14 Ways to Ace a Job Interview

Recruiters checking the candidate during job interview

By Priti Dadlani

The most bizarre interview I ever had was with the city editor of a newspaper.

He interviewed me along with his deputy editor, a married woman who was about eight months pregnant. The interview took place over lunch and at one point, the city editor joked about how he and his deputy worked so closely together that reporters in the newsroom thought the baby was his. I nearly choked on my arugula, but said nothing. I got the job.

The best interview I ever had was simply a great one-hour conversation with the two hiring managers, discussing the job and my qualifications for it. By the time I got home, 45 minutes later, the Human Resources manager was on the phone offering me the job.

Most job interviews fall somewhere between those two extreme scenarios.

Raj Dadlani, CEO and founder of Huntech, a global search firm that specializes in placing computer engineering talent, has done screening interviews with thousands of candidates over the last three decades.

“You move to the front of the line as a candidate if you can appeal to the hiring manager’s self-interest. How will you make his or her life easier, as well as help meet corporate objectives?” says Dadlani. “If you feel the interview went well, close the deal by asking for the job.”

Here are his top 14 ways to ace an interview:

  1. Listen before you speak. Many people, out of nervousness or exuberance, don’t answer what the interviewer asked because they didn’t listen carefully to the question. Don’t ramble. Speak clearly and slowly.
  2. Pay attention to your body language. Sit up straight and lean forward slightly to show you’re engaged. Don’t cross your arms in a defensive posture. Maintain eye contact. Smile genuinely.
  3. Don’t bring up salary. It’s poor etiquette. Ditto for benefits, vacations and whether you can work from home. This is all part of the negotiation process after they’ve decided to hire you. When they are interested in you, they will ask you what your salary expectations are.
  4. Be prepared for the tricky questions. Like what are your weaknesses? Reframe this as a challenge or learning opportunity. For example, if your weakness is that you’re a perfectionist, you might say you need to delegate more.
  5. Don’t be critical of current or former employers. If you’re asked why you left a position, it’s not an invitation to start bringing up every grievance you ever had. It paints you as a complainer.
  6. Ask questions. Make the interview interactive to determine whether the job is a good fit for you. Get the interviewer to tell you about the job’s challenges, its history and whether they are looking for a change agent or want to maintain the status quo.
  7. Be on time. But don’t be too early.
  8. Research the company. Use it to come up with an idea about how you will contribute right away. Know the names of senior leadership and what challenges the company is currently facing.
  9. Look professional. Business casual attire is best. Don’t play with your hair. Don’t bring food or drink with you.
  10. Get comfortable with technology. Increasingly, interviews are being conducted on Skype or through other video calls.
  11. Take the test. An interviewer may require a test of your math or written skills. They may want you to do a Whiteboard to demonstrate how you would tackle a problem.
  12. Be upbeat. Convey enthusiasm, energy, passion.
  13. Ask for the job. At the end of the interview, if you think the job is a good fit for you, say so.
  14. Say thank you. Your note should be emailed no later than 24 hours after the interview.

To expand on Mr. Dadlani’s advice, if you’re not sure what questions to ask in an interview, Jeff Haden has some good suggestions in his article, 5 Questions Great Job Candidates Ask. They include:

  1. What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?
  2. What are the common attributes of your top performers?
  3. What are a few things that really drive results for the company?
  4. What do employees do in their spare time?
  5. How do you plan to deal with…?

In her article The Secret to Better Face-to-Face Job Interviews Online, Laura Montini refers to an infographic on best practices for conducting a video interview from Column Five and web meeting technology company PGi.

One of the tips in the infographic is to set the scene where the interview will take place so that it has good lighting, and is not cluttered or messy because that will show up in the background.

First impressions in an interview are formed in just a few seconds and a good handshake matters more than you think, says blogger Eric Barker of Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

“Experts at the University of Iowa analyzing interactions in job interviews declared handshakes more important than agreeableness, conscientiousness, or emotional stability,” Barker says quoting from The Charisma Myth.

Feeling confident or powerful also correlates with success in a job interview, says Barker.

He quotes Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy who recommends doing a “power pose” in private before the interview:

“Preparatory power posing is taking a few minutes before walking into a stressful interaction or situation to open up, occupy more space, and make yourself big. Stand with your feet apart and your hands on your hips, or with your arms reaching up in a ‘V.’ Or sit with your legs in front of you, feet propped up on desk or a table, leaning back, with your hands on the back of your head, fingers interlaced, and elbows pointing out.”

Also be sure to also read my post 10 Tips To Prepare For a Job Interview.

Do you have a good or bad job interview story to share? I’d love to hear it.


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