Top Insider Tips for Acing the Interview

By Kara J. Rice
Founder, Managing Director
INNOV8 Talent

In my experience there are some definite rules to interviews, as well as things that candidates can do to tip the scales in their favor. If you think it’s all about increasing your skills and experience, you could be very wrong. Although a great résumé gets your foot in the door, how you interview is often what determines whether you will be offered the job.

I’m going to share with you the top insider tips for both what you should do before your interview and during, to ensure you ace the interview! These will help you beat the competition and provide the best chance of landing your next job.

Preparation Before the Interview

  1. Research: It seems basic enough, but you would be surprised at how many applicants go into the interview without having done this step. By failing to do at least a small amount of prep work before the interview, your lack of knowledge when face to face with the hiring manager and knowing very little about a company will come across as uninformed. This will make you appear to be disinterested in the position and will eliminate you from consideration. 
The key things you should understand are: What the company does?  How they make money?  How they started? Who their customers are? And any news or exciting announcements you can find online about them.  All research can be done by utilizing their website as well as Google searches. Make sure you look at press they received and social media sites for up-to-date information.
  1. What interests you about the company and/or position: By putting together a couple of thoughtful reasons for what excites you about the position or company, you can easily show your interest and can begin to formulate plans about how you can help them if you were to join their team…something that might be asked in an interview! It’s best to focus on something such as: the company mission, a new feature of their product they are launching, a new business line they created, a new target market they are seeking to penetrate, new partnerships they have formed, etc.

  2. Review your résumé: It may have been awhile since you have done this, so make sure you re-review, know your timelines and past job history. It’s also very important now, to make sure your LinkedIn profile matches your résumé. Hiring managers will often check your profile or even ask me to send it along with a submission. This sometimes stumps applicants who are trying to navigate leaving companies and explaining gaps. Be prepared to answer any questions regarding transitions seamlessly and concisely. Remember, it’s not always what you say, but how you say it that can make a huge difference in perception!

  3. Why are you interested in making a move: I find that my hiring managers often weigh this question heavier than I once thought earlier in my career. You always want to prepare for this and it’s often something asked of me, when submitting candidates. Be prepared with some legitimate reasons why you want to make a move without sounding negative about your current employer. 
General examples include:
  • You feel you have accomplished all you can in your current position and are looking for a new challenge.
  • You are ready to make a move into a new industry and apply your knowledge there.
  • The direction of the company has changed and now you feel it’s a great time to join a new organization.
  • You are looking for career growth and feel that would be best with a new organization.
  1. Prepare to answer common interview questions: There are many resources online that can help you understand what these are in general, for various industries, and for specific positions. Take the time to review 10 to 20 of the most common interview questions and how you would go about answering them. This is vital to making sure you avoid fumbling in an interview or going “blank.”

During the Interview

You have completed your prep work and now it’s time for the actual interview! Most interviews will follow a common pathway to obtain the information the hiring manager is seeking, of course there are exceptions, but you can rest assured most scenarios will consist of the below format.

  1. Describe your work history: Most interviewers will dive into this first. You want to be prepared with a brief synopsis highlighting not only your timeline of jobs, but sprinkling in some accomplishments, how you got started within the industry, and making sure they understand some of your best skills/assets. Think of this as your “pitch” and should last about one to two minutes. The way to avoid rambling is to have practiced your career summary many times before the interview.

  2. So why do you want to work here: The next natural step in an interview usually consists of a hiring manager asking why you are interested in the position or why you want to work there. Since you prepared, you will be able to give them a great answer and add to the perception that you are informed and interested. Remember, keep it as positive as possible and be prepared to navigate any possible follow up questions looking for elaboration.

  3. Common Interview Questions: Remember, you practiced for a lot of these, so take your time and don’t panic. It’s ok to ask clarifying questions and make sure you clearly understand what is being asked. If something is challenging or seems to test the limits of your experience, do your best and work through the question to come up with the best answer you can. Sometimes the interviewer intends to push your limits to find out where your skills are and what you need to further your growth. It’s not always a way to eliminate, but to illuminate!

  4. Ask Questions and Reiterate your interest: Candidates who have prepared no questions for their interviewer, are almost always eliminated. I have heard it time and again, “when given the opportunity, they asked no questions…they are out!” This goes back to the perception you don’t care, you didn’t prepare, or you don’t want to work there. Always have two to three insightful questions to ask the hiring manager.
Some examples include: What do you love about working here? Why is this position open? How can I make the biggest impact in my first 90 days if I were to get the chance to come on board? What avenues are available for career growth?
  1. Ending the interview: When the interview has reached a stopping point and your questions have been answered, thank them for the interview and let them know you are excited about what you have heard. Additionally, let them know you are looking to hear back from them regarding next steps in the process. Ask to get their business card. Follow up with a thank you email the following day.  This is an important last step!
Hopefully, this has provided you with insightful insider tips for acing the interview, based on what hiring managers really want and how you can beat out the competition. Never forget that how you present yourself and how you perform in an interview can easily get you the job over someone more experienced. These are all tips I provide candidates working with iNNOV8 Talent clients. Check out our career portal for a chance to work with one, too!

INNOV8 Talent is one of two recruiting agencies partnering with PRSA Houston. Learn more about our Career Connection Program and visit our job bank.

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