Successful Job Interview

Three Keys to a Successful Job Interview

Before you are offered a new job you must complete a successful job interview. Strong preparation, making a good first impression and selling yourself are crucial to impressing a potential employer.


The first key to a successful job interview is preparation. This begins with your job search. While some applicants take a shotgun approach, sending resumes and applications to every listing they find, this is not the most effective way to find a job that will be a good fit for your interests and abilities. You will increase your chances of finding a position if you send out many applications, but make sure you actually want each position you apply for. Once you’ve narrowed your list, tailor your resume and cover letter to each specific job instead of using the same generic paperwork for all of them.

Study up on the industry you hope to work in. Even if you have worked in the field for years, do a bit of research and see if there are any recent innovations you are unaware of. Research the position and the company thoroughly so you can speak intelligently about the potential job duties and the mission and culture of the company.

Prepare for the interview itself by finding out what type of interview will be conducted and recruiting a friend to conduct a mock interview with you. Practice responding to questions with stories that highlight the qualities, skills and experiences that most qualify you for the position. Prepare a few questions to ask the interviewer. These questions should show the interviewer you are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but also help you to determine whether the job is a good fit for you.

First Impressions

Many employers develop strong feelings about a candidate in the first few minutes of the interview. Be sure your clothes are clean and pressed and your personal hygiene is impeccable before you arrive. Double check the time and date and plan your route to the location. Always allot plenty of time for delays so you can arrive early and take a moment to compose yourself.

Be professional and courteous to everyone in the office, not just the person you are interviewing with. If you are rude to an assistant or short with a secretary it will likely get back to the recruiter and may destroy your chances of a callback. In the interview you’ll want to convey confidence but not cockiness. Be straightforward about your achievements without bragging. Show the interviewer you are serious about the position without appearing desperate. These fine lines can be tricky to negotiate but are essential to a successful job interview.

Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and look him or her in the eye. Wait for them to offer you a seat, then sit up straight, leaning forward slightly to show you are alert and interested in the conversation. Keep your language and conversational tone professional throughout the interview. You are not here to make a friend, but to impress a potential boss. Don’t use slang, and avoid filler words like “um”, “like” and “you know”.

Selling Yourself

The most important task in a successful job interview is selling yourself. Many people are uncomfortable bragging about themselves. Remember, though, that you are not there to simply tell the interviewer you are a superior worker. “I’m really great at sales,” “I’m the best leader ever” and “I promise I’m the strongest candidate” are not exemplary responses to any question. They exhibit false bravado but don’t actually tell the interviewer anything about you as a candidate.

Instead, show your competence by talking about specific experiences, skills and accomplishments. In your interview prep you should have generated a list of these stories. Now is the time to use them. Illustrate your answer to each question with a specific instance when you exhibited a quality the recruiter is looking for. Include measurable data whenever possible.

The final step to a successful job interview is sending a thank-you note afterward. For most industries email is appropriate, but prestigious law and accounting firms may prefer a traditional paper and ink card. Thank the interviewer for their time and consideration, reference specific points that you think they really liked, give them a bit more information about yourself and end by stating that you are very interested in this opportunity.

Finding a new job can be stressful. Give yourself the best chance of a successful job interview by preparing thoroughly, making a good first impression and selling yourself with detailed stories of your past successes.

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