Some tips for your next interview

In my time, I’ve interviewed over 1,000 people (counting the screening interviews I’ve done at job fairs — I’ve done a number of job fairs). I don’t think that qualifies me as an expert — I don’t think that you can ever really be an interviewing expert — but it does mean that I’ve seen more than enough people to get a pretty decent idea of what works and what doesn’t.

Conveniently, some of my friends know this. Not conveniently for me, but for them. (And possibly for you, since you’re reading this.) How so? Because I can offer a few insights into the mind of an interviewer.

Yes, do remember that I’m a know-it-all.

  1. Show Confidence

    You’ve made it past the first line — you have an interview. That means that your resume did it’s job and caught someone’s attention long enough to have a conversation. (Let’s assume for the moment that you didn’t lie on your resume — we’ll cover that aspect a little later).

    Unless you’re clocking at less than five years of full-time employment, you probably have a lot of experience, and you know a lot (certainly enough to get an interview). You’ve probably done a lot of different things. So make sure you remember that experience, especially if you feel the interviewer’s questions are making you feel inadequate. (Interviewers will often ask questions that either have no right or wrong answer, or ones that are extremely difficult to answer.)

    For more senior positions, interviewers aren’t looking for you to prove your knowledge, they’re feeling about for "fit" within their organisation. You should be doing the same — remember, the interviewer represents the company, and you should be asking them questions, too.

  2. Show Humility

    You know a lot, but don’t be an ass about it. Nothing turns an interviewer off faster than an out-of-control ego.

  3. Know the company

    I have two basic rules: Don’t guess, know. Don’t know? Ask! So don’t want into a company and guess about what they do, their position in the industry, or even about internal operations. Do a little research — five minutes with Google will make you look more interested in the job than the next guy. If you’re really lucky, you’ll be able to get a line on the job, or possibly know someone who works there.

  4. Be Friendly

    Interviews should never be confrontational — even though it seems that way. Make a couple of jokes.

  5. Be prepared for a firing line — there might be 3+ people on the other side of the table.

    Don’t panic — that happens when there are multiple groups who have the same interest.

  6. Remember this is a conversation.

    Neither of you have anything to lose by this, and you don’t need the job. You’re there because you’re interested.

  7. Show interest.

    If you look like you’re bored, the interview will end quickly.

  8. Be prepared for all sorts of oddball questions.

    A good interviewer will test not only your technical skills, but see how you react to situational questions, too. With anything that seems weird, take a moment to think about it (look thoughtful, and utter "hmm..." — it helps).

  9. Be honest.

    Even if you think it’ll hurt you. People think interviewers want to hear the right answers. Here’s the trick — they know that you’re gonna lie your socks off, so are preparing to give you curveball questions to throw you off. Being honest does a pretty good job of avoiding the curveballs.

  10. Dress reasonably nice.

    Skip the formal, but pants and a nice button-down shirt helps

Tagged with: