13 Lucky Tips to a Better Job Interview

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I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

posted this on Friday, August 12, 2011 at about 11am.

I had the chance to offer a student of a local college a mock interview for one of her classes. She was a graphic design student so I also had a look at her portfolio. I was a bit rough on her because, as I told her, I wanted her to have the opportunity to flounder when it didn’t matter for a job so she could be better when it did matter.

At the end of the interview, she asked me to provide feedback… I’m glad that she was required to do this for her sake because too often we miss golden opportunities to gain insight that will help us increase our performance.

Right now, it’s a little hard for some people to get a job (hello pot, you’re black). It’s made harder now partly because of the economy but more so, in my opinion, because we are a bit out of practice. Too many people had worked so long in environments where it was easy to get the job in the first place and now find themselves out of work. Then, instead of really practicing, people just wing it. They don’t wing it because they are necessarily lazy (though some are), they wing it because they don’t know how to practice.

I decided to give this student some keys to a successful interview. These thoughts are my own and I am sure that others will have opinions (which I encourage written below as a comment). This is what I look for.

  1. Know exactly what you want and why you want it. If you focus on your primary objective (not getting a job but what you love to do) you’ll find that your conversation will be much easier. Everything in your résumé, portfolio and dialog should speak to your passion. Why you do what you do and why you want to do what you are seeking will naturally make you more compelling.
  2. Taylor your résumé to the job you are looking for. When I read a résumé, I don’t want to see multiple goals. I want you to focus on what it is that you are qualified for. If you don’t know before the interview, you better do your research.
  3. Do research on your company. Be prepared to ask a question about a recent blog post the interviewer wrote, print an article from the newspaper about the company with notes and questions written on it, have a list of questions that make it obvious you did your homework.
  4. Have a pad of paper and a pen in the meeting. At the beginning, ask if you can take notes and write notes on what is said. I hate interviewing someone when I am not sure what I am saying is of any meaning to them. Take notes on the responsibilities that you’ll need to fill.
  5. Come prepared with questions about the company, about the position and about your proposed responsibilities. Remember, it’s a two way interview. If you treat the interview as a date and really try to get to know what the expectations are, you’ll not only better understand how you can help solve their problems, you will be able to determine if the job is a right fit for you.
  6. Practice. Practice. Practice. It is natural to be nervous. Just practice with your friends and family. Have them ask you very hard questions so that you can figure out how to answer them. Learn what those questions are from other interviews that you’ve had (you should have been writing these down in your notepad). If you practice them, the second time you are in an interview and need to come up with an answer, it will be easy - or at least easier.
  7. Focus on your strengths. However, focus on a way that doesn’t seem braggadocios. The easiest way to do this is to talk about how your strengths will help the company and not why you are great. For example, don’t say, “I’m so go good at this piece of software.” But instead say, “My skill in this software will allow me to help your company in this way…”
  8. Focus on solving problems rather than spitting out facts abut you. Ask questions that allow you to identify the problems the company has and focus your answers on addressing those. Be careful not to sound like you have an answer to each problem. If you go too far, you’ll sound like there is nothing to learn. You have a lot to learn… more than you realize. But, you also have a lot to offer.
  9. Your résumé needs to be perfect. No misspelled word. No missing period. No grammatical mistakes. It must be focused on results and not on that tactics that you have used. The formatting needs to be spectacular and the focus needs to be on why you are perfect for the particular job.
  10. Dress the part. In fact, dress better than the part. Act like you want it. You are asking an employer to take a risk on you. You want this employer to give you money just for doing work and not providing results. You need to take this seriously and show that you are the right fit for the job.
  11. Develop a 60-day quick start plan. A simple one-sheet that you have indicated what you’ll want to accomplish and what you think you’ll need help on during this introductory period. Leave room for you to take notes so that you can show flexibility in adjusting your plan with the new information that you receive.
  12. Ask the interviewer how you did. Ask for honest feedback. Be prepared for the answers that make it hard. Help them understand that you are always looking to improve and say something to the effect of, “should we both choose that this is not a right fit for whatever reason I would like to be better prepared for the next interview I have."
  13. Above all, be professional. Use a professional email address. Use professional languange. Use professional examples.

I’m sure that there are other thoughts I have but this should be helpful to get you started. They are not hard things but will take time to master.

One thing that you should help you on your way is watching this brilliant video by Simon Sinek. It’s brilliant and I promise if you embody these, your interview will be far more successful.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Consulting firm.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?