How To Be Successful In An Interview

One major life experience that everyone will go through sooner or later is applying for a new job. Whether you are applying for your first job, moving on to the next thing, or climbing the career ladder, you will most likely go through a screening process that involves getting interviewed. Doing well in these interviews is crucial. 

This is the first time your potential employer(s) gets to know you on a more personal level, as opposed to on a piece of paper through your resume. It is the first time they can truly gain some insights as to what kind of person you are, if they would like to work with you, and if you would be a good fit within the company. How you do in an interview can easily make or break your future career with that business or company. 

Not every employer is the same, but generally speaking, there are a few things employers look for that would be similar across the board. 

First Impressions

The immediate first impression a potential employer sees is very important. Most employers tend to look for reliable, hard-working, and efficient individuals with a well-rounded set of transferable skills who know how to get the job done and are pleasant to work with. There are a few ways you can communicate that you are exactly what they are looking for described below.

Be Prepared 

It is always a good idea to make sure you know a lot about the company or business you are applying to work for. Prepare for this by doing some research on your potential workplace. Read their mission statement, read through the company website, know about the most accomplished achievements of the company/business, as well as any significant contributions they have made. Try to get a general feel for how that workplace operates and what they are looking for in an employee. 


Know Yourself 

We will touch on this more in a bit, but make sure you have already prepared some answers to potential interview questions. Specifically, questions that ask you about yourself. Know what your greatest strengths and weaknesses are and be honest, but don’t come across as bragging, or make yourself look like a lousy employee. 

There is a fine line between those two extremes. Really practice getting it to a place where you come across as confident, qualified, and professional while showing that you can only improve by working to better yourself in areas of weakness for the benefit of your career as well as the company/business.  

Do NOT Be Late

Be on time! This is the first thing your potential employer will notice. The worst thing you can do is be late. This will show your employer that you are bad at time management, do not prioritize your career, and do not respect your commitments and deadlines.

 Try not to be exactly on time, instead arrive 5 to 10 minutes earlier to give yourself a few minutes to breathe and organize your thoughts so you can walk into your interview relaxed, with a calm and clear mind, as opposed to a rushed and jumbled one.

Appearance and Body Language

Appearance matters. Even if you don’t think so, what you wear to your interview can tell an employer a lot about you. The best way to dress for an interview is to remain business casual. Wear something clean, ironed, and appropriate. You want to look professional, but don’t overdo it, be comfortable and choose an outfit you feel confident in.

Interviews can be nerve-racking so pay attention to your body language throughout it. Make sure you are open and making eye contact. Be present and focused while you are listening to or answering questions. 


Common Interview Questions

Now that you know how to prepare for your interview as well as how to conduct yourself, it’s important to get familiar with the kinds of questions you might get asked. There is going to be quite a variety of questions that you could get asked during an interview, but generally speaking, there are a few questions that most employers tend to ask. 

Here is a list of common interview questions you should familiarize yourself with so you don’t get caught off guard:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Why do you want this job?
  3. What are your greatest strengths?
  4. What are your greatest weaknesses?
  5. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it. 
  6. Tell me about a time you failed.
  7. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  8. What motivates you?
  9. How do you handle pressure?
  10. How would your coworkers describe you?
  11. What should I know that’s not on your resume?
  12. What are some of your leadership experiences?
  13. Why should we hire you?
  14. Be prepared for questions about the company such as “What is the name of our CEO?” or “Who are our competitors?”
  15. What questions do you have for me?

When answering these questions you want to make sure you remain genuine but still professional. Stay focused when answering open-ended questions such as “tell me about yourself?”. Don’t tell them your life story. Keep your answers focused on your skills, and qualities that are relevant to the job you are applying for. 

In negatively worded questions such as “tell me about a time you failed.”, make sure you only talk about a failure or weakness that you’ve since learned from and conquered. Employers want people on their team who are constantly improving and moving forward, so make sure you make it clear that it was a necessary failure because you learned valuable lessons and improved so much since then.

Most of the questions are asked to show your potential employer who you are and how you work. In your answers, try to reflect that you are confident, work-oriented, motivated, self-aware, ambitious, a team player, and constantly improving yourself.

A good strategy for getting better at your interview skills is to practice. Look over the most common questions and write up your answers. Don’t try to memorize everything, but have a good knowledge of what you want to say and how you want to present yourself. 

Another good strategy is to conduct a mock interview. Get someone to interview you so you get a feel for what it’s actually like. Try to get as comfortable with the setting, the questions, and your answers. At the end of the day, this is a conversation, your potential employer wants to know you better. 

Ask Questions

Something that every potential employer will ask you is “What questions do you have for me?”. Make sure you ask them at least two or three questions. This is your time to take some control of the conversation and ask important questions you think you need to know. 

It is a good strategy to ask the interviewer direct questions such as “What’s your favorite part about working here?” or “What do you think the greatest challenge is working here?” It is also a good strategy to ask the interviewer what is one main advice they would give to make yourself stand out within the company, or how you can be as useful as possible. Lastly, ask about the future of the company, “where is it heading, how is it dealing with potential growth or expansion?”.  

Asking questions at the end of an interview shows your potential employer that you have thought through working here and have a vision for the future. You will come across as proactive and engaging, which are important qualities employers want in their employees. 

Remember to breathe and try to leave your nerves at the door. With the right amount of practice, preparation, and self-reflection you should nail it. Good luck.