Interviews are generally high stress situations for most people, but, unfortunately, interviewing is a mandatory part of the job search process that eventually gets the candidate the job. Many people feel uncomfortable talking about themselves or nervous with the spotlight on them. With a slight change in mindset and some intentional preparation, anyone can be successful in an interview situation. Even though it may not feel that way in the moment, interviews are an opportunity for the organization to get to know the candidate’s abilities better and, in return, an opportunity for the candidate to determine if the position is a good fit for them.
Topics and questions covered may vary by the type of industry and organization, but regardless of the position, the following five tips will help you successfully prepare for and thrive in any type of interview setting.
1) Understand Behavioral Interviewing
Many organizations will use behavioral based questions during their interview process (generally the classic “tell me about a time when…” prompt). These questions are used because your past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior, or realistically, how you’d act in the workplace if they hired you. There isn’t necessarily a correct answer for these questions, but it’s more or less about getting to the root of what those questions are really asking. Are you a team player? What is your leadership style? Do you have customer service experiences? How do you react under stress? Whatever the question, make sure you hit those points in your answers.
2) Reflect and Make Notes About Your Past Experiences
A great way to feel comfortable answering many behavioral based questions is to pull a variety of situations from your life and experiences that assist you in answering the interview questions. Taking time to identify significant scenarios from your work or educational background that help make your case in answering the behavioral questions is very important. You may also want to write down some notes about the scenarios you want to talk about and take the time to practice how you want to speak about them. Familiarizing yourself with specific examples will allow you to feel more confident and prevent you from getting tongue-tied when answering in front of an interviewing committee.
3) Face the Classic ‘First Question’ Head-On
Prepare and practice your answer to the standard “So tell us about yourself?” question to help your interview start out on the right foot. Nailing the first question will increase your confidence and help you ease into the interview. Make sure you don’t go into too much detail – share just enough to give a taste of your background to set yourself to provide more information throughout the rest of the interview.
4) Do Your Research and Confirm Details
Make sure you are familiar with the organization you are interviewing with. This background research helps you determine if the position will be a good fit for your personality and career goals. Becoming familiar with the organization involves checking out information provided on the website, examining its mission or strategic plan as well as finding out about any recent noteworthy events. This information will also assist you in formulating questions for your interviews when they (hopefully) give you an opportunity to ask those questions at the end of the interview. Additionally, it is also a great time to ensure you are familiar with all of the details you will need for the upcoming interview, (location, time, agenda, etc.) Confirming the small but crucial details will help prevent any errors that could contribute to a negative first impression and set your mind at ease.
5) Decompress the Night Before
Don’t spend hours upon hours the night before the interview practicing a long list of questions and scouring the internet. Take a specific amount to time to put your thoughts together and take the notes you need to prepare. Then, spend some time doing something you enjoy, such as catching up on your favorite TV show or enjoying some dessert. Spend your evening wisely so you can head to bed feeling relaxed yet prepared to interview the next morning.