Interviewing

How to Nail an Interview

February 22, 2021

The interview is one of the most critical parts of the hiring process. It gives you a chance to impress the hiring manager with not only your skills and qualifications, but also your confidence and how you carry yourself in person. Taking the necessary steps to prepare for your interview in advance can increase your confidence before you walk into the interview. In this article, we discuss 10 steps you can take to nail your next interview.

Related: How to Prepare for an Interview

How to nail an interview

Follow these tips to stand out from other candidates and nail your next job interview.

  1. Do your research.
  2. Prepare an elevator pitch.
  3. Study your resume.
  4. Study the job description.
  5. Use the STAR method.
  6. Create a strong first impression.
  7. Be prepared for small talk.
  8. Body language.
  9. Be prepared with questions.
  10. Follow-up letter.

1. Do your research

Before your interview, set aside time to research the company, as knowledge about the company indicates a clear interest in the role. Review not only the company website, but also their social media pages to better understand the company culture. Look for any recent awards, accomplishments, initiatives and current events, especially those that could be relevant to the role for which you're applying. Throughout the interview, try to find opportunities to reference what you learned during your research to show that you have done your homework. Studies show that hiring managers are more likely to hire candidates who have knowledge of the company.

2. Prepare an elevator pitch

By preparing an elevator pitch, you'll have a succinct and convincing answer to the questions, 'tell me about yourself.' As you are creating an elevator pitch, try coming up with a story about what inspired you to get into this line of work or where, in your childhood, you demonstrated evidence of your passion for the field. Also, emphasize the relevant skills you have that align with those the company is looking for in a candidate.

3. Study your resume

During an interview, the hiring manager can reference anything included in your resume. For this reason, it's important to be able to speak intelligently about each of your previous positions, the skills you used in those roles and how they transfer to the position for which you're applying. Study your resume before the interview and know it well.

4. Study the job description

Prior to your interview, study the job description to fully understand what the company is looking for in a candidate. Write down the specific skills and experiences that the company prefers to see in a candidate and denote which qualifications you have. By reviewing the job description before your interview and aligning it with your own qualifications, you can better navigate the interview and discuss specific examples that will emphasize those skills.

5. Use the STAR method

Separate yourself from the other candidates by going to the interview prepared with stories that demonstrate your skills and abilities. The best stories tell the interviewer about the challenge you faced, what actions you took to overcome the obstacle and the results you achieved. To do this, practice the STAR method. STAR stands for:

  • Situation: Share the situation or challenge you were facing as well as any other relevant details.
  • Task: Describe your responsibility in the situation.
  • Action: Share how you overcame the challenge.
  • Result: Discuss the outcome you achieved by taking those actions.

Study relevant job listings and review lists of the top interview questions. Use these resources to think of 20 or more story responses you could share if asked the questions. Think through each story using the STAR framework. Keep the situation part of your story brief, focusing on pain points that will resonate with an employer. Explain your role or responsibility in the situation as well as the action you took to overcome it. If the action was carried out by your entire team, focus on the role that you played. When you share the results, be specific and quantify the impact you had.

Related: How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview

6. Create a strong first impression

First impressions are important. During the first few minutes of your interview, make eye contact, smile confidently and shake the interviewer's hand firmly. Project an attitude of enthusiasm and energy. Find out what the dress code is so you can match your style to that of the company you're interviewing with. If the dress code is casual, you still want to show that you take the interview seriously. In these situations, it's best to dress in business casual attire.

7. Be prepared for small talk

Small talk at the beginning of an interview can help you build rapport with the interviewer. As part of your interview preparation, identify topics where you may have a shared interest. Think of topics where you and the interviewer may have shared interests so you're both able to ask and answer questions. Identify any news stories or other recent events that are relevant to the company. For any topic you bring up, be prepared with an interesting thought of your own to contribute.

8. Body language

Be conscious of the body language you're projecting during your interview. It will communicate to the interviewer whether you're feeling confident, nervous or uncertain. In order to nail an interview, you want to project positive energy. Sit up straight or lean forward slightly as you talk. Listen carefully to everything the interviewer says to demonstrate that you're alert and look them directly in the eye.

9. Be prepared with questions

Be prepared for the interviewer to ask you what questions you have at the end of the interview. Always have two or three questions, whether about the position specifically or about career development, upcoming projects or what makes them a great organization to work for. Ask questions that will help you determine whether the company is a good fit for you. Remember that you're interviewing them as much as they're interviewing you.

Related: 9 Best Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

10. Follow-up letter

Within 24 hours of your interview, it's important to send a follow-up letter expressing your appreciation for their time and consideration. Immediately after your interview, write down one or two things that you and the hiring manager focused on during the interview and what makes you most excited to work there. This will help you to write a more impactful letter later.

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