The most qualified candidate, based on academic background, skills and accomplishments, doesn’t always win the job. How you handle your rapport-building and presentation in the interview is equally important to building the interviewer’s confidence that you are the best fit for the position. Here are some tips on how to best prepare for a successful interview.
Successful Interview Objective
Think about your objectives for this interview:
- To understand the project scope, technical environment, team attitude and gather as much information as possible about the client.
- To see how your technical skills would complement their project(s).
- To accurately portray how you can add value.
Client Knowledge – Be Prepared
How well do you know the employer with whom you are interviewing? Visit their web page if applicable and get as much information as you can from your recruiter. Research their business and technical environment. Know specifics on the job. Learn their organizational/project goals and explain how you can help them reach those goals.
Team Building Skills
Managers will want to determine how you will blend in with their present team. Be prepared to discuss your team-building and leadership abilities.
Can others count on you when in need of assistance? How flexible are you? Are you team-oriented or goal-oriented? Do you sound/appear confident and friendly?
Be willing to take some risks in discussing how you might solve a problem, but don’t appear inflexible or dogmatic. You might say, “We have tried this approach and have had XYZ success” or “have you tried this?” Give examples.
Style is the combination of temperament, interpersonal skills, understanding, intellect and problem-solving skills. The best way to determine an applicant’s style is by personal observation – in-person interviews. So aside from what we have covered, please remember to:
- Arrive Early — Leave plenty of time at both ends to arrive early or remain late. This reduces stress and shows interest.
- Maintain eye contact throughout the interview. Be cognizant of verbal communications and body language.
- Dress the part so as to make a good appearance. Your dress should be appropriate and on the conservative side for the company and industry.
- Learn the interviewer’s preferred style (question/answer, business discussion/lecture), stay focused and smile. Help the interviewer keep the conversation flowing.
- If you are not sure you are on track – just ask. “Is this the information that you had in mind?”
- Interviewers are looking for positive, can-do candidates who are self starters and eager to accept a challenge. Remember PEA – to have a Positive, Enthusiastic Attitude!
When you are interviewing via telephone, remember that the person on the other line is assessing several areas without the benefit of speaking to you in person. Assist the interviewer in evaluating your fit with the company. Remember, they are focusing on your:
- Technical skills as they relate to their project
- Team building abilities and/or management skills
- Tone, enthusiasm (inflection)
- Organizational fit
- Overall responses
- Remember PEA – a Positive, Enthusiastic Attitude.
- The better you help the interviewer understand your competencies and accomplishments, the more convinced they will be that you have the skills to do the job.
- Never answer a question with a simple “yes” or “no”. Elaborate with specific information on what you did, how you did it, and how much experience you have with it. If the answer is “no”, try to relate something you have done or used that is similar, and express a willingness to learn. If the answer is: “I don’t know what that is” then ask how they use it. There is a possibility that you have used or done something similar. If you find that you haven’t done or used anything similar, again emphasize your desire to learn, let them know that you will invest your time to ramp up as quickly as possible.
- Keep your answers concise. Allow them to do the questioning for the most part. Do not interrupt their thought process. Be specific and remember, you have 60 seconds to make your point, or you will lose your listener.
- Use professional language no matter what. Don’t use slang, sarcastic humor and be professional with your words at all times.
- Ask appropriate questions, or wait until the end of the interview to find out more about the project if there are unanswered questions.
Assuming that you are interested in this opportunity, be sure to leave them with that impression! This is not the time to be timid. If you find a job you really want and are qualified for, let them know it.
Thank them for their time and let them know you enjoyed meeting them and are very interested. “I feel you are doing some really exciting things and I’d love to help you move forward with your objectives,” is a good way to conclude. By all means, end the interview on a positive note.
By following these steps and a little practice, we feel you are destined to have a successful interview.