How To Pass a Job Interview Successfully: A Detailed Guide

Updated October 27, 2022

A job interview is your chance to further highlight the information on your resume and show an employer your personality in addition to your skills and experience. This can ensure you secure employment at a desired company. Being well-prepared can make it easier to impress an interviewer or panel and secure a position. 

In this article, we give you tips and ideas to help you make a great first impression and ensure that your next interview goes well.

How to pass an interview

Being invited to an interview means that the hiring team has reviewed your resume and recognizes your potential, but they want to know more about you. Here are some ways to present your best traits and qualifications in an interview and increase your chances of securing employment:

1. Conduct thorough research

Research the company and discover its mission and values and the work being done in the department for which you're interviewing. Show an interviewer that you have an understanding of the business, knowledge of the industry or some insight into the direction the company may be heading. Then showcase how your skills and experience would benefit them in reaching their goals.

If you know the names of the interviewers, you can research them on the company's staff pages or professional networking platforms to better understand their background and how it may impact their hiring decision. For example, you may discover that your interviewer started in the same position for which you're interviewing. You could use this information to ask them questions about their experience in the role and what additional qualification they believe the role requires.

Related: The Complete Guide To Researching a Company

2. Dress for the job you want

What you wear to an interview helps an interviewer or panel determine your professionalism and suitability for their workplace. Choose an outfit that's professional and comfortable to help you feel confident during the interview.

It's best to wear clothing that meets or exceeds the organization's standard dress code. While you research the company, you can also search for images of their employees online to determine what their dress code may be. For example, if a workplace prefers business casual, your interview outfit can be business professional.

Related: Guide to Business Attire (With Examples)

3. Take your time

You may have many qualifications you want to discuss during your interview, but consider taking a deep breath before providing your answer. Taking this time to relax and organize your thoughts can demonstrate thoughtfulness during your interview.

Be sure to listen to each question and prompt carefully as well. Try to discuss only the most relevant qualifications for each question to ensure your answers are succinct. Clearly and slowly include one or two skills and experiences at a time to ensure the interviewer understands each qualification. If you don't understand a question, you can ask for further clarification before answering. You can also ask if you've answered a question fully to check whether your answer has enough detail. This may also prompt the interviewer to ask you a follow-up question about an experience you just described.

Related: Interview Question: "Would You Rather Have Structure or Flexibility in a Job?"

4. Bring a notepad and pen

Consider bringing a notepad and pen to make notes in the interview, including interviewers' names and anything important that arises during the course of the conversation. This step can show that you're detail-oriented and organized, as well as provide you notes to refer back to later and help you write your post-interview thank-you note. While you take notes, be sure to stay engaged with the interviewer.

Related: Types of Interviewing Bias and How To Minimize Them

5. Use facts and figures to demonstrate your achievements

When you're answering questions about what you've achieved in previous roles, use data to back up your statements. For example, if you have experience in sales, explain that you were responsible for increasing sales by 20% in that role. If you've experienced success with previous customers, give details of your positive feedback and how your customer satisfaction rating has been consistently higher than average.

Related: 20 Common Interview Types and How To Succeed at Each

6. Be prepared for difficult questions

Review some of the most common and tough interview questions to prepare quality answers to use in your interview. This step can help you feel more confident in your answers and have a better idea of qualifications you can highlight throughout the interview. Here are a few questions you may consider planning for:

  • What's your biggest weakness? Identify a professional weakness and explain how you're working or have already worked to improve it or plan to if hired for the position. For example, if you struggle with time management, explain how you've created a series of reminders on your calendar to ensure that you meet deadlines and have monitored your time when working to ensure you fit in everything.

  • Why are you leaving your current job? Give an answer that's as honest as possible but still discusses your employer in a positive manner. Focus on how you want to develop your career, learn new skills or complete training to gain more advanced qualifications.

  • Tell me about yourself. This question is a chance for you to showcase your most relevant personal qualities and highlight what makes you a strong candidate for the role. Discuss three or four of your character traits and explain how they may help you succeed in the role.

  • Discuss a time when overcame a challenge at work. Identify a specific obstacle you faced in the past and describe the constructive actions you took to resolve it. Explain the situation and the cause of the complaint, what steps you took to remedy it and how you addressed and resolved it, making sure it wouldn't happen again.

Related: 12 Tough Interview Questions and Answers

7. Prepare your own questions

Many interviewers ask if you have any questions near the end of the interview, and it's always helpful to have a few relevant questions to help you learn more about the role and the company. This step shows that you're prepared and have been considering the role carefully.

Here are some examples that you can adapt to tailor to your industry:

  • What does it take to succeed in this role?

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your department right now?

  • Who would I be working with?

  • What are the opportunities for professional development in this role?

  • How do you evaluate performance for this role?

  • Can you give some examples of the kind of projects I'd be working on?

  • What kind of budget would I be working with?

In addition to being able to ask questions at the end, you may find that the conversation leads to one or a few of your questions during the interview.

Related: How To Prepare for a 3-Hour Job Interview

Additional tips to prepare for your interview

Here are some additional tips to help you prepare for and succeed in your interview:

  • Arrive early to gather your thoughts and get a refreshment if needed.

  • Assess whether you want this job and if you're suited for it, just as the interviewer is determining your suitability.

  • Plan your journey to the interview, including parking and public transit.

  • Eat before the interview to ensure you're as comfortable as possible.

  • Send a follow-up or thank you email after the interview to show your appreciation for their time and consideration.

  • Bring copies of your application and resume with you so that you can check dates or remind yourself of figures if they ask you. Moreover, it helps to have a copy for all interviewers ready so they can follow along.

  • Practice providing your answers through a mock interview with a friend, coworker or mentor.

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