Whether a candidate succeeds in an interview depends on various factors, from what steps they take to prepare to how they conduct themselves in the meeting. You may have multiple rounds of interviews before receiving a job offer, so it’s essential to approach each one appropriately. Regardless of the type of interview you’re expecting, you can follow some general guidelines that may help improve your chances of impressing a potential employer.
In this article, we review 13 tips that can help you complete a successful interview when applying for jobs.
13 tips for a successful interview
Follow these tips to learn how to succeed in your next job interview:
1. Learn about behavioral interviewing techniques
Behaviour-based interviewing is when your interviewer asks you about how you handled past situations at work. This interviewing technique gives a potential employer valuable insight into the way you approach challenges in your job and turn them into favourable opportunities.
You can prepare for this type of interview by making a list of your skills, strengths and weaknesses. Prepare an example of a time when you displayed each of these qualities. Your example can show the employer how you successfully handled the situation.
2. Prepare for the type of interview
Employers can conduct interviews in different formats and settings. Knowing what kind of interview to expect can help you enter the meeting feeling more prepared and confident. Some interview formats that differ from the traditional one-on-one meeting include:
- Out-of-office interviews: You may arrive a few minutes before your interviewer for lunch or dinner interview. Browse through the restaurant menu online before arriving, and learn about what type of restaurant you’ll be visiting to determine how to dress.
- Phone and video interviews: Find a quiet room where there won’t be any interruptions to do the interview. Make sure the technology you are using works efficiently and practice using it before the interview.
- Group interviews: A group interview is when a panel of people interviews you. Besides practicing your answers to common questions, it may also help to practice your listening skills before going into this type of interview.
3. Make time for practice
Practicing for your interview can always lead to some improvement. Ask a family member or a friend to interview you and get their feedback. You can also record yourself when answering their sample questions. Study how you’re delivering answers and observe your gestures and other nonverbal cues.
4. Prepare answers to common questions
Here are some common questions you may hear in an interview:
- Can you tell me about yourself?
- How did you hear about this job?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why should we hire you?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What do you know about the company?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What is your work ethic?
- What kind of environment do you prefer to work in?
- How do you handle work-related disagreements with your colleagues?
- How would your current employer and colleagues describe you?
- How do you handle pressure?
- Do you have any questions for me?
5. Remain professional from start to finish
The hiring manager isn’t the only person you need to impress. Be polite and respectful to everyone in the building. This includes the person who greets you as you enter and the assistant who serves you a coffee or tea before the interview.
6. Get insider details
Contact other people already working at the organization to learn about the company culture and work environment. If you don’t know anyone with a connection to the organization, visit the company’s social media pages to get an idea of the culture there. Learn as many details as you can about the company before the interview so you can ask informed questions.
7. Dress for the job
Your first impression can have a significant effect on the way your interviewer views you. The way you dress can help ensure you make a positive first impression. Go beyond the traditional smart attire and focus on the details, such as ensuring your clothes are free of holes or wrinkles. The outfit you choose may depend on the company and the type of culture they promote.
Doing your research can help you decide if it’s better to wear something slightly more casual or more formal. If there isn’t any information and you are unsure what to wear, contact the person who scheduled your interview or err on the side of formality.
8. Prepare for small talk
You may find yourself interacting on a personal level with your interviewer. You can practice some common casual conversation topics to help you feel more confident if your interview turns into an informal conversation. Here are some small talk tips that can help you:
- Focus on the interviewing environment. You can comment on the design of the office or its location.
- Compliment the employer on an award the team might have won recently or other similar achievements.
- Find a common interest and talk about that.
- Be positive during the conversation.
9. Use calming techniques on the day of the interview
You can help yourself stay calm on the day of your interview by making sure you’re prepared and practicing stress-management techniques. Being on time, or ideally 15 minutes early, is one way of showing your potential employer your professionalism.
Drive to the location ahead of time so you can find out the exact location before the day of the interview. If traffic is heavy in the area, prepare enough time for the drive there.
If you are feeling nervous, take a deep breath and be confident that you have prepared well for it. Being nervous is normal, but try to stay as calm as you can during the interview. Ask for clarification if you haven’t understood a question, and take your time to give the best answer you can.
10. Consider what to bring
The following is a list of things you should bring with you for a successful interview:
- A printed copy of your resume
- A list of references
- Work samples and publications to show the employer
- A list of questions to ask the employer
- A notebook and pen to take notes
11. Build rapport with your interviewer
Your interview is your opportunity to create a connection with your potential employer. While the interviewer may ask questions for the majority of the meeting, you can still use each question to turn the interview into a more comfortable conversation. Try to make a personal connection with your interviewer while remaining professional.
12. Be authentic
Practice and preparation may help you have a successful interview, but it’s best to act like yourself when you meet with your interviewer. Be positive, assertive and confident, but also remain candid and concise in what you say. Focus on telling the truth when answering questions, using real-world examples from your career.
13. Remember to follow up
Write a short email after the interview to thank the employer for taking the time to meet. You can reiterate important details mentioned during the interview, such as your enthusiasm for the position and organization. This can help employers remember you and contact you regarding next steps.