Learning how to ace an interview is no simple task. It’s more than answering a few questions and showing up well-dressed. In order to ace an interview, you need preparation, strategy, and a little bit of charm.
If you’ve got an interview that's lined up or just want to get ahead of the hiring process, here's how to ace a job interview!
Days before the interview
You might be thinking that preparing the night before will be enough. Although cramming the night before got you a passing grade in college, it won't help you ace an interview. In order to do well with this, prepare 3-4 days in advance by following these tips.
1. Work on your resume
Thus it’s important to make sure yours stands out. Follow these tips to ensure your resume doesn’t get passed along.
Tailor your resume to the job
You want to ensure your resume matches the position the company is hoping to fill. Submitting your resume without tailoring it to the job is like ordering food that’s not on the menu. Recruiters will overlook your resume.
In order to craft a resume that stands out, pay close attention to the required skills listed in the job description. Whichever skills are listed that match the skills you have, include them.
For example, if a job ad states they are looking for someone detailed oriented, a team player, and organized, make sure those skills are shown on your resume.
Job recruiters are scanning resumes and looking for the skills they listed. Adjusting your resume will help you stand out.
Keep your resume to two pages or less
It’s important that you remember your resume is a summary of your work experience and education, not an autobiography. Keeping it short will help you to select the most relevant information to include.
According to Zety, for entry-level jobs, it’s best to keep your resume to one page, and for more seasoned professionals, it can be two pages maximum.
2. Read beyond the job posting and learn about the company
Imagine showing up to a surf lesson without knowing how to swim. You would seem a little unprepared. The same goes for an interview.
It’s important to know more about the company than what they wrote in the job ad. Having this knowledge shows that you understand a company's mission and shows your dedication.
In addition, the more you know about the company, the easier it will be to answer interview questions such as why you want to work with them and why you are a good fit for the job. More on how to answer those questions below.
3. Practice answering commonly asked questions and behavioral interview questions
Of course, not every interview will be the same, and there is no sure way of knowing which types of questions will be asked. However, there are usually typical questions that almost every employer will present.
Here’s how to ace an interview by practicing these commonly asked questions.
Tell me about yourself
This question may seem simple, but this interview opening question can set the tone for the entire interview when it comes to how to ace a job interview.
The key is to remember what the employers want to know. According to Novoresume.com, there's a simple formula.
They recommend focusing on your past, present, and future.
In order to incorporate all three of these, first talk about your past by mentioning relevant work experience and what you valued from those experiences.
Then focus on what you do now and your recent accomplishments. And finish off by talking about the future, as in, what you hope to accomplish.
The golden rule to help you ace an interview is to not repeat what is on your resume and focus on specific examples and accomplishments.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This is a common question that can be disguised as, “what would your co-workers say you’re good at, and what do you think they’d say you probably need to work on?” Or, “how would you rank yourself on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being expert level) in these particular skills?”
Here’s how to ace an interview with a dynamic answer for this two-part question.
Using the job post as a guideline, choose a strength that you know the recruiters are looking for. These could be leadership skills, communication, or problem-solving.
Whichever skill you choose to highlight, make sure you can give examples or tell a story of when you used that skill.
No one likes talking about things they aren’t good at. A reason why employers ask this question is to see how self-aware you are and how you choose to improve upon your abilities.
For instance, if public speaking is a weakness, be honest in saying that large groups of people intimidate you. Then to complete this answer, share how you are improving upon this skill, such as taking public speaking classes or being more verbal in meetings.
Why would you be a good candidate for the position?
You’ve heard it before, and now you’ll hear it again - refer back to the job posting. Whatever they are looking for in an ideal candidate, describe yourself as that person by overlapping your experiences with the skills they seek.
Weave into your answer information you know about the company's values and mission and how you can help them fulfill that mission. And as you give a dynamic answer, make sure to keep your response to 60 seconds or less.
Answering behavior questions
The above questions are most common. However, depending on the position, you may be asked some behavioral questions. These questions are used to better understand how you would handle certain situations.
Here are some samples of commonly asked behavior questions.
- How do you manage stress on the job?
- Describe a situation when you had to adapt quickly to a change in priorities.
- Tell me about a time when you led a team.
Don’t be intimated. According to interviewguys.com, there is an easy way to answer these questions. Remember the STAR method, which stands for situations, task, action, and results.
When using this method, answer the question with a specific situation, then describe the skill or task used in that situation. Continue by explaining how you took action and what the results were.
4. Update your LinkedIn profile
It may seem that simply submitting your resume is enough. However, with the growing efforts of online businesses, it’s important to have a strong online presence.
In addition, your LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to showcase skills not on your resume.
According to an article by Baylor, Scott & White Health, here are some suggestions to update your profile.
It includes updating your contact information, customizing your headline, gathering recommendations from previous colleagues and employers, creating a unique URL, uploading a professional-looking photo for your profile, and using your summary as your elevator pitch.
5. Talk to previous coworkers or references
To really know how to ace an interview, you need to know how others perceive you. People that you have worked with can be vital resources for you when it comes to gaining insight into how you work.
You don’t have to mention to your current co-workers that you are interviewing for other jobs, but you can mention that you want to gain some insight and reflect on your skills as an employee.
When speaking to past co-workers, ask questions such as, what do you enjoy about working with me? How have I been helpful in completing X tasks? What would you say is one of my strengths as an employee?
Getting specific feedback with stories and details will help you to answer interview questions with ease.
And if you are wary about asking co-workers, you can ask friends and family about what qualities they appreciate most about you.
Day of the interview
The day of the interview can be exciting but also terrifying. If you’ve followed the previous advice so far, you’re nearly ready to ace the interview. Here are a few more things to remember.
6. Put yourself in the right mindset
On the day of the interview, you may have a million thoughts racing through your head.
It’s easy to start focusing on negative thoughts and filling your mind with what-ifs. Instead, put yourself in a positive and relaxed state of mind.
In order to clear your mind of self-doubt, do something physical. This can be going for a run or yoga, whatever will calm your nervous system. In addition, try repeating positive affirmations such as “ I am ready, I am worthy, I am confident.”
Having a clear mindset is the answer to how to ace a job interview.
7. Dress to impress
There is the expression that clothes don’t make the person, but they can give you an extra boost of confidence. Learn how to ace an interview by dressing to impress.
Dressing for virtual interviews
It’s easy to want to dress down for a virtual interview. After all, most cameras don’t show more than your shoulders.
However, job recruiters still notice how put together you are from the shoulders up. Simply making sure your hair is nicely combed, you have good lighting, and a clean background can give a positive impression.
Dressing for in-person interviews
When dressing for a face-to-face interview, you want to be mindful of the work environment and dress accordingly.
If it’s a business environment, you’ll want to wear more formal attire in dark colors. Think a pantsuit, or a long skirt, knee length or longer, and a blouse.
For a more casual work environment, blazers, nice shirts, and longer skirts are good options also.
8. Arrive early
Arriving early for an interview has many advantages, whether the interview is in-person or virtual. Here’s how to ace an interview by taking advantage of the extra time.
Virtual interview arrival
Siting yourself in front of your computer five to ten minutes before your interview is a great opportunity to test your technology.
Make sure the camera and microphone are working. Test the speed of your internet and make sure you have all the correct links.
In-person interview arrival
Arriving early will give you extra time to observe the work environment. You can see if workers are interacting with each other, do they look happy, etc. In addition, arriving early helps you to look professional.
9. Remember to speak professionally
By now, you know how to answer the interview questions, but here are a few things to remember.
- Answer questions with examples.
- Respond with straightforward answers, don’t ramble.
- Smile and make eye contact.
10. Be sure to ask some questions at the end of the interview
It can be a little intimidating to ask questions at the end when you’re trying to ace an interview, but they could be the icing on the cake.
When you reach this point of the interview, ask questions such as:
- How would you describe your organization’s culture?
- What does a typical day look like in this role?
- How do you help your staff grow professionally?
Asking questions will also help you get better insight into what it’s like working for that company.
After the interview
Now that you know how to ace a job interview, you may think that your work ends once you shake hands and wait for their call. Yet there is one more thing you can do to make you stand out from the other candidates.
11. Send a thank you letter
Sending a thoughtful and simple card saying that you appreciate the time they took to interview you shows empathy and compassion. Two skills that are important for any role.
Showing that you appreciate your interview experience can help you secure the job you’re applying for or help recruiters keep you in mind for future positions.
Leverage these tips for how to ace an interview!
As you can see, in order to ace a job interview, it takes time, preparation, and practice. When you take the time to rehearse commonly asked interview questions, dress professionally, and show confidence through making eye contact, smiling, and asking questions, you can be the ideal candidate.
Yet the most important thing to remember on how to ace an interview is to simply be yourself. Authenticity is the ultimate tool that every recruiter is looking for. They are looking for people to show their best selves and be a positive addition to the team.