How to Nail the Interview

There’s an old joke about how much easier it is to get a job you don’t really want, and we’re not sure if that’s true, but there are a few surefire strategies to help you make sure your interview goes as well as you’d like it to. It doesn’t matter if you’re fresh out of school or an old pro, you usually leave an interview second-guessing your answers or wondering if you called your interviewer by the wrong name.

Try these tips to really nail your interview:

1. Listen

This can actually be one of the hardest things to do when you’re in an interview. Mainly because your instinct is to do more talking. You’re nervous, you’re trying to make a good impression, and you also want to make sure that you’re presenting all of the qualities that make you a great candidate for the job. Nerves and the pressure you’re putting on yourself to be great can actually create a huge internal dialogue that makes it a bit difficult to actually pay attention to what’s happening around you.

If you’ve ever been in an interview and forgotten what question you were just asked, you’ve probably been a victim of this issue. The best thing you can do is try to be mindful and be in the moment. Coming across as interested in what people are saying and engaged in attempts at conversation can be just as important as trying to find an opening to list all your best attributes.

2. Ask questions

Most interviewers are looking for someone who’s the right fit. They know you want a job, but most companies want candidates who want to stay at the company and grow—they don’t want to have to go through the hiring process again in six months. One way to indicate that you’re serious about the company and the position is to ask questions. This shows that you’re serious about trying to make sure the position is a good fit for you, and can also indicate your enthusiasm for this particular job or corporation.

Obviously it’s best to keep your questions relevant and not too mercenary (like asking when you can expect your first raise). Ask about the company atmosphere. Ask what a typical day looks like for people in your position. Ask about how your team functions or which projects you will work on.

3. Follow-up

Yes, you really do need to write a thank-you note. Make sure you either send notes individually to each interviewer or at least include all the interviewers as addressees on your note. There are many “dos-and-don’ts” articles for what to include in a good interview thank you, but the best advice is to specifically mention a couple of things you talked about in the interview. Also, be sure to express what about the company or the interview panel impressed you or made you think that their workplace is somewhere you would very much like to work and grow.