Acing the Job Interview: Ten Pointers for Landing Your Dream Job

job interviewSo you’ve landed a job interview. Congratulations! Now, are you ready? Whether you’ve been on a dozen interviews (or none!), your key to success is preparedness – knowing yourself, knowing the company, knowing whether the job is truly a fit for you and vice versa. When it is a fit, you’ll know it, and you’ll ace it. To make an impression that will have them saying, “You’re hired!”. And work towards finding the right fit for you as well (critically important!), here are ten interview tips from our years of career counseling.

1. Relax, you’ll be more authentic and confident if you do.
The first suggestion is to relax. Think of all the ways you have provided value to your past employers. Did you land a huge account? Go above and beyond on a certain project? Take a deep breath, recall your accomplishments, and let go of the tension. Breathe deeply during the course of the interview to remain grounded and centered. Keep your feet flat on the floor if that helps. And resist the urge to talk too much. When you get nervous you might say too much and can lose sight of what you were saying or dig yourself into a hole. Answer the question, give them an example, read their body language to determine if they got it, then pause and be ready to move on. When you are relaxed you can better follow the natural cadence of the conversation and get into a groove with your interviewer. When you’re in your head being nervous, it’s much harder to read the energy of the room and gauge how things are going.

2. Remember, you’re interviewing them, too.
So many people view the job interview as a test – and they’d better pass with flying colors or they’re in trouble. Yes, you’re being tested – to see if you’re a good match for the company. But remember it works the other way too. This is your chance to see if theirs is the kind of corporate culture that fits your personality type, career values and your work style. It’s possible that you’ll get there and find out you don’t even want the job. Or, you may decide that it’s only worth it if they meet you at a certain salary amount. Ask lots of direct, specific questions… know what you’re getting into, and then weigh your options carefully.

3. Be prepared, know the company.
Organizations have a “personality”and a brand, and it’s important to understand what that is inside out before you step into the interview. Read their press room page on their website. Find out if they’ve been in the news in the past year. Visit their social media pages to find out not only recent news but what their culture might be like based on their online personae and presence. Scan online reviews on Glassdoor.com. You may or may not like what you find, again it’s all about finding the right fit for you as well.

4. Take the pressure off … avoid becoming too attached
Think of the job interview as an opportunity to cast seeds and check things out. This is a “get to know you” or feeling out phase, not a contest or do-or-die situation. Try to avoid becoming too attached to any one job. That old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” could not be more true than for the career search. Sometimes things take an unexpected twist or turn. You could be “90% sure” that you’ll be on Company X’s payroll next month… and suddenly the phone rings with an even better offer. Put your best foot forward in every interviewer, but always intend that the right thing will come along whether it’s this job or another one down the line. This will prevent you from becoming too attached and coming across as desperate or, if you don’t get the job, too disappointed.

5. If they ask about your weaknesses, answer honestly.
Each person excels in some areas more than they do in others. If you are honest, you stand a better chance of being placed in the best possible career for you. So when the question about weaknesses comes up, tell the truth. Just be sure to spin it in a solution-oriented way that tells the interviewer you know how to overcome and manage such challenges. For example, if you’re not detail-oriented, you could say so – but also add that you always give yourself extra time on projects that involve lots of detail. Or, you could say that you make a great “big picture partner and strategist” when paired with someone for whom little details are their strong suit. And ensure of course, that the weakness you’ve chosen to discuss is not one that is a make or break for that specific position. If it is, think twice about whether this job is really the right fit for you.

6. Write a list of five key points you want to express in your interview.
You’ll feel more confident and at-ease if you prepare for your interview in advance, we know this. One way to do this is to make a list of your 5 best qualities and accomplishments – what you bring to the table. Consider soft skills as well as hard skills. And your greatest accomplishments in your career to date. On the day of the interview, two things can happen. One, the interviewer will ask you specific questions where you can work your responses around the 5 points you want to mention. Or, two, you’ll end up talking about other things – but when the time comes that they ask for your questions or thoughts, you can use that opportunity to make your points. Either way, write them down so at the end of the interview you are confident you have referenced everything you wanted to mention.

7. Write a list of questions, and don’t be shy.
Asking good questions is a great way to find out if this new company meets the requirements of your dream job – and if they’ll fill the gaps where your old company fell short. Don’t be shy. Ask them about the culture, the management style, the company values and how they live by them. Ask them who best succeeds in this position and at their organization. What the expectations and goals are for the position in the first 30-60-90 days. At the end, ask them if they have any hesitations about moving you to the next round. And address those hesitations if they do.

8. Find out who you are interviewing with.
If you know that you will be speaking to the head of Human Resources, keep in mind that you’ll be asked more general questions. In this case, be prepared to talk about your career history and background as well as your personality, work style and unique qualities. If you have certain items that you’d like addressed, such as day-to-day responsibilities and what the positions demands of you, know that these questions are better left for your potential boss or the head of the department where you’ll be working. Being clear about who you’ll be meeting with will help you understand the expectations of the time you’ll have together. And it will help you tailor your questions and responses as well to what they would be looking to determine from you.

9. Do a quick mini-visualization beforehand.
Professional athletes do it – you can, too. Picture how you want the interview to go and the ideal outcome. Set your intentions. “I am going to show these people exactly why I’m more qualified than any of the other candidates who apply. I will do this by pointing out my accomplishments and core strengths, which are: X, Y, Z.” Imagine that at the close of the interview, you’re smiling, shaking hands with the hiring manager, and feeling on top of the world – like you really nailed it. Envision getting a callback from them that clearly indicates how impressed they were with your professionalism and capabilities. Whatever image or scenario works for you to feel confident and tap into what you want to happen ideally from this interview, consider that. Keep it short and sweet and notice how you feel when you visualize. The goal is to feel confident, energized, and at ease.

10. Dress for the job you want.
Look professional, wear something that shows your personality as well, and dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Consider the environment and the industry but err on the side of looking more professional than less so. And choose something to wear that makes you feel confident and like you are the person who is best suited for the position.
Don’t lose the momentum – go grab a pen and paper right now and begin to formulate your strategy for youe next interview. Go into it feeling proud of your accomplishments. Know that even if it doesn’t turn out to be the job of your dreams, that’s okay. The career search is an ongoing process and learning experience. Intend that you are one step closer to landing the job you’ve always wished for. All the best for a rewarding and fulfilling career doing what you love!

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