3 Tips to Take Your In-Person Interview Skills to the Next Level
In digital marketing, it’s always important to understand who the customer is. Who will be seeing your ad when they search for “best donuts in Chicago”? Probably me—but that’s beside the point.
The same concept applies to in-person job interviews. In order to market yourself effectively, you need to understand who you’re marketing to. Read on to learn how.
(P.S.: If you need help with the phone interview portion too, check this out.)
1) Understand your audience
In this case, your audience is the interviewer. Thoroughly browse the company’s website and make sure you have a strong understanding of what services or products the company provides.
Check out the company LinkedIn page to get an idea of how many people work there and their backgrounds. Utilize your social media “research” (*ahem* stalking…) skills and look up the people who will be interviewing you. Oftentimes, the company should send you the names and titles of who will be in the interview. If not, feel free to email and ask.
Once you know a bit about the company and who will be interviewing you, you can prepare your answers accordingly. Think about the role of the person who is interviewing you.
If you’re interviewing with the company’s CEO, they may have a big picture perspective that’s different from a direct manager, who may be more concerned with your specific skills and whether or not you’re someone they want to work with.
Understanding your audience is so key to answering the question “Why are you interested in working in this position at this company?” If you can’t thoroughly and honestly answer that question, you probably shouldn’t be interviewing for the job. Being able to articulate clear reasoning and interest is the first step to doing well in an in-person interview.
Bonus tip: dress for success! Usually, company websites highlight their culture or at least a glimpse into the workplace environment. As a good rule, try to dress one level more formally than the day-to-day company requirements. For example, if the company is straight-up casual, wear business casual clothes for the interview.
2) Prepare metrics and stories
Even if you’re not interviewing for an analytical role, metrics clearly communicate the value and experience you bring to the table. Metrics quantify your experience, which helps interviewers see the tangible benefits of hiring you. The Muse has some helpful tips on how to quantify your resume.
After you add metrics, consider the stories behind your resume bullets. Narrative is an important communication skill that sets excellent communicators apart. Come up with story examples of your best work. An example of this could be telling about a time when you came up with a unique solution to a problem.
Make sure the story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. It should be concise, only including important details. (Now is not the time to wax poetic on your coworker’s smelly love of tuna sandwiches!)
Finally, spend time preparing responses to common interview questions. Don’t write out a script. Instead, jot some notes down and keep them with you for the interview, to prompt your memory on key points and to ensure you don’t forget those impressive metrics or stories.
If you’ve struggled with communicating in-person, have a friend practice with you or try recording yourself answering questions, then watch the videos and do a quick critique. It might make you cringe, but it’s really effective for breaking annoying communication habits that are holding you back from shining in an in-person interview.
3) Ask thoughtful questions
I recommend making small talk at the beginning of the interview to establish a personal connection with your interviewers—but it’s not all about the first impression. The end of the interview offers another opportunity to set yourself apart from other candidates.
Thoughtful questions can make a huge difference between a good interview and a great interview. Not asking questions can communicate that you 1) aren’t that interested or even 2) that you think you already know everything about the job and company (which despite your extensive research, just isn’t true).
This is your main opportunity to learn more about a job that will potentially take up a large portion of your life, so take advantage of it! Remember to tailor your questions to the person who’s interviewing you.
If you’re being interviewed by the person who would be your direct manager, ask about the day-to-day of the position (if that wasn’t covered) or the challenges that other employees have faced in the role. If you’re interviewing with a higher-level executive, ask big-picture questions.
Armed with these tips, you’re all set for your next in-person interview. Good luck!
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Rachel originates from Kansas City, Missouri (go Royals!). She grew up riding her horse Tinkerbelle and she has a secret knack for making really authentic puppy noises. Two of her greatest wishes? Driving a Tesla and becoming fluent in Russian.