20 Tips on Interviewing for Your Dream Career

January 13, 2021
20 Tips on Interviewing for Your Dream Career

After job seekers have tackled the daunting task of completing as many applications as possible, they must prepare for the next step: interviews. Knowing how to interview well is a key part of stepping into your first stage of career success.

Poor performance in interviews can be caused by several factors. It may have to do with what the candidate emphasizes in their presentation, incompatible values, culture clash, poor preparation, a misunderstanding of the required skills, or even a lack of interest. Even when applicants are asked to upload video responses rather than participate in a live interview, the process can be stressful. Applicants may not know how to answer some of the 5-minute questions the video requests of them, and there is no guarantee that their employers will be tracking all of the materials a specific candidate sends them.

Generally, people have an easier time completing tasks once they have gathered information and collected their thoughts. Interviews are no exception. Following these tips for a successful job interview will build your confidence and help you show that you are the right candidate for the position.

1. Greet the Employer

The first person you will be seeing as you enter the company's hiring door is the employer. You may or may not know the employer that well. Knowing their name, although not required, is helpful. Not only is it a courtesy to greet the person you will be speaking with during the interview, but knowing their name and saying it would be considered a compliment.

2. Have a Checklist of Your Skills in Mind

When you applied for a position, you must have seen some value that your skillset could bring to the company. Put some thought into what skills the employer will value and what you have to offer. Start with the specific skills listed in their job posting. Be prepared to describe experiences that have helped you gain insight into the field. Having a portfolio of your work can also help demonstrate that you have the skills required for the job.

Using the STAR Method, you will be able to expand your responses to questions about your past experiences. For instance, a lot of employers will ask if you have ever faced a situation where you were expected to solve a problem. This gives you the opportunity to describe the task and the consequent action that you had to take. Explain how you achieved successful results, using concrete metrics where possible. Using statistics would bring brighter pictures to your employer's memory when they would be interviewing many other candidates.

3. Show What You Know About the Company

Employers will want to know if you know anything about their company. Not only does this give them an idea of how excited you are to work at the company, but it also lets them know that you understand the values and objectives that the company strives to live by. It is essential that you share the same values to succeed in the company. Otherwise, the relationship between the employer and you may not last long.

Glassdoor also states that the character of the company matters: '90% of job seekers say that it's important to work for a company that embraces transparency.' If the company you are interviewing for does not align with your character, avoid saying anything other than what you like about their objectives, the company's history, and the type of projects that they usually work on. If they post on social media, bring up some recent posts. If they are presented in well-known research journals or financial reports, discuss what you found. If the company has published any articles, you can talk about what you learned from those articles.

Conversations are meant to flow. If there is a receiver, there should be a messenger. In this case, the employer takes on the role of the receiver. As a messenger, you must do your part in presenting your findings about the company. Whether the source comes from books, articles, videos, or reviews, your job is to present this material about the company in as detailed a manner as possible.

4. Dress for Success

Trying to look presentable is beneficial. How you dress can say a lot about your attitude, motivation, and your level of self-care. After all, an employer wants to see if you have the right energy work at their company. You can start thinking about the appropriate attire. Shop around for clean shirts and pants. Colors do not matter as much, however, if the company focuses on a certain color for their dress code, you can impress them by wearing clothes that match that color. This shows that you know about the company more than just about their job requirements.

5. Demonstrate Good Time Management

Being punctual shows that you know the value of time. Since time is money for most businesses, they will be respecting someone that respects their time. If possible, try to arrive at the interview site 10 minutes before the appointment. That way, you would have time walking to the door and answering the lobby attendant, if there is one present. You do not want to feel rushed. You want to give yourself enough time to calm down and organize your thoughts before speaking to the interviewer.

6. Avoid Fight-or-Flight Responses

Being reactive is not useful in professional settings. It does not solve problems, nor does it improve the mood of any situation. Try to stay calm and avoid rushing your answers to an employer's questions. The calmer you stay, the easier it will be to process questions and give coherent answers. Body language is also very important. Poor body language can deter you from gaining your employer's trust.

Examples of poor body language are indirect eye contact, impulsive actions, and nervous uttering. Indirect eye contact can question the interviewer if you are confident or interested in speaking with them or even the company. Try looking at the employer while you talk as much as possible. Impulsivity can make a bad impression because they can think that you lack self-control.

Try being more grounded and move in a calm manner, whether you are handing your resume or completing a quiz given on the computer. There are many applicants interviewing for the position and the last thing the employer wants is feeling uncomfortable. Your nervous uttering can send the wrong impression of whether you truly are prepared to talk to the interviewer. Try organizing your thoughts and talking in a logical sequence.

7. Prepare for the Weakness Question

As humans, we all have at least one weakness. Everyone knows this. The reason why the employer usually asks this question in an interview is not to disqualify you. Just like in the situational example, they are trying to see how well you overcome obstacles. If you have not considered this weakness question before the interview, an example of how you would have tackled a problem in a way that you thought you could not have achieved is the following:

I had difficulty talking to hostile customers and therefore, there was a lack of sales. However, in the past few months, I have been able to gain the courage to speak louder and ask more questions to them. This led to a series of conversations with each of the customers who I serviced that overall increased sales by 10%.

8. Prepare for the Strengths Question

This question may be both confusing and easy to answer. It is confusing because you have to consider the skills the employer is looking for in a candidate and then look for correlating strengths. Rather than simply listing skills word-for-word from the job posting, go a little deeper.

If this is a technically demanding position, how scientific and detailed are you? Can you code software with precision in a short amount of time? If this is a communications-driven position, how fluent are you in your conversations? Are you an active listener? Are you able to build rapport and connect with others? Think about what character traits will make the case that you're a good fit for the job.

9. Practice Those Practice Questions

Practice questions are not only present in schools — they also exist in job interviews. If you have serious doubts about how well the interview will go, that may indicate a lack of preparation on your part. Grab a pen and list all the possible questions that a potential employer might ask. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why would you choose this company over others? How well informed are you about this company?
  • What motivated you to apply for this position?
  • What makes you qualified for this position? Do you have the particular skills or experience the job requires?
  • Would you like to add more about what makes you qualified for this position?
  • How comfortable would you be in a situation like X, and how would you handle it?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Of course, the specific questions will vary depending on the company and interviewer. If you are applying for a job in a technically demanding field, you may be asked questions like:

  • How would you rate your proficiency in performing X task, on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • If you had a bug problem in a certain programming area, what are some of the steps you would take to solve this problem? List step by step on how you would go about it.
  • Can you describe how you got started in this field and what you are hoping to achieve?

10. Make Sure You Fit Into the Company Culture

Company culture is more important than many people think. There is a reason why, according to Cubiks, '90% of recruiters have rejected candidates due to their lack of cultural fit.' Candidates who are able to adapt to a company's atmosphere are far more likely to be assertive during the interview and succeed in the workplace. This is to further say that qualifications alone may not be enough to earn you a position in a specific company. Try to research for companies that maybe match the environment you grew up in. For instance, if you grew up in a culture where quietness was given importance, you would not want to apply to a company where they always have social events, such as wild parties.

11. Organize Your Thoughts During the Interview

As soon as you sit in the chair and face your potential employer, quickly organize the items you will be discussing in your head. Then, regardless of the order of questions the employer uses during the interview, you will at least have a clear idea of what you need to say. For example, if you have a long history of jobs and education, have your recent job at the top of the list and work your way back from there when the employer asks about your job history. With your mental outline prepared, not only will you be calm, but the employer will be impressed by how you think. You can apply this same approach to questions about your educational background.

Impress your employers further with your thinking process when they present a question that call for a step-by-step answer. This type of question is more about how you solve problems than about coming up with one right answer. The interview will be looking at the quality of your response and what it shows about your analytical and critical thinking skills.

When you begin talking about your experience, keep in mind that employers want you to explain how your experience fits into the job requirements. Although they will be evaluating your credentials, stating your relevant experience serves a second purpose: It gives you the opportunity to offer supporting examples or details to persuade them that you meet the job requirements.

12. Be in the Know

Read the latest news, reports, web pages, magazines, journals, and any other resources you can find about the company and industry. Even if the employer does not ask extraneous questions about specific knowledge, being in the know makes it possible to impress them by adding insightful comments. For instance, if you recently read about new techniques related to biotechnology and viruses, and your company happens to be a biotechnology company, you may be able to work in comments about how those techniques could be useful in one of the company's upcoming lab projects.

13. Be Technologically Savvy

Having a simple video ready may not be enough to get you a job. If you are doing a virtual interview, you can take a more proactive approach in how you come across to employers. Sign up with Jabord. Not only will their upgraded system help your personality shine through, but everything is included for your convenience. From your skillsets to tag content, employers will be able to see your authenticity through your online presence more clearly. Your information will be stored in the system, allowing employers from all over the world to see who you are even before your interview begins.

14. Review Similar Job Postings

Look into what each company's job description says. You can do this by visiting many job postings online. Depending on what field you are looking to get into, most companies will list their job requirements in their job advertisements. Most of them are not strikingly different from one another, which will help you relax. Interviews are less stressful when you have a good idea of the skills, education, and experience that are valued in your field.

Once you read about the specific company to which you are applying, you can let their job posting shape your answers. If you have a specific skill in multi-pipetting rather than a general skill of pipetting, this is what you should focus on in your answer. Look for a question that will give you an opportunity to showcase that skill. For instance, the interview may ask, 'What sets you apart from the other candidates?' This question would give you an opening to mention your multi-pipetting skillset.

15. Have a Notepad Next to You

Taking notes should become a habit rather than a chore. Since habits create your lifestyle, being disciplined about taking solid notes wherever you go should serve you well. Although it is best to memorize what you will be saying as an interviewee, it is fine to sometimes glance at some of the questions you intended to ask. Employers want to know what your questions are, so you do not have to worry too much about being perfect.

16. Have the Right Mindset

Many personal development programs promote the concept of having the right mindset. This is because without the right mentality, it is hard to reach any goal — including work objectives. During the interview, you will want to show your employers that you came to the interview with a positive attitude. This will be evident in the way you answer questions. Remember, people with a more positive outlook have a happier work life, as well as the ability to achieve greater results.

17. Make Connections in Your Answers

Teachers encourage their students to relate certain topics to each other. The same principle can be applied to job interviews. For example, imagine the company you are interviewing for works in the business of cloning corn. In answer to a question about solving the shortage of corn, you could reference a book or research article you read that introduced a new cloning technique. You could then discuss how you worked in similar industries and that you would love to apply this new technique to raise revenue.

Having a more well-rounded response rather than a series of scattered answers will make you look more professional and competent. It shows that you know your material and understand how to be quick on your feet in any situation that arises. Employers will look at you as a reliable individual that they can trust in with any complicated matter that the company may encounter.

18. Make Peace With Your Past

Even if you have a troubled history, speak well of your past. Do not bring up unnecessary negative comments, whether this is regarding your coworkers, managers, the type of work you did, or the company itself. Doing so can unnecessarily turn a normal interview into an unpleasant experience.

19. Use Your References as Your Support System

While not every employer requires information about your past employers, most do. Having good references can help fill in details about your experience and work ethic. The kind of references that you should list are those that would best describe your experiences. You do not have to necessarily ask your past employers to give you the references, although you could if you wished to have a written reference. Depending on the job you are applying for, these references are for the purpose of explaining your job accomplishments further.

Good references are individuals that can speak to your specific skills, character, and experience based on their relationship with you — whether that be personal, or professional. For example, here are some examples of individuals that would be strong references:

  • Previous managers.
  • Previous employees.
  • Professors.
  • Leadership at past volunteer work.

Don't be afraid to inform your references of the specific skills and experience that you think makes you a strong applicant.

20. Ask the Right Questions

Many applicants neglect to ask questions of a potential employer, but this can be a mistake. There is a reason why many, if not all, interviews end with this question. The truth is that asking questions shows interest in the company. It gives the impression that the interview is not solely a dull meet-and-greet session. The employer will be excited that you are actually engaged in the conversation.

Put this job interview advice into practice by asking questions like the following:

  • Are there any other duties for the position that were not stated in the job advertisement?
  • When you described the topic in this paper, did you mean to say that...?
  • What projects are coming up that will be starting in the next week or month?
  • Will you be publishing this research you conducted?
  • How will my work performance judged during my trial period? Will this same measurement be applied after the probational period ends?
  • What are some of the struggles that the company has been facing during these past two years?
  • I have been reading your sales reports for a long time. I see that the company's profit has grown by 11% during the last three years. Is that success due to the new expansion that the company had five years ago?

Interviews can be stressful, but they don't have to be overwhelming. In fact, whether your interview will take place in person or remotely, the process becomes very straightforward and simple once you know what to expect and how to respond. With the right mindset, preparation, qualities, and diligent reasoning, you will be more relaxed than nervous during an interview. Consistently practicing and applying these tips on how to interview for a job will help you impress employers and land the job of your dreams.