The Best Job Interview Tip is Be Prepared

As a Hiring Manager, I’m often asked what is my best job interview tip and I always say: “Be Prepared.” I”m now going to tell you how.

Many times in my role as a Hiring Manager, I’ve had job applicants come into an interview like they just woke up that morning and said to themselves, “I think I’ll go on a job interview today.” They then proceed to snooze through the interview and follow-up a week later to find out why they didn’t get the job.

Boy, could I give these applicants a good job interview tip!

I can tell the applicants who come properly prepared within the first ten minutes of the interview. They are the ones who can give me a well thought-out, 30 second overview of their qualifications (this is usually the first question I ask). If they are particularly good, they relate their qualifications to my specific job, as well as speak knowledgably about my company.

Remember: even if you’re just interviewing for an entry level or clerical job, you can still do your homework.

Here are six job interview tips to prepare you. These will automatically put you ahead of 95% of the job applicants I’ve interviewed over the years.

  • Prepare a 30 second “marketing message” to use when I ask you to “tell me about yourself.” This should be about your job qualifications, NOT about your personal life. At this point, I’m not interested in where you were born, went to school, how many kids you have, etc. It’s all about the things that make you a good candidate for my job opening.
  • Find out the name and title of every person you will meet on the interview. Memorize the names. This is a job interview tip that most applicants, oddly enough, tend to ignore. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask the HR person who set up your interview to provide these details.
  • Have anecdotes ready. This is a job interview tip that is frequently missed. Many times, I’ll ask questions that require you to provide examples of how you handled a difficult challenge or other work situation. These questions often start with a phrase such as, “Tell me about a time when you faced….” Since these questions can be about any subject, they can be difficult to prepare for, but they do follow a pattern. I’m usually interested in a few general categories, such as how you handled conflict, a difficult situation, a problem employee, or one of your success stories. Prepare a good example for each of these areas and one will very likely fit.
  • Do your homework and research the company. The company web site is the best starting place because it will have all the positive things that the company wants you to know. Be sure to do a search on the web site for the name of the Hiring Manager and any others you are scheduled to meet. You just may find out some information about them that will help establish rapport in the interview. Learning about the Hiring Manager is one of the best job interview tips I can give you.
  • Read the common questions you may come across in the interview and practice developing answers that are framed with your accomplishments and qualifications. It’s one thing to say you can do something; it’s another to give examples of things you have done. Be sure to have some good examples of your work that is applicable to that specific job. Your answers to questions will be much stronger as a result.
  • Have some questions prepared that you will ask the Hiring Manager (me). This shows you did your homework and have thought about the position. You should have at least four or five questions of your own, in case some of them will have already been covered by the interviewer. You want to be sure to still have some to ask. Here are some general questions that fit almost any interview:
  • “If I were to ask one of your employees what the best thing is about working here, what would they say?”
  • “Why is this position open?”
  • “Is there a job description I could see?”
  • “Can you tell me about the people I’d be working with? How long have you worked with them?”
  • “How will you measure success in this job?”
  • “What projects will I be working on?”
  • “What do you look for most in a new employee?”
  • “What do you like best about your company? Why?”
  • “What do you see as the most important qualifications for this job?”

Special Warning and job interview tip: The first interview is not the time to ask questions about salary and benefits. Save these types of questions until you’re actually offered the job.

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