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How to interview in today’s market

Preparing for an interview requires THINKING BIG and thinking small.

The thinking big part means keeping some general principles in mind before and during the interview. The thinking small part means being aware of details and choosing your words and actions with precision.

Below I’ve listed five main points you need to remember. Below that I’ve listed 35 “tips from the trenches,” specific pointers that help people do well in interviews. The 35 tips are broken into categories so you can zero in on which ones you need when.


Keep in mind these five main points:

  • The interview is not about you – it’s about the other person’s needs.
  • Your body language is as critical as what you say.
  • Your interviewer is stressed because hiring is a huge investment.
  • You can direct the interview more than you think.
  • People welcome enthusiasm.

Read through these 35 tips and check the ones you want to use:

1. Prepare strategically.

Outside focus

  • Google your interviewer.
  • Google the organization, the CEO, and the founder.
  • Check on salary.com what the job should pay.
  • Schedule the interview for your best time of day.
  • Identify a specific problem you can help solve.

Inside focus

  • Practice your 30” speech aloud (who you are / what you want / why you’re looking now).
  • Write out answers to the questions you fear.
  • Select stories that illustrate your achievements.
  • Bring hard copies of your resume and one-pagers describing key achievements.

2. Engage directly.

General

  • Answer questions briefly.
  • Be conscious of your posture, hands, and smile.
  • Pause and think before answering.
  • Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.

Specific

  • Start with the point, don’t get to the point.
  • Answer the question before presenting additional information.
  • Tell stories using the CARE formula: Challenge / Action / Results / Example of what I can do for you.
  • Look the person in the eye and say you want the job.
  • Email a brief thank you note within 24 hours.
  • Call the following week if you haven’t heard from the employer.
  • When leaving follow up voicemails, stand, speak slowly, use talking points, and smile.

Avoid

  • Dodging questions.
  • Badmouthing previous employers.
  • Introducing topics with a negative valence.
  • Asking about compensation in the first interview.
  • Losing track of the time.

3. Ramp up your right brain.

  • Consider context as well as text.
  • Notice the environment the moment you walk in.
  • Zero in on details (photographs, furniture, clutter, technology).
  • Assess the interviewer’s mood.
  • Get a big picture impression of the organization.

4. Decide to manage your stress, then do it.

  • Work out for several days ahead of time.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Eat something healthy an hour before the interview.
  • Sit in the car, close your eyes, and breathe slowly for 3-5 minutes.
  • Before the interview is over, ask about the hiring timeline and next steps.
  • Jot down your impressions the minute you leave the building.
  • Review those impressions the next day to gain perspective.

Each time you have an interview you learn something new.

Be sure to write down all the things you learned after an interview. It’s easy to forget the details, but they’re important. If you jot down what you’ve learned, you’ll be that much better prepared in the future.