There’s no doubt that a job interview can be stressful. You want to show a hiring manager the best version of yourself, but under pressure, you might forget to mention the skills and experiences that truly show your worth as an employee. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make sure that your best qualities come through in your response to questions.
First, you should always research the company you are interviewing with in-depth. You should know their mission, values, industries, and past projects. Understand their business model and how the role you’re interviewing for would fit into that bigger picture. Find out about the culture and work environment. Think about how you can align your skills with the objective the company wants to achieve. Brainstorm some past experiences that you think prepared you for helping the company meet their goal.
In addition to understanding the company, you should also find out who your interviewer will be. This will allow you to understand their experiences and values in a professional sense while finding commonalities in your personality. Remember that interviewers are human beings, so finding mutually interests and learning about your interviewer can help build a relationship.
Finally, you should be prepared for certain questions moving into a job interview. Your interviewer will likely lead with the classic, “Tell me about yourself,” so make sure to put together a short marketing pitch about your skills, qualifications, and interests. Knowing what you will highlight in this first question will help you make a strong first impression.
In addition, here are some other questions you should expect to hear in some variation:
- What interests you about this position?
- What do you know about our company?
- Why should we hire you?
- How will you make a contribution to our company?
- What are your weaknesses?
When asked about your weaknesses, frame them as a work in progress and explain how you are working to improve those weaknesses. This will show that while you might not be perfect, you are willing to work to be the best you can be for the position.
Use the STAR method
You’ve made it to the interview, and the hiring manager hits you with the first complex, open-ended question. Don’t panic. Use the STAR method to reveal your strengths:
- S- Situation: Describe a specific situation that you were in or an objective you needed to accomplish. Be as precise as possible.
- T- Task: What was the goal that you were working towards? Why was it important?
- A- Action: Describe the specific steps you took to address the situation or solve the problem.
- R- Results: Describe the outcome of your actions using measurable results. If the results were not measurable, describe your work’s impact.
By using the STAR method, you can reveal your value as an employee while showcasing the influence you had on an organization. Following this pattern can also help you include all of the elements that make you a successful and valuable asset.
In addition to nailing your own responses, you should also have questions prepared for the interviewer. These questions provide insight about what the expectations are for the position, and can also help you see if the company is a good fit for you personally. As a guide, you could ask:
- What types of professional development opportunities does this position offer?
- Can you describe the day-to-day responsibilities of this job in more detail?
- What do you like best about working for this company?
- What are the company’s goals for the next 5-10 years?
After your conversation with a hiring manager, it is important that you reconnect with both gratitude and interest. In a follow up email, thank the interviewer for their time and remind them of some of the conversation points that highlight your value as a candidate. You should be enthusiastic and specific about what you gained from the interview. In addition, you should follow up about what to expect moving forward. You can use these questions as a guide:
- What is the next step in the interview process?
- What is your time frame for this role?
By keeping these tips in mind, you can show how you will be a valuable asset to the company. While it is impossible to predict exactly how an interview will unfold, preparation and the STAR method will help you bring out your best qualities and abilities as a candidate.