First, dress for an interview and arrive on time or a little early. It’s okay to ask the person who scheduled the interview about the dress code. If you’re not sure dress a little more formal than you think necessary. Look up the directions in advance and if necessary drive by the day prior so you know exactly where to go.
The second thing is be genuine. When I’m looking to hire I’m looking for skill match and cultural fit, with the latter being the most important. We can train skills easier than we can train for interactions (aka ‘soft skills).
Third, use examples to answer questions when possible. This shows that you have transferable experiences and you’re not just reciting canned responses. This can be difficult to do on the spot so look at the job posting and think about situations that you can use. The situations can be from anywhere; work, school, or social settings (as long as it’s work appropriate). Try to use a new situation for each answer. If you need to re-use a situation quickly connect it to the new situation. Don’t be afraid to use failures as examples as long as you explain how you’ve learned from the situation and/or applied the learning. The examples of failures show self-awareness and the ability to build on past experiences.
Finally, ask about the next steps in the process. This gives you clues about when you should follow up and the topic of the follow up. Listen for clues for expectations. For example is they say “If you don’t hear from us by Friday you should contact Suzie in HR” then you know to call Suzie Friday afternoon or Monday morning. Early in my career I was told that I received the job because I listened to the clues and followed through. The hiring manager said “You did everything I suggested. The only thing left to do was tell you when to start.”
Tammy recommends the following next steps:
- Research 'behavior based interviews' to find examples of how to use situation examples to answer interview questions.
- Find a job posting that you would be interested in and identify situations that you could use to show the desired skills and/or job duties.
- Ask a friend or mentor to role play an interview asking mock interview questions where you can use the examples to answer the questions.