Acing the Interview: 6 Tips to Make Sure You’re Prepared

December 2, 2015

[ikon images/corbis]
[ikon images/corbis]

We all have to go through it. Interviewing, that is. Whether the process makes us nervous or whether we walk in with confidence, it’s something that we have to face many times throughout our career.

As a new graduate and young professional, interviews can become a whole different ballgame. They begin to call for a lot more preparation and follow-up, compared to how we approached some of the interviews we conquered during our college days.

Our résumés are updated and our portfolio is looking better than ever, but now it’s our chance to bring those pieces of paper to life with personality and the ability to refer to key experiences.

Here are six interview tips that I learned during my own job search:

1. Never say that you’re a perfect fit because you love to work with people, you’re a quick learner and you have transferable skills. It’s way overdone and too general. Be self-aware and know your strengths and your weaknesses. Take some time to really think about what you’re great at and what you’re not so great at. 

Go through your résumé and make connections between your strengths and some of the qualities and tasks that the position requires. But don’t forget about those weaknesses! Share how you can improve on these and how you’re already taking steps to do so.

2. Show that you did your homework on the company and the position. It’s never a good idea to blindly walk into an interview. Visit the company’s website and learn about their past and present projects and clients. Scroll through their social media sites and get a feel for their voice. You can even do a Google News search on the company. Find something that intrigues you and address it in the interview.

Familiarizing yourself with the company and the position that you’re interviewing for will allow you to better connect your qualifications. Your research can also help you get a feel for the company culture and how you can bounce off of it. If they’re more laid-back, then you may try a more creative approach to presenting your résumé. If the company has a strict business professional dress code, then you will want to follow suit.

3. Ask questions. Every interviewer will ask if you have any questions — whatever you do, do not give them “no” for an answer. While you’re doing your homework on the company and position, make sure to jot down any questions that pop up.

Walk into your interview with a short list of questions that you can refer back to in case you blank. Even questions as simple as “Why do you enjoy working at so-and-so company?” show that you’re interested. If you leave the interview and think of a question, then don’t be afraid to email them and ask. 

4. If you’re going to name-drop, then be honest about your connection and back it up. You should have a reason behind the mention that will build to your brand. If you’ve only met the person in passing, then it’s not the best idea to use them as a reference. Refer to a connection who can speak about your work and your work ethic.

5. Remember that handwritten notes are not a thing of the past. Take the time to send a handwritten note to the person who interviewed you. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you and reference something that you talked about in the interview. Be sure to send the letter in a timely manner. If you can’t send a handwritten note, then at the very least, send a personalized email.

6. Be authentic. If you’re not true to yourself and the goals that you have set, then your actions will soon come back to haunt you. While landing a job is exciting, you’ll eventually find yourself unhappy and, most likely, lacking drive. Why? You won’t be working on tasks that interest you or that will get you closer to reaching your end goal.

Be honest and be yourself from the start. After all, do you really want to work for a company that doesn’t accept who you are?

Rebecca Potzner
Rebecca Potzner is a social media strategist at Game Day Communications, founder of the blog Twist on PR and New Professionals Co-chair of the Cincinnati Chapter of PRSA. Twitter: @Beckuhbeck.


Rachel Tyree says:

Always good to review good interview techniques no matter at what point in your career. I appreciate Ms. Potzner's Tip #6. My best advice to my staff is to always pursue what makes you happy even if it is for less pay. Work is so much a part of our lives that being miserable in your career will only carry over to all other parts of your life. And finally, really weigh the work/life balance. I cannot emphasize how important it is to have a personal life outside of the office.

Jan. 20, 2016

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