How to ace a job interview? Top 5 tips for blowing their socks off

Article

6 min read

You’ve found the perfect job, applied and landed an interview. It’s feeling pretty real right about now.

Afraid you’ll trip over your words, be asked questions you didn’t prepare for, or find yourself floating in a sea of loooooong awkward silences?

Fear not – interviews can be nerve-wracking, even for the seasoned job seeker.

The more you prepare, the better your chances of wowing the interviewer and proving you’re the right, and only dang person for the job.

Here are five job interview tips to help you knock it out of the park:

 

1. Stalk the company online

Before the interview, gather all the information about the organisation that’s relevant to the role.

Employers will likely ask “why do you want to work here?” or “what do you know about our company?”. Having a well thought out response shows initiative and a genuine interest in the company.

  • Look at the organisation’s website and social media to build up a good picture of their culture and values.
  • Review any news that might be relevant to the role you’re interviewing for.
  • Google is your friend! Spend a minute setting up Google Alerts to get up-to-date mentions about the company straight to your inbox.

 

2. Know your strengths, and practice talking about them

Talking about your strengths is not something you do every day – most of us worry we’ll sound arrogant or self entitled. But you need to get over that fear if you’re going to ‘sell yourself’ to the interviewer.

In fact, think of the interview as a sales pitch. You have a small window to make your case about why you’re the right person for the job. There’s no time to play small here. Don’t bury your career highlights or mute your strengths. You need to be clear and confident about what your strengths are, and have an ability to articulate them in a way that’s compelling and valuable to the employer.

So, get practicing. Focus on showing a self-awareness of the skills you already have and how you will apply them to the role. Think in ‘benefit’ terms. Your mission is to make the connection between your strengths and the role description so strong that the employer sees you as far more than just another candidate – you’re a match made in heaven!

3. Prepare mini stories

Answer an interviewer’s questions by telling ‘mini stories’ – clear examples of how you have used your strengths and skills over your career to date. Your mini stories are a bit like case studies. They should relate to the interviewer’s questions, be short and to the point.

This is known as the CARL format:

  • Context: provide context of your responsibilities or the challenges you faced.
  • Action: summarise the actions you took.
  • Result: explain what happened as a result of your actions.
  • Learning: identify any key learnings or takeaways.

Dig deep for your stories.

Interviewers are going to ask you about challenges you overcame. It’s one of those questions they love, so give it some thought before you get into the interview. What are the challenges you’ve faced that have really tested and proven your ability to overcome adversity?

Perhaps it was a personal challenge or tackling something daunting for the first time. The story should be authentic and show your strengths.

 

4. Practice makes perfect

Time to get your role play on! Think of the interview as a performance. And as with any performance, practice makes perfect.

You might not want to learn your answers like an actor learns lines, but you should have an idea of how you will answer different questions and practice how you will answer.

Start by rehearsing on your own in front of the mirror, then ask someone you trust to ask you sample questions. It might feel a bit awkward at first, but the experience of speaking your words out loud will give you more confidence for the real thing.

Here’s the important bit…

Don’t just think about what you’re saying, focus on how you’re saying it.

Non-verbal cues and body language are just as important as the words. If what you say is well rehearsed but you’re slumping and struggling to make eye contact, the interviewer will question your confidence, and therefore whether you’re a good fit for the role.

Focus on practicing:

  • a confident tone and pace
  • good posture
  • maintaining eye contact
  • leaning in slightly
  • open body language – no crossed arms.

Record your practice sessions so you can watch them back. It might feel super weird, but this is the best way to see what you need to improve. Is your body language signalling confidence, even if you’re not feeling it? Are you speaking too fast or too sloooooow (*hint, the vast majority of us need to go 20% slower than we think)? Are you sitting upright and leaning in? Work on fine tuning these before the real thing.

 

5. Keep it real

Be yourself. Your best self, that is. First impressions are everything. Many recruiters make judgements about your trustworthiness, likeability and professionalism in the first few seconds, then spend the rest of the interview confirming these opinions.

Try to create an honest connection with the interviewer. This starts before you’ve even started answering questions with two simple things: a warm smile and good eye contact.

Remember, people hire people they can see themselves working with, so at the very least, you want your interviewer to like you! Use those first moments when you meet to build connection and rapport.

 

Over to you

It’s natural to be nervous about interviews, but don’t let your nerves get in the way of showing what you’re capable of. Think of it this way: the fact you were invited to an interview is proof that the employer already believes you can do the job. If they didn’t, they really wouldn’t waste their energy (or time and money) on getting to know you. Their goal now is to find out whether what’s written in your application is the real deal, and how well you’ll fit into the company.

So, set aside any worries you have about a lack of professional experience or skills. Instead, focus on showcasing your fantastic attitude, strengths and enthusiasm. And remember, any interview is YOUR chance to decide if the role or company is right for you too!

Landed a video interview? This can feel more daunting than meeting face-to-face. Learn how to ace your video interview in the Hodie app.