Do you know how to nail a job interview? Whether you’re a recent college grad or a seasoned professional, landing your next role may depend on how well you prepare for your interviews.
I’ve got some practical advice — for both interviewers and interviewees — on how to make the most of a job interview. Start by identifying and researching potential employers. From there, you should develop effective strategies, prepare thoroughly for the interview, and be sure to follow up after the interview.
With these tips in mind, you can nail your next job opportunity — and move closer to achieving your career goals.
Are you ready to land your dream job? Here’s some advice and tips to get you started.
Know What You’re Looking For
When prepping for a job interview, you’ve first got to know what you’re looking for in your next job. Understanding a role’s required skills and abilities will help you figure out if it’s a good fit for you. You’ll also be able to tell if it’s an opportunity worth your time.
Beyond role-specific information, understanding the company’s mission and values will help ensure that it aligns with yours. Research potential employers ahead of time to gain insight into what they may be looking for in candidates.
Understanding their expectations can inform your answers in an interview. It can also help you demonstrate exactly how your experience makes you the right fit for the position. Be prepared to discuss your career goals and how this job fits into them. This lets potential employers get an idea of how committed you’ll be to the position, should they choose you.
Additionally, it’s essential for you to be prepared to demonstrate your achievements. This means sharing previous successes, as well as acknowledging any mistakes and demonstrating how you’ve learned from them. And when you discuss accomplishments, provide specific examples rather than just general statements. Employers want to see both how you take responsibility for your work and how your skills can benefit their organization.
Develop an Interview Strategy
Having an interview strategy is critical for nailing a job interview. It takes upfront research and preparation, but all the effort is worth it.
Before you go into an interview, do your research about both the company and the position you’re applying for. It will help you answer questions about your interest in the job and why it would be a good fit. The more you can enthusiastically talk about how the organization and role fits your goals, the better you’ll come across. Don’t convey the message that you only applied because you randomly stumbled across their open position.
Remember to spend time studying the job description thoroughly so you have a clear understanding of what the expectations will be.
Preparing your own list of questions ahead of time is also important. Potential employers want to see that you are engaged with their organization and you’re interested in more than just a paycheck.
Asking thoughtful questions shows that you have done your research on the company and its goals. It also shows you have an idea about how your skills could contribute to their success. Preparing questions in advance also helps fill any awkward silences or if there is open time at the end.
Additionally, when I’m involved in interviews, it’s a red flag if the person I’m talking to has no questions for me. Coming to an interview with no questions feels disrespectful of the hiring manager’s time. Avoid sending the signal that you’re not really invested in the role.
Preparing for the Interview
Securing a job interview is exciting, but knowing how to nail a job interview can be intimidating. Preparation is key to helping you succeed during the interview and helps you make a great impression. Here are some quick tips to help you be successful.
- If you have someone who can help you, practice in advance with a mock interview. Prepare answers for common questions, like “Why are you leaving your current job?” or “Why are you the best candidate for this position?”
- On the day of the interview, dress professionally. You’ll never get bad marks for being the best dressed in the room.
- Arrive early, whether it’s an in-person interview or a Zoom call. Respect their time and show your eagerness.
- If you’re meeting in person, bring extra copies of your resume or portfolio. If you already provided it electronically, don’t assume they’ve printed it themselves. This would also help if more attendees join the interview than you anticipated.
- Be mindful of nonverbal communication. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer, acknowledge what they’re saying, and sit attentively. Use your body language to show you’re interested.
These simple tips can help you really know how to nail a job interview and make a great impression on prospective employers.
Follow Up After the Interview
Staying in touch with potential employers after the interview is a key step in landing your dream job. It communicates your commitment and shows your enthusiasm for the company. When follow-up is done correctly, it makes an impression and improves your chances of advancing through the hiring process.
Start by sending a thank-you note or email — within 24 hours, but sooner is better. Make sure to express your appreciation for their time. Repeat your excitement about the opportunity and take the chance to reiterate your skills and qualifications.
Additionally, show you were really paying attention during the interview. Follow up on anything left open from the interview (expanding on an answer, providing documentation, etc.). Also indicate that you will reach out again if needed.
In some cases, following up by phone may be useful too — especially if there are questions or issues that need addressing. If you follow up with a phone call, wait a day or two so you don’t seem intrusive. Again, express your gratitude and answer any open questions.
Finally, stay organized throughout your job search process. Make sure you track all interactions with potential employers so you don’t forget any follow-ups. And because job searches can sometimes be long and frustrating, tracking all your efforts can also be encouraging.
Are you on the other side of the table during the interviewing process? My book, Lead, Don’t Manage, has helpful tips and interviewing techniques for managers who want to know how to nail a job interview, too. Check it out and follow me on social media for more career advice.