a two-way street. It’s for the company to assess if you’re a suitable candidate, but it is also for you to understand if the company and the position are a good match for you and your career. So take a moment and think through what is it that you care about in a job, company, or culture, and translate that into questions for your interviewer. Generally, open-ended questions are better as they can spark the conversation and help you discover more about your future employer.
Thank you for reading and I hope you found My Top 6 Tips to Help You Nail Your Next Job Interview post useful.
A little surprise below
Before you go, I also have a little surprise. I’ve been working on something and I am ready to share it with the world. I’ve recently released a full 40+ page Interview Prep Guide. It’s focused on the key interview questions that pretty much anyone will get across industries and roles, as well as a bunch of pro tips to help you shake off those pre-interview nerves and fears and show up as your most confident self. Here’s an overview of the content:
- How to answer the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” question
- How to use the STAR method to answer interview questions
- List of 20+ behavioral questions, how to answer them as well as answer examples
- List of 30+ questions to ask at the end of the interview
- 4 different worksheets to prep your answers and stories
I’d be extremely grateful if you would be able to support my newly launched guide and I am also happy to answer any questions via the contact box or at email@example.com. Make sure to check out the link, there’s also a freebie worksheet in there!