After carefully crafting your résumé and rereading your cover letter 15 times, you’ve finally landed yourself an interview, and have likely embarked onto the next stage: panic
But there’s no need to stress. We spoke with career coach and interview preparation specialist Alex Freund, founder of LandingExpert, for some tips on diving into the job interview with grace and confidence.
Do your homework
Considering there are other excellent candidates competing for the same position, an interview is certainly not the time to “wing it,” says Freund.
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“You should know all about the company’s problems, competition, culture, financial situation, who their competition is, their best product, what other products were successful and so on,” he says.
While your responses should be short and focused, when they ask you, “What do you know about our company?” your job is simple: Just keep talking. After all, the No. 1 thing an interviewer is looking for is that you fit in with her company’s culture.
Freund adds, “If you can prove to me that you have so much information about my company, where I’ve been working for many years, that almost subliminally gives me the feeling that you’re already one of us.”
“No interviewer in America is looking for Mr. or Ms. Average,” Freund says. “They’re looking for Superman,” which is why it’s important for you to prove that you’re exceptionally good at what you do. But that doesn’t mean just telling the interviewer your opinion of yourself.
Your skills need to validated by others and backed up with concrete evidence, Freund explains. When an interviewer asks you what your strengths are, try something like this: “One of my greatest strengths is my strong communication skills. In my line of business, I work very often in teams, and in many situations, my team members ask that I be the spokesperson for the team.”
In the end, Freund says, it’s all about shaping your answer so that it can be perceived as fact, not merely opinion.
Prepare strategic questions
While providing good answers is essential, asking the right questions is equally as important, advises Freund. That means avoiding tactical questions. After all, you want to portray yourself as an extremely knowledgeable candidate. Asking a question of that nature will only put doubt in the mind of the interviewer and suggest that you don’t truly understand the needs of the company.
Focus on the future
Candidates often spend too much time discussing their past, says Freund. Instead of talking at length about what you’ve already done, he suggests trying to answer questions in a way that reference your future at your interviewer’s company.
For example, “As someone with an expertise in Microsoft Excel, I will be able to work on Pivot tables and do VLOOKUPs, which I know in your industry are very important.”