Wed, 6 Feb, 2019
You’ve already optimised your LinkedIn profile, made sure your CV is in tip-top shape, and polished your cover letter until it shines. You’ve fretted, worried, and bitten your nails. And, now, you’ve finally gotten a positive response! You’ve got an interview coming up. How do you make sure to ace it?
Interviews can be difficult creatures, so it’s incredibly common to be nervous when facing one. Of course, there will always be an element of surprise you can’t plan for, but there are a few tried-and-true tips you can follow to maximise your chances of succeeding.
1. Take a look at LinkedIn profiles
In order to have a productive, positive interaction with another person, you need to have an idea of who they are. In this case, you’ve got to tailor your communication and behaviour to your interviewer.
An easy way to get familiar with who they are is to check their profile on LinkedIn— this condenses all the professional information you need to know. Analyze the profile and pinpoint areas of shared experience. The goal is to create a common ground for easier interaction and to give you the chance to ask questions that show the interviewer your preparation.
2. Look for connections with employees
Another useful social media tip is to use LinkedIn, Facebook, or another platform to look for common friends and networking acquaintances. If you can, get a coffee with some of those connections— they might have information on what the company and its culture are like. Maybe they’re even familiar with the role you’re interviewing for.
What to ask? You have a lot of options: values, the day-to-day routine, the managers’ working style, and market positioning regarding the competition. Your common connections will most likely be happy to help.
3. Research— aka Google— the company
To stand out as a candidate, you need to be able to position yourself and your skills as strategic within the company’s current situation. You also have to show your interviewer you’re informed on the goals and values, perhaps by asking smart questions.
Doing this requires you to research and fish out all possibly useful details about the organisation. Obviously, you’ll have to use Google. Some basic ideas to search for that target the company’s marketing strategy:
Organic search: what’s the website’s ranking?
Do they have an active Blog? What topics are they exploring?
Inbound tactics: do they use them? And how successful are they? Think landing pages, newsletters, SEO practices, and blogging activity.
Are they strategically using social media for leads?
What is the competition doing?
4. Consider the company’s culture
An interview isn’t just about hoping your interviewer will choose you— actually, you’re choosing the company as well. A big component of this decision is, for most professionals, the culture: the beliefs, values, and practices the company embraces in its every day.
You don’t want to be stuck working for a company that makes you feel like an outsider, so researching the culture is a sound idea. You can read culture reports (at sites such as Glassdoor) and other employee accounts to find out more.
5. What are your interviewers into?
Who is the person that will be interviewing you? It goes beyond professional experience— what are they truly interested in? And how can you connect to them on a deeper level? Perhaps you’re both fans of the same sports team or have a shared interest in pre-revolutionary Russian art. Whatever it is, you’ll be able to leverage it in order to build a positive relationship with the interviewer from the get-go.
6. Get your cards ready
In a sea of candidates, sending handwritten notes to the interviewers will set you apart from the competition. But, often, people are exhausted after a nerve-wracking interview and they end up not writing or sending the planned cards.
How do you make sure you are sending them every time? Before your interview, get your cards ready, address them, and add a stamp. Then, the only thing you have to do after the actual interview is to write a short personal thank you note. Make sure to include a detail specific to your conversation with each person.
7. Study up: research interview questions
When it comes to good interview performance, one of the key ingredients is an easy, eloquent conversation stream. Doubting yourself or being unassertive will always go against your interests.
But being quick on your feet when the questions start coming is no miracle— it requires preparation. The best tool you can have is the ability to prepare the answers to standard questions beforehand. Research what are the most common interview topics in your area of expertise and a short note on how you’d answer. Then, even if no one asks you that exact question, you have a ‘building block’ ready-made for replying to something else.
8. Think of it as an exam
What would you do if you were getting ready for an important exam? Probably, make sure you’re in perfect shape to make the most of the opportunity. Your mind should be prepared, as should be all the little practical details. What can you do?
The night before, print out your CV, pack your bags, and lay out your outfit. This minimises the time you waste in the morning.
Go to sleep early to get a good night’s sleep— it does wonders for your mind’s speed.
When you wake up, eat a filling, balanced breakfast.
Make sure you know the way to the interview before you leave, and aim to arrive 30 minutes before the set time.
By taking care of these little details, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress and boost your interview performance. A job interview is always an awesome opportunity for your career growth, so follow these tips and make the most of it!
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