How to ace an interview – a Quick Guide
Act naturally, and be pleasant, friendly, and businesslike in words and manners. Maintain eye contact without staring, lean slightly forward, and smile frequently. Show that you’re engaged in the conversation. Don’t fidget with your clothes, hair, or jewelry.
Taking notes shows you’re alert and helps you prepare questions that you will want to ask at the end.
Speak from Experience
Use actual experiences to answer interview questions. You will be more memorable if you have a story to tell rather than stating how you think you might handle a situation. Use the P‐A‐R method: a) explain a problem you encountered, b) tell what action you took, and c) describe the result.
Avoid Salary Discussions
Don’t discuss salary, time off, flexibility, etc. on the first interview unless they bring it up first. Try to avoid discussing salary before you are offered the job.
Talk the Talk
Gain credibility by using the language of your discipline (customer service, computers, electronics, etc).
Don’t get too personal in your responses. Off limit topics include marital status, religion, ethnicity, nationality, whether or not you have children, sexual orientation, and age. Try to keep your responses relevant to a professional work environment and avoid talking about personal conflict, hardship, etc.
Positive and Upbeat
Smile and speak positively and enthusiastically about the job, the company, the interviewer yourself, and your past. Never complain about a past job or employer; never use slang or profane language; and don’t talk about your troubles.
Keep it Cool
Do not beg for a job or appear desperate. No employer likes a desperate employee; they want a confident and capable individual. Certainly express interest in the job, but do not act needy.
If you are confident (yet humble) about your ability to perform the job well, they will feel confident in their decision to hire you. If you have concerns about your past or your lack or experience, don’t let those insecurities show. If the interviewer asks you about knowledge or experience which you lack, be sure to put a positive spin on it by explaining that you learn quickly or by outlining what you will do to gain the skills needed.
At the end of most interviews, you will be given a chance to ask questions. Always have a few questions prepared in advance, and ask questions which require more than a “yes” or “no” answer. Ask specific questions regarding product, processes, technology, markets, job responsibilities, employer expectations, company values, work climate, etc.
At the very end, thank the interviewers and tell them that you are interested in the job and look forward to hearing from them. Ask politely when you can expect to hear back from them. For example, ask, “is the next step in the interview process?” Write this information down, and let them see you doing it. Get a business card for contact information, if possible.
After the Interview
Send a thank you note or email to each interviewer the next day, reiterating your interest in the position. If they’ve told you to expect an answer by a certain date and you have not heard from them by that date, don’t despair. Sometimes people just get really busy. Send them an email (or give them a call) politely asking whether they have made a decision yet. Don’t be too persistent. If they don’t call or email you back after two tries, that generally means no. Let your references know you are looking for a job and to expect contact.