18 Practical Tips to Help You Ace Your Job Interview

A lot of “experts” will look you in the eye and assure you there are guaranteed ways to ace your job interview by giving the right interview answer to job interview questions. Well there are no absolutely guaranteed right answers. But luckily there are some practical job interview tips that can help a lot:

Job Interview Tips – Before the Interview:

  • Take time to prepare – Find out all you can about the company. You aren’t expected to know everything, but if it’s a public company there is no excuse for at least not knowing their business line(s) and a little about their products.
  • Read the job description CAREFULLY - It will help you aim your answers toward things they are actually looking for. Not that you should simply give them back what they asked for, but you can use the description to help guide you.
  • Know your resume very well – This may sound obvious, but I’ve interviewed people who can’t quickly remember a job I referred to that was on their own resume. Review the order of your jobs, the tasks at each job, and the reason(s) you left. Also look through the resume to remind yourself of some stories where you found a problem and solved it, came up with a ways to save the company money, etc. A good story that rings true can make a big difference.

Job Interview Tips – Acing the Interview Itself

  • First and foremost, walk into the room with good energy and a smile pleasantly, making eye contact with the interviewer(s) as you shake their hand firmly – but not painfully!
  • Be yourself. Even if “yourself” is shy or a little awkward when you speak. Interviewers want to see the real person. They understand that you’re probably nervous, but it will help you be less nervous to know that it’s ok to just show them the nice person that you are.
  • Interviewers are looking for the right fit. So even if you are great in every way, you might not get the job. But you have to trust them to know this. Trying to present the person you think they want rather than who you are won’t help anyone. Again..just be yourself. Emphasize those aspects of you that they are looking for, but don’t lay on the BS.
  • Stay alert and interested. Don’t let your mind get lost in what you just said nor what they might ask next. As they say in Zen…be in the moment.
  • Keep eye contact with the person asking the question while they are asking it. If there are others, as you answer, look at the questioner more often, but be sure to catch everyone else’s eyes too.
  • Look for chances to use the stories you prepared that show why you’d be a real asset to the company.
  • Don’t go on too long – as interesting as you may think you are. But also, don’t just give a one or two-word answer. They want to see who you are. Give them a chance to hear your voice, see how you think, and hopefully get to know you a bit.
  • Interviewers are looking to see whether you’d be pleasant to work with and how you handle situations. They want to know you are a hard worker who sees problems as challenges and finds a way to solve them. They also want to know that in a crunch, you roll up your sleeves and pitch in. (Prepare stories about things you’ve done that show that.)
  • Interviewers want to know you’ll be a good team player…but also able to think for yourself. You want to make sure they see both parts of you.
  • Most of all, they want to know if you can handle the job. But since only they know exactly what they are looking for and what that means, you should let them guide you in the interview. Don’t try to lead them. Listen. Ask questions if you don’t understand. And show them you are able to respond to what they asked and not what you wish they asked.
  • One contradiction to my last point: If they ask you an interview question and you only have a short uninteresting answer, if you can find a NATURAL way to throw in one of your strongest stories, then go for it. Just don’t take them on a long winding trip to nowhere.
  • If it looks like you don’t have the required skills after all, try to figure out which skills you do have that show similar aptitude and then stress these. Make sure you let them know you are a quick learner and would be excited to add these new skills. (Give an example if you have one.) Work needs often change, and many employers know that a person who can easily and willingly change with the times is a real asset.
  • Of course, if you don’t have the skills and they need them on day one, there’s not much you can do. But you are not only interviewing for this job, but for the possibility of a job they don’t even have yet or know they need. So continue to show them what you do have to offer and what makes you a person they’d like to have on their team. I recently interviewed someone who didn’t have the skills needed, but we liked her so much that the boss is thinking about a way to create a position for her. You never know!
  • Stay focused right to the end. Even if you think it’s not going well, show them you can hang in and do your best no matter what. It’s true that interviewers get an impression within the first few minutes (which is why it’s so important to start with good energy), but you never know when you can recover a fumble.
  • Leave with the same positive energy you started the job interview with. And remember after an interview to follow-up your interviews with thank you letters or e-mails. Job interview thank-you letters can’t hurt and they may very well help. Oh…keep them short and pleasant – and please check the grammar and spelling!

So in the end, no one can give you the exact words that will help you ace all those job interview questions with the absolutely perfect job interview answers. But I can tell you that a positive attitude, careful listening, resourcefulness, flexibility, willingness to learn, and good positive energy will get you far. Just  give your job interview questions and answers your best shot. No one can ask more of you than that.  And though not every job is a fit – yes…even if you ace all your interview questions – at the very least, each job interview is terrific practice for eventually nailing the right job.

Good luck!

Posts related to 18 Practical Job Interview Tips to Help You Ace Your Interview:

Job Interviews: Where Do You See Yourself Five Years From Now?

Job Interviews: What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

Job Interviews: What’s Your Greatest Strength?

15 Things I Look for When I Interview People

 

About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.

Comments

  1. Great advice! Thank you. I’m in the middle of a job search so I appreciate your insight.

  2. That makes me feel great. Thanks. Good luck on the search Mike! Anyone with your obvious good taste and intelligence…ahem…should be a real asset to any employer. (-;

  3. These are great tips. I would add to this that a natural open body language, that is the arms are not folded or your not too comfortable either. For example, don’t lean back like your siting in an arm chair at home! Really show them how strongly you feel about having the chance of working for them. Interviewers get nervous too, and they want you to be comfortable. Be confident! You made it to the interview! That is half the battle. The interview is a way for a committee or manager to evaulate your communication skills. Great advise!

  4. Thanks David! Good advice about not folding arms – makes you seem closed off or nervously protective – but also not acting as if it’s your living room. Keep your shoes and socks on! A happy, comfortable medium is the way to go.

    From this advice and your other comment, I wonder if you have your own coaching website. If so, just tell me the link and I’ll be happy to add it to your comments. If not, feel free to stop by here and add your $2.22. (Adjusted for inflation!)

  5. Great article! Thanks! My company is doing training for job seekers – one of them on the interview skills. Everything said here is very relevant. Good luck!

  6. Thank you Jamal. Appreciate your kind words. Good luck with the work you do!

  7. Namrata P says:

    Hi Ronnie Ann,

    You have a very good hold over all this, thank you so much for your “easy to understand help”.
    Each topic i read give me subtle happiness and confidence to face the interview. In 1 hour i have my interview and your website really helped me ease my nerves. Thank you….

  8. ethel grimes says:

    All these silly questions today, my last job interview for my last job of 11 years,lasted all of 10 minutes. None of all this psychological tosh. What are you most proud of and what have you acheived in life, all tosh. Modern mumbo-jumbo, brought here by the shrink obsessed yankies.

    • Ethel Grimes- and I would add mind control obsessed yankies – I say get outta my head! Unfortunately it is the wave of the future-it is HR depts wary of lawsuits and the politically correct mind control gnomes that are responsible but look at the paid resume writing, interview techniques and coaching industry they have created! It’s the age old create the problem then sell folks the solution. It’s almost amusing if it weren’t so sad.

  9. Ethel and Ginger…

    I can well understand your feelings about all this unnecessary process (more appropriately called “hogwash” ;-) ) I too long for the simpler days when it wasn’t such a game.

    Please know some of us who hire do take time to see if there is a good match and do care about treating job seekers with respect. It makes me sad this isn’t the standard. Of course, when you get hundreds of resumes at a time, something has to give. But your points about what’s behind a lot of this are right on, Ginger.

    FYI…I am someone who writes this blog because I want to help. I do not make a living from resume writing or career coaching nor do I even advertise those services. I’ve hired and been hired – plus I get thousands of comments I learn from – and just share my take on things the best I can.

    I wish you both much luck in whatever you do!

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  10. The way you speak is just as important as the way you write, use the person name when you speak to them and avoid the um-ahh and other slang. So after the interview when you get up to thank the person and shake their hand you should inquire about how they view your qualifications for the position and what is the next step and when they expect to make a final decision. I have read review from employers who stated that they did not hire a person because they stood up, shake their hand and simply walk out of the room.

  11. Thanks for adding that Karen. Good advice. Although for me…if that’s the only reason someone didn’t hire a person, I’m not sure I’d want to work for such a rigid, close-minded person! ;-)

    But at the very least, a firm handshake while looking the interviewer right in the eyes and thanking them – with at least “words like I look forward to hearing from you” is a good way to leave a strong impression. It’s not just the words…it’s the attitude and how you carry yourself.

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  12. I m really helpful to u that i git lot more idea abt how to an interview and i’ll do my level best to crack any interview with the examples u have given.thanks! thanks a lot

  13. Thank you, kaifi! I wish you MUCH luck in your job search.

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  14. Brilliant article. I am a recruiter, so I do this for a living. In two days I am going to a second interview for a new job and it dawned on me in the first interview – I had no idea what to do! I didn’t prepare, just went in and was 100% me and it secured a second interview. I Googled ‘acing an interview’ just now (in a frantic flap thinking I needed to ‘prepare’) and this article came up, and I am SO glad it is the first article I read. It is right – you cannot prepare you answers, because you are YOU. If the company needs YOU they will employ you. If they don’t it’s not personal, it is just business. Relax, be honest and enjoy it. You are two people – you both got up this morning, got ready for your day, did your daily routine and had appointments and things to do before your interview. You also both have things to do after your interview. You both travelled to the location and as an interviewer all you are thinking is – PLEASE be normal, please show up on time, please be friendly and easy to talk to. The rest is just experience and at the end of the day if you haven’t got it, you aren’t going to fool anyone otherwise. If you are successful at fooling someone, you may well just have a nice little ‘three month stint’ to add to your CV when your inexperience shows. Do everyone a favour, be real.

  15. Hi Biee!

    I really appreciate your kind words about the article. Even more, I appreciate the excellent first-hand advice from someone who does recruiting for a living. Unless you have any objections, I may have to turn some of what you said into a new article. :)

    I wish you much luck in your career! And thanks again for taking the time to help our readers.

  16. Hi Ronnie Ann!
    Absolutely, you are most welcome to. If you can access my email address you are most welcome to contact me if you’d like to discuss more as well. It is a different ball game on the other side of the fence and this week has certainly seen me experience a lot more empathy for those who walk through our doors.
    I am off for the interview in 45 minutes – one more quick read of your article and I am off!

    Cheers,
    Biee

  17. Hi Everyone,
    I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, so excuse me if is not…

    After a couple of years trying to find a better job I finally got an offer and signed a contract last week… :-) (I got great support here on my waiting game… Thank you!)

    At the same time, I applied for other positions and I went to another interview at a big company, they told me from the beginning that it was a lengthy selecction process, so three weeks passed and I got an email for a second round of interviews. This is a great place to work, as well as the one I signed in. My question is, should I cancel this new interview?

    I’ve done some research and some people suggest to cancel while others say that it may be worth to try. This new interview is an assessment of a few hours (probably 8). I would like to cancel it so I would not waste other people’s time, but at the same time I’m not sure what would happen on my new job once I’m there… I’m debating.. what should I do?

    Thank you!

  18. Sunitha Narayanan says:

    Here is a suggestion to expand on point 2 – read the description carefully. Complete a thorough position analysis identifying your fit, especially with interests and skills. Then, categorize stories that might help you support this fit. Take this document with you to an interview and use it as a framework for discussion. You can take this further by filling in the gaps as you talk with the employer and use this addendum as “more” than a thank-you letter when you follow-up after the interview.

    Thanks, Ronnie for staring this discussion.

  19. Thank you for this article. I am off to another interview in an hour and was really stressed about my potential responses. You reminded me of the fact that I once was in the position of conducting these interviews myself and all I ever wanted of my potential hire was to be themselves. Doing just that would assist in showing if they would make a good fit and were capable of fulfilling what they stated in their resume (or not).
    I feel as though I can breathe now. Thank you again.

    • Sonya,

      How wonderful, glad that the article was helpful to you. I hope the interview went great, do let us know how we can be helpful to you. And keep on being yourself — sounds as though you have a lot to offer a potential employer.

      All the Best,
      Chandlee

  20. “Stay focused right to the end”

    I had a job interview some weeks ago, and at the end of the interview i was asked about my english skills (I’am from germany and the interview was done in german). I would say my english skills are not bad, i watch movies or TV-Shows in english, surfing on internetsites in english, listen to english youtube videos or podcasts, I also spend during my vocational training some time in ireland true an european exchange programm, no problems. To cut a long story short, normally I can switch from german to english without thinking about it. BUT, at that moment I was simply frozen, and it took me a moment to switch and I think what I said was more stuttering.^^ Also it was not simply “talk” , the question was “How would you show some one arround in our library?” (I’am a library technican). And because I didn’t know much about the place it was even more mind-boggling.

  21. Interviewers are looking for the right fit. , Here’s a buch of crap. Usually the interviewer is not part of the department in which the person is applying. So “right fit” means cultural diversity, meaning if you don’t have an accent of a certain skin tone forget it.

  22. What if you go into a job interview and because you are nervous your hands are sweaty but you shake the interviewers hand anyway? Is this a sure sign that you are doomed?

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Sheri,

      You can’t really avoid shaking hands with someone in an interview, and most interviewers understand that people are nervous in an interview, so it shouldn’t doom you at all.

      The more you interview, the less nervous you will hopefully be. If your palms are literally dripping wet, you might want to consider wiping your palm with an antiperspirant before you go to an interview, if you are really concerned about it.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

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