Whether you have been in the job market for some time or you’re just starting out, job interviews are always an essential part of the recruiting process. An interview is effectively a screening process that companies use to differentiate between individuals who look promising on paper. Making it to an interview already demonstrates that you have the background skills your employer is looking for. Now it’s up to you to make that first impression last.
Many times you will be competing against candidates with very similar accomplishments, and there is only one way to stand out from the crowd. Show your employer why you want to be there. Do your research on the company and its particular culture and know ahead of time what you can bring to the table to help them grow. Anyone they interview will be qualified, intelligent, and driven – but employers want someone who will bring something more exciting to the table. What can you do for them? Be concrete, be creative, and show that you are more than just smart.
#2: NEVER open a sentence with an excuse or apology
Interviewers hear things like this constantly: “I know I don’t have a finance degree, I know I didn’t have an internship with your company”, etc. These are the kind of things you want to say at home around family and friends when you are secretly freaking out about your interview the next day – NOT to your employer! Work with what you have and highlight your redeeming qualities. Relate non job-specific experiences to your new employer in creative ways. So you worked for a summer as an ambulance driver and now you’re applying for a position in finance? Great! That experience shows that you can handle stress.
#3: Be succinct and do not ramble
Interviewers are people too, and like all people, they can get bored.
- Don’t take 5 minutes to answer a question
- Don’t give one word answers
- Don’t drone; keep the interviewer interested
Remember, you are selling yourself to this individual. Think of other examples of sales. It’s often the personality – the excitement – the way the product is presented, that keeps us coming back for more. Sell yourself effectively, and your interviewer won’t be able to let you go.
#4: Explain Yourself
Interviewers love to give brainteasers.
- How many passengers leave JFK airport on a given day?
- If this table was full of pennies, do you think they could stack up to measure this building?
If you get stuck, explain how you would approach the problem if you don’t know the answer. Interviewing is less about getting answers right and more about showing the interviewer that you are an effective problem solver. Companies want to know that you are capable of taking complex problems and breaking them down to find an answer. They are more concerned with how you think than with what you know.
#5: Count. If you are asked for 3 examples, don’t give 2
This blunder is made more often than should be allowed. It’s a no-brainer kind of mistake that you can easily watch out for and avoid – (please do!) It will make your interviewer’s job a lot easier if you mess something like this up, and by that I mean that you will probably be overlooked on the spot. You’re smarter than that – don’t let happen to you!
#6: Be able to explain everything in your resume
Your resume has been your stand-in until this point, and your employer is very likely to refer to it for clarification and explanation, especially if something you have done stands out. Be prepared with answers to any question about your past internship or work experience. Have examples ready to show your impact and what you personally accomplished during your time there.