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How To Nail a Job Interview

David Law

Mon, 24 Jun, 2019

  • Reading Time:
    ~ 4 minutes


Congrats! You’ve clearly done something well— landing an interview isn’t easy and it shows you’ve got what it takes to build the career of your dreams. Phone interview? On-site meeting? 

No problem: we’ve got your back. Before you delve into the specifics of your interview format or brush up on your storytelling with our STAR method article, it’s time to go back to the basics. What are the key elements of a successful interview? 

Here are seven pro tips (which people always forget) that you can use to show off your skills and get hired asap. Get to work!


1. Go where your heart is.

No wishy-washy stuff here— we mean you should only be there if you want to be there. Of course, getting paid is important but, if you’re after this position only for the money, you won’t get very far.

Your interviewer is bound to ask you, ‘Why do you want to fill this role?’ or ‘What’s your reason for wanting to work at this company?’. In order to come across as authentic, you need to have true motivation. 

In short, make sure to know your answer beforehand and only go where you really want to work.


2. Storytelling is your friend.

You know the drill— you sit down and the hiring manager shoots off, ‘Start by telling me about yourself’. Is this when you panic? Hopefully not, as you can definitely ace this one if you tell your story in a compelling way.

This is the right moment to throw in what the industry calls your ‘elevator pitch’— a short presentation that focuses on your professional achievements and career goals. The secret? You’ve gotta sell yourself!

Keep it simple and pointed: a good formula consists of your professional definition, your background and experience, and your goal. This is the why of your interview, your motivation to fill the role.

Caution: knowing your story isn’t enough. You’ve got to practice! Get a mirror or a very tolerant friend and hit them with your pitch.


3. Stop talking.

It might seem counterintuitive to not talk at an interview (and we are certainly not telling you to shut up entirely), but hear us out. Your interviewer’s goal is to know whether or not you’re a good fit for their company— and yours is to persuade them that you are. 

The best way to do this is to stay on topic. When you’re asked a question, give your best answer in an anecdotal way that shows concrete examples. And then stop. If the ensuing silence makes you nervous, use it to breathe deep and calm yourself down.


4. Stay real (but edit!).

Dishonesty in an interview is a no-no that could ruin your entire career. You should always stay truthful, but you definitely can cast yourself in the best light. It’s a good idea to focus on a growth narrative. For example, instead of complaining about your past boss and coworkers, highlight that you’re searching for new opportunities to learn and succeed.


5. Stall for the win.

The stall method is a way to gain thinking time and minimise the awkwardness of the situation. If you get asked a question you haven’t prepared for and need to collect your thoughts, don’t hmm and umm away. 

Instead, try one of these tried-and-true stalling techniques to save yourself:

Ask: The simplest way to handle the situation is to ask your interviewer to repeat the question.

Say, ‘I don’t fully understand your question, could you please explain?’

Paraphrase: ‘You are asking whether/about ________, am I correct?’

Time out: Ask your interviewer for a few seconds to think through the answer. Keep it around the 5-second mark.

Don’t use the last three techniques if the question is a simple one, like, ‘Where did you study?’. Also, use the stall method with restraint— if you do this after every question, you won’t project the confident image you want.


6. Take the chance to ask.

It’s common knowledge— at the end of the meeting, your interviewer will say, ‘Do you have any questions for me?’. Many applicants miss this incredible chance to turn the tables. 

But you can set yourself apart from the crowd. When the moment arrives, always ask. Choose questions like, ‘What happens after this interview?’, ‘Is there something about myself and my work you’d like me to explain further?’, or the daring, ‘Does something in my experience or qualifications make you doubt about hiring me?’.

Why should you ask these uncomfortable questions? First, knowing the answer benefits you because you get to correct and improve their impression of you. Also, you’ll come across as assertive and have something to work on for the next round or interview.


7. Give thanks!

When you walk out of the interview, you might think it’s over. Spoiler alert: it isn’t! Though lots of people forget it, it’s crucial to send a thank you note to show appreciation for your interviewer’s time. 

Why is this step so important? It shows you are thoughtful and, as it reminds them of you, it gives you an advantage over the competition. Make sure to mention a couple of points you’ve talked about to become more memorable.

With these 7 interview skills, you’ll become progressively better at representing yourself in your interviews. Soon enough, the job you long for will be yours and your career will be soaring. Practice makes perfect!

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