Nailed it! How to Interview Effectively

How you handle yourself in an interview is crucial in scoring your dream job.  Your accolades and resume speak a great deal about you, but you yourself need to wow the interviewer if you want to get hired.  Interviewers want to have a conversation with a relaxed and confident candidate.  In order to be that candidate, there are several things you can do to prepare yourself.  Assuming you have already written a solid cover letter, here are some tips to help you impress in your interview. interview

Prior to the Interview

  • Do your homework!

These words that Mom used to yell at you in middle school still apply today!  It is vital to conduct research on your interviewer, the company and the industry, its products, and its competitors.  You must know about the company history, values, and mission statement.  Make sure to find out where the company stands in the industry and think of some ways in which it can move past its competitors.  Look up where your interviewer(s) went to college and what his/her interests are (it never hurts to have some conversation starters.)  Also, write up some potential interview questions and respond to them out loud in a mirror.  Speak clearly with a good pace, and look confident and enthusiastic as you speak.

  • Tailor your Resume to the Company and Interviewer(s)

An interviewer is looking for a specific set of characteristics in his/her potential hires.  Catering your resume to his/her needs is of utmost importance to having a successful interview.  Use some similar verbiage that the company uses in its mission statement.  Take a look at the adjectives listed in the job requirements and show in your resume how you display those traits .  Center your document around things that add value to their organization.  The activities that your interviewer participates in speak a lot about what they value.  Cater your resume to show that what you have done can be related to his/her experiences and that you have some similar interests.

At the Interview

  • Dress Niceimage

Make sure you confirm the dress code before you head out to the interview.  Once you receive this information, make sure to dress accordingly.  Look fashionable, but not too flashy.  If you are a man applying for a job with a business attire, wear a conservative suit with a nice tie, shirt, and professional shoes.  You can always be safe by going with a clean shave.  For women, a conservative suit will also be acceptable.  Some jewelry is fine, but nothing too extravagant.  In both cases, cologne/perfume should be kept to a minimum; you do not want the interviewer to smell you before the conversation even begins.

  • Be Prudent!

Today, it is completely unacceptable to be late for an interview given the resources we have (barring any serious emergencies.)  First impressions are crucial to landing the job, so make sure you show up on time (a.k.a. be at least fifteen minutes early.)  This will show your potential employer that you pay attention to detail and have respect for their time.

  • Be Genuine

Do not try to be someone you are not.  Employers can see right through it and do not hire people who appear to be fake.  Instead, prove to the interviewer that your personality and strengths will  be a perfect fit for this position.  Not being afraid to be yourself demonstrates a great deal of confidence.  Differentiate yourself from the competition with your uniqueness and ability to accomplish goals.

  • Be Remembered

Being genuine does not mean you cannot be interesting! Make sure to prove to your employer that you have that “it” factor.  Demonstrate how you can use your past experiences to take this company to the next level.  The interviewees that get called back are the ones that make lasting impressions.  Tell a story that shows your unique set of skills and how they can be applied to the company.  If you are being interviewed by multiple people, make sure to connect someone in the room.  Find a common thread you share with that person and grab their attention.  Once you do, run with it.  Make great eye contact with that person, and convey to them that you are truly a great fit for the position.  If you can sell that person, chances are he/she can sell you to the others (if you have not done so already.)

  • Ask the RIGHT Questions 

Questions are another opportunity to prove your commitment and worth to your potential employer.  Make sure you choose yours carefully to put yourself in the best position to get the job.  Here are some solid examples:

      • What do you like most about this job/company?

Fairly simple question, but it is important to get some real insight into the atmosphere fostered within the organization.

      • Is there anything you dislike about this job/company?

It might be the case that the organizational culture is not the right fit for you; it is better to find out now rather than later.

      • Is there a chance for mobility within the company?

Chances are you will want the opportunity to grow within the organization.  Make sure it affords you the ability to develop your skills and further your career.

      • How is the work/life balance here?

If you plan on staying with this company for a long time, it is important that they respect you not only as an employee, but also as a person with a life outside of work.  Make sure they have sufficient support systems in place to help you manage your work life and personal life.

      • How do I compare to other candidates?

This lets you know where you stand, but it also shows a competitive edge and drive to do all things necessary to get this job.

      • What is the next step in this process?

Asking this puts your foot in the door with the company.  It shows initiative and as a result, makes you a more attractive candidate.

Post Interview

  • Follow Up

Send an email later that day thanking the interviewer for his/her time and consideration.  A week later, send a handwritten note that is a more in-depth letter of appreciation.  Show the interviewer that you took something away from the conversation and restate your desire to join his/her team.


With these tips, you will put yourself in the ideal spot to get your dream job!  Good luck!