How To Pass a Job Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published February 4, 2020

Related: Ultimate Job Interview Guide - What To Expect Plus Top 6 Tips

Jenn, a career coach, provides a look at the interviewing process and shares tips on how to position yourself for success at every step.

A job interview is your chance to further highlight the information on your resume and show an employer the person behind the skills and experience. 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 in-person 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 what you could bring to the position. Here are some ways to present your best self in an interview and increase your chances of being hired:

  1. Conduct thorough research.

  2. Dress for the job you want.

  3. Take your time.

  4. Bring a notepad and pen.

  5. Use facts and figures to demonstrate your achievements.

  6. Be prepared for difficult questions.

  7. Prepare your own questions.

1. Conduct thorough research

Research the company, discovering its mission and values and the work being done in the department that you are interviewing for. 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 look them up 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 you're interviewing for. You could use this information to ask them questions about their experience in the role and what additional qualification they think the role requires.

Read more: 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 is professional and comfortable to help you feel confident during the interview.

It's best to wear clothing that is just a step up from 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 should be business professional.

Read more: 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 a given 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.

Additionally, if you don't understand a question, you can ask for further clarification before answering. You can also ask if you have answered a question fully to check whether your answer is detailed enough. This may also prompt the interviewer to ask you a follow-up question about an experience you just described.

4. Bring a notepad and pen

Come with a notepad and pen to make notes in the interview, including interviewers' names and anything important that comes up in the course of the conversation. This step can show that you are 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, making eye contact when you speak to them and nodding as they speak to you.

5. Use facts and figures to demonstrate your achievements

When you're answering questions about what you have 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 have had success with previous customers, give details of your positive feedback and how your customer satisfaction rating has been consistently higher than average.

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 will highlight throughout the interview. Here are a few questions you may consider planning for:

What is your biggest weakness?

Identify a professional weakness and explain how you are working (or worked) to improve it or plan to if hired for the position. For example, if you struggle with time management, explain how you have 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 everything in. If you find it hard to speak in public, describe how you have started to push yourself to contribute to meetings more and are working on your presentation skills to make you more comfortable getting up in front of a group.

Why are you leaving your current job?

Give an answer that is as honest as possible but still discusses your employer in a positive light. 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 will help you succeed in the role.

Discuss a time when you had to overcome a challenge at work

Identify a specific obstacle you faced in the past and describe the constructive actions you took to resolve it. For example, you might cite dealing with a complaint from a client. 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.

Read more: 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 are prepared and have been considering the role carefully.

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

  • "What does it take to succeed in this role?"

  • "What is 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.

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 are 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 you are asked. 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.

Related: What to Do When You Can’t Answer an Interview Question

In this video, we offer 4 key strategies to answering tough questions. These strategies come with examples, explanations and more on leaving a last impression.

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