You have put in the time and effort to build the perfect resume, have used all of the tricks in your arsenal to stand out, and to your absolute delight — you’ve received an email inviting you to a job interview.
Receiving an offer to interview can be a very exciting time, especially if you’ve been on a job hunt for weeks, months, or even years with no previous success. However, it can also make you feel quite anxious about what is to come. Especially if you don’t have lots of general experience with job interviews.
At this point, you may find yourself wondering about the type of questions you’ll be asked, how to answer them correctly, and whether or not you’ve got what it takes to attain the role you’re interviewing for.
But you don’t have to worry! There are a few things you can do to improve your interview performance while remaining professional at the same time.
From handling common interview questions to making use of the job description and researching the company, you can make a great first impression in your job interview by following these 20 tips.
Table of Contents
- 1. Research The Industry And Company
- 2. Clarify Your “Selling Points” And The Reasons You Want The Job
- 3. Anticipate The Interviewer’s Concerns And Reservations
- 4. Prepare For Common Interview Questions
- 5. Line Up Your Questions For The Interviewer
- 6. Practice, Practice, Practice
- 7. Dress For The Job Or Company
- 8. Practice Good Nonverbal Communication
- 9. Take Care To Answer The Questions
- 10. Raise Your Confidence Levels By Preparing
- 11. Practise Interview A Friend
- 12. Be Succinct With Your Answers
- 13. Make Use Of The Job Description
- 14. Watch Taped Interviews
- 15. Use Appropriate Language
- 16. Follow Up After The Interview
- 17. Prepare Questions To Ask Them
- 18. Arrive Early
- 19. Make And Bring An Interview Survival Kit
- 20. Have Fun And Try To Enjoy The Process!
1. Research The Industry And Company
Research plays a huge part in any interview process, regardless of the industry or specific field that you’re venturing into. It’s a necessity for anyone looking to secure a new role.
Before you attend your interview, you must carry out sufficient research to broaden your knowledge of the company and the specific industry you’re about to venture into.
Your interviewer will be keen to find out about everything you know. They will also want to discover qualities you possess that will help you to fit in with the already existing team.
Your interviewer will also likely ask you what you know about the company. While there might be lots to remember, you can focus your search by dividing it into three easy sections:
You must demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable about and in tune with what the company hopes to achieve in the next few years. You should also be aware of any challenges they face and how they are planning to tackle them. After all, the goal is to progress with the company – so you’ll want to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success.
This is more short-term than the vision and refers mainly to delegated tasks to be completed daily (to shape your daily workload.) Knowing the company’s mission indicates that you’re ready to begin working.
Nothing defines a company as its core values. Acknowledging the core values of the company you’re applying to makes the values easier to adapt to. To a keen interviewer, this will be evident through your body language and your words, which could significantly influence the interview in your favor.
2. Clarify Your “Selling Points” And The Reasons You Want The Job
You might not be used to talking about yourself, let alone having to discuss your “selling points.” But if you want to improve your interview performance then this is exactly what you must do!
Your unique selling points (USPs) will represent your brand to the interviewer. Prepare to go into each interview with three to five key selling points in mind, including specific qualities that make you an excellent candidate for the position.
Have real-life examples for each USP you’ve prepared. For example, if one of your USPs is communication, you can say something like: “I am a great communicator, and was once able to persuade a client to…” Keep things authentic to the skills you have and also relevant to the job description.
You must also prepare to share what interests you about the role, any rewards you find valuable, and the abilities it requires that you possess. Clearly stating USPs and reasons for wanting the job is crucial as the employer’s job is to select the greatest candidate for the position.
They won’t give you an offer if they don’t believe you’re interested in the role!
3. Anticipate The Interviewer’s Concerns And Reservations
Each industry is competitive in terms of the number of jobs on offer. This means there are usually always more candidates seeking a position than there are actual jobs available. Because of this, interviewers are always looking for reservations and concerns to narrow down the list of candidates.
This means they must be quite to the point with the selection point. A key thing you can do is put yourself into their position and figure out a few reasons why an interviewer might be a little too reluctant to hire you.
Make a list of skills you possess and organize them in terms of your strengths and weaknesses. This gives you an open opportunity to evaluate your skillset and look for reasons why you may miss out on a job.
You’ll then be able to prepare a defense response; “You might be thinking that I’m not a great fit for this position because of [their concern]. However, you should know that I am [the reason why they shouldn’t be concerned].”
4. Prepare For Common Interview Questions
There are thousands of common interview questions out there. And you’ve probably experienced your fair share of them throughout your career so far!
The best piece of advice for any interview is to make a list of questions that you’re most likely to be asked, given personal factors such as your age and job status (are you about to graduate? or Seeking a summer internship?) If you anticipate relevant questions, you’re likely going to find it easier to answer them.
These may include questions and statements such as “Tell me about yourself”, “Why should we hire you?”, and “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.” These questions are quite open so remember to be concise and specific with your answers!
With this type of common interview questions, you can essentially prepare a script to structure what you want to say. By doing this, you’ll have a pre-prepared understanding of exactly what the interviewer will be expecting from you, so make sure to use it to your advantage!
5. Line Up Your Questions For The Interviewer
While you can prepare for some of the questions the interviewer asks you, you can come up with questions for them, too. This gives you ample opportunity to find out more about the company, what they do, and their values.
Any questions you ask must demonstrate your understanding and knowledge of the company, along with your serious interest in starting a role with them. You could ask some general questions to get a feel for the company or may want to inquire more about the specific requirements of the role.
While these are prime examples of ways you can show an interest in the company, there are no limitations on what you can and cannot ask! This means you can come up with some of your own more specific questions.
You could inquire about the following:
- The job and what it entails
- People employed by the company
- Workplace incentives
If you have a series of interviews within the same company, ask each person about their personal experiences.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
Like many other things in life, there are no secrets to a successful interview, only practice!
While you may have an answer prepared in your head for a specific question, saying it out loud might be a completely different story. This is especially true if you’re feeling the pressure of an interview situation.
Whether you’re applying for your first job or are seeking ways to improve interview performance, you’ll always benefit from some practice. Not only is hosting practice interviews a great, stress-free way to sharpen your skills, but you also have the chance to build your confidence all at the same time.
Making time to review generic interview questions will enable you to develop effective answers that could mean the difference between getting the job or not getting it. You can use a DIY interview to practice your answers.
Feel free to tape-record your answers to identify areas for improvement, or enlist the help of a close friend or family member to validate your answers. Whatever method you decide on, you can then analyze your previous answers and tailor your new ones accordingly.
7. Dress For The Job Or Company
It’s always good to dress to impress during an interview. After all, you’ll want to make a good impression on the interviewer! Ensuring you have dressed appropriately and well-groomed is a great way to establish yourself.
Your outfit will depend on the company and the specific job position that you’re seeking. So make sure you carry out relevant research to figure out whether you need to opt for more formal attire or whether you can dress down a little bit. If in doubt, dress it up a bit!
If you’re interviewing at a company based in a traditional industry such as insurance or banking, opting for formal corporate attire is always a good choice. This generally includes a suit and tie for men and a skirt and blouse or a pantsuit for women.
If you can, it might be in your best interest to contact the company directly to inquire about the company dress code so that you can dress accordingly. This will show your optimism about working with the company and may also work in your favor.
8. Practice Good Nonverbal Communication
Regardless of the industry that you’re interviewing for, having good nonverbal communication is crucial. In addition to skills and experience, an interviewer or a recruiter wants to know whether your personality and temperament match the company culture.
Nonverbal communication refers to the way you communicate with other people without having to speak. This may include physical gestures, facial expressions, and the way you position yourself.
Your body will subconsciously send cues to the interviewer throughout an interview. Because of this, your nonverbal communication has the potential to contradict your spoken communication or reinforce it.
They will evaluate you on several key factors. Specifically, the way you present yourself, how engaged you are in the interview, and your overall body language.
By practicing good nonverbal communication before your interview and catching yourself before you do something that suggests your disinterest, you will likely see a huge improvement in your interview performance.
9. Take Care To Answer The Questions
One of the most important things you must do is listen to the interviewer. From the very start, the interviewer will be providing you with relevant information that you’ll need throughout your interview. If you aren’t taking the time to listen, you may be missing out on valuable opportunities.
The same goes for all of the questions they ask. Consider what they are asking you and then tailor your answers. After all, they’ll want to know the exact skills you possess that make you such a great fit for the role and the company.
Taking the time to form an insightful answer to questions asked in an interview has the potential to put you ahead of the other hopeful applicants, and may result in an offer if you also possess the necessary traits to fit in with the company! Taking care when answering also guarantees that you get to the bottom of their requirements.
In all of your answers make sure to be positive and sincere. And remember, honesty is always the best policy!
10. Raise Your Confidence Levels By Preparing
Some people may be concerned about rehearsing their answers in favor of sounding overly polished or “canned” during an interview. But you don’t have to worry about this!
Even knowing a little bit about the general things you want to say during an interview will help you to sound more articulate and confident when the time comes!
Preparing for an interview can help you play to and emphasize your strengths, instead of focusing on your weaknesses. You can practice answering different questions with different tones. However, you must make sure that you sound confident rather than arrogant as this could be a turn-off for many employers.
Being able to prepare for an interview also means that you’ll be able to convey relevant information about yourself when prompted. It gives you the chance to filter out unnecessary words and focus on what is being asked of you so that the interviewer can get a clear picture of who you are and what you do.
Knowing what you want to say will make it easier to maintain eye contact with the interviewer, demonstrating your interest in the role and appreciation for the employer’s time.
11. Practise Interview A Friend
There seems to be something almost taboo about practicing answers and preparing for an interview. But it’s a completely normal thing that may reduce nervousness, anxiety, and errors. It could also set you in an even better position than you would’ve been before!
Whether it’s a shoulder to lean on, or an ear to listen to, we all need a bit of external help on occasion. Family and friends are great resources for providing this type of help and support.
Maybe you feel a bit embarrassed to ask for their help with an interview, or you think you’re a burden, but the reality is; that hosting a practice interview can provide a fresh perspective that could completely alter the way you approach interview questions!
Because of this, a mock interview with a friend should be prepared for and taken as seriously as a real interview.
If you want to use this tip to improve interview performance, you should pick a friend with lots of relevant experience who will also be completely honest with you.
12. Be Succinct With Your Answers
To improve your interview performance, all of your answers must be brief and clearly expressed. This will keep the interviewer engaged with what you’re saying, and will also allow them to see exactly what you can bring to the role.
Interviews are highly stressful situations at the best of times. The added pressure of giving a relevant answer in an already nerve-wracking situation can have a significant impact on the way you answer a particular question.
As a result, you may give far too much detail and may be influenced to say the wrong thing.
Unless your interviewer is specifically asking you to provide more details or expand on a particular answer, you must keep all of your answers succinct. However, this doesn’t mean you should give a one-word answer! Instead, simply provide the answer that is relevant to the situation.
Keep external stories limited and to the point. For example, don’t provide excessive background information for a particular situation unless it’s necessary to demonstrate your growth as a working professional. Mentioning particular results should be enough!
13. Make Use Of The Job Description
A job description is essentially a cheat sheet to achieving your dream role. It gives you all of the necessary information for you to then focus directly on the interview. Many candidates seem to forget that the job description plays such a large part in the whole interview process.
The job description contains all the necessary qualities that the company is looking for. Keeping it on hand throughout the interview is an excellent way to ensure you are hitting all of the requirements. It can also instill some confidence in what you’re saying.
You’ll also get some valuable information about the values of the company and their expectations of you as a worker.
A generic job description will include specific things such as “looking for a candidate that has proficient IT skills” or “looking for someone who can prioritize their workload.” Make sure to touch on all of the points mentioned in this description using a real-life example to exemplify such qualities.
14. Watch Taped Interviews
Another way you can improve interview performance is to watch previously taped interviews. Your best bet is to find an interview that took place either for a similar job as the one you’ve applied for or one in the same industry. That way, the questions will be largely the same.
Take your time analyzing the way the interviewee responds. You should make some notes about their verbal and physical responses to everything that the interviewer says. Specifically, focus on what they do effectively and the things they are weaker in.
Not only does this enable you to create appropriate responses using your own experiences, but it also allows you to learn about what to say and what to avoid in your job interview. This could prove to be a huge advantage in your interview.
This can be exceptionally useful for a variety of reasons. The main one being it helps to increase your confidence levels which may result in you performing better throughout the interview.
15. Use Appropriate Language
As we have already established, interviews can be very stressful and nerve-wracking situations to be in. Your interviewer will do everything in their power to make you feel at ease as they know what it’s like to be on your side of the interview.
The last thing they’d want is for you to feel scared, uncomfortable, or intimidated!
While this can be reassuring and may even encourage you to begin talking more openly, you must be mindful of what you say. After all, it’s still a professional situation—and you must act appropriately.
Use language that is appropriate for the workplace, that showcases your capability for the job, and also highlights your professionalism. And remember that your interviewer is not your friend, no matter how friendly and approachable they may be.
Refrain from using slang, colloquial terms, or any type of inappropriate language. You should adopt an appropriate tone that fits within the workplace culture. This will show that you are respectful and professional, and will also prevent you from overstepping from your candidate position.
16. Follow Up After The Interview
After you have concluded your interview, sending a thank you letter or email to your potential employer is a very practical step to take. Customize the note by referring to specific points of discussion, for example, “I was particularly excited [or interested by] what you revealed about…”
Sending a follow-up note according to the interviewer’s preference will create a lasting impression of you in their mind and may even put you into their good graces, making success a much more likely outcome.
In this correspondence, you should reinforce your interest in the role and your appreciation for the interview opportunity. Expressing your gratitude is an easy way of showing your respect for the company and demonstrating your ability to act professionally.
You should keep things light during the follow-up process to avoid writing another resume, or re-stating things that you already spoke about with your interviewer.
And if you don’t get the job, you can still send a thank you note to the employer expressing interest in future opportunities.
17. Prepare Questions To Ask Them
Based on your answers and the information you have gathered throughout the process, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to create an interactive interview session.
As we’ve mentioned above, there is no limit to the number or type of questions you can ask your interviewer. As long as they are relevant to the job and are asked professionally, you should be good to go.
Preparation is key for any successful interview. Asking questions is an important way of making sure that your interviewer knows just how keen you are to secure the role and begin your career with the company.
You can prepare generic questions such as:
- What do you expect from your team members?
- What is a typical day like at your company?
- Where do you see the company in five years?
These will grant you insight into what the company is generally like, and also provides you with the opportunity to see how you could grow with the company.
18. Arrive Early
It has been said that arriving 15 minutes early is the best time for an in-person interview. This time can be used effectively to mentally prepare for the interview, complete unfinished paperwork, or even review your resume.
Arriving early to an interview also means that the hiring manager has the time to personally greet you and even review your resume before commencing the interview. They might even choose to begin the interview early if everything is set up and ready.
Arriving early can also improve your chances of success and your overall performance throughout the interview. It also means that you have a couple of valuable minutes to practice breathing exercises to calm any nerves that you may be experiencing.
The key to improving interview performance with this tip is planning. If you live half an hour away from the venue, leave at least 45 minutes before your interview so that you have some extra time in case something goes wrong.
19. Make And Bring An Interview Survival Kit
There’s a lot to get right in an interview. And despite how prepared you may feel for a particular situation, there is a large chance that things might go wrong.
This means making sure that you’re fully prepared for just about any situation to occur is an essential way of pitching your skills in the best possible way.
Regardless of whether you’re easily flustered and forgetful, or have a great memory in stressful situations, you’ll benefit from making and bringing an interview survival kit with you. After all, you can never be too prepared!
An interview survival kit may include the following:
- Additional copies of your resume
- A copy of the resume or job application that you submitted
- Paper containing key points to prevent you from losing focus
- A datasheet that contains the information about your previous employment
- Black pens
- A spare notebook
- Letters of recommendation (if necessary)
- A thank you note
- Prepared questions for the interviewer
You’re being observed from the moment you step into the building. So if you have idle hands waiting for your interview to begin, you can flick through your survival kit to show how prepared you are.
20. Have Fun And Try To Enjoy The Process!
Last but not least, having fun and enjoying the interview process is the best way to improve your interview performance!
It’s natural to be nervous. But that should never stop you from enjoying the process! A lot of interviewers will have spent time and energy choosing your resume, contacting you, and organizing the meeting.
At this point, they’re already invested in you as a potential addition to the company. You just have to prove that your personality matches your qualifications!
Interviews are also a great chance to satiate your curiosity by learning more about the company and the people you could be working with. If you’re enjoying yourself – still in a professional capacity – then you are far less likely to be nervous. This means you’re less likely to make a big mistake.
The best advice is to relax, have fun, and be yourself. As soon as you let your guard down in terms of your nerves, you’ll be having fun in no time at all!
These are some of the top tips you can use to improve your overall performance during your next job interview. Though it may not seem like it, job interviews aren’t the be-all and end-all, and your worth isn’t determined by a particular outcome.
Provided you follow the strategies mentioned above then you’ll be as well prepared as any other candidate that your interviewer has seen before. Doing so makes achieving a successful outcome much more likely.
As long as you remain professional, offer concise yet relevant answers to all questions asked, and are respectful of both the company and your interviewer, you’ll likely have a great experience!
And, if the company doesn’t end up working out to be a good fit, you can use the answers you give during the interview (and your experience in general) to move forward in your search for another job and in your career.