These job interviewing related tips — preparing for job interviews, tips for handling tricky interview questions, and more — have been gathered from numerous sources throughout Quintessential Careers and organized here for your convenience.
Considering using mind-mapping to prepare for a job interview? While mind-mapping can be quite informal, you can also find mind-mapping software, much of it at no cost. Find a huge listing of mind-mapping software, tools, and information at 99 Mind Mapping Resources, Tools, and Tips. See also Andrew Makar’s article, Mind Map Your Interview and What is Mind Mapping? (and How to Get Started Immediately).
Read more in our article, Mind Mapping: A Tool for Job-Interview Prep.
As part of a post-interview analysis of your performance ask yourself how good was the chemistry or rapport between you and the interviewer? If the chemistry is weak, the candidate is not likely to get the job, especially if the candidate would be supervised by the interviewer if hired. And if you were not able to build rapport in the interview, you may not be able to salvage your chances. But you can try in your followups. If you write your thank-you letter with a tone of warmth and mention how much you enjoyed talking with the interviewer, you may pull off the psychological trick of convincing the interviewer that rapport actually was strong between the two of you. Try to recall any personal interest the interviewer mentioned during the small-talk portions of the interview. If the interviewer gave you nothing verbally to latch onto, perhaps his or her office indicated personal interests. Did you spot any collectibles in the office? The point is, try to strike a chord with the interviewer by bringing up topics that show that you paid attention to his or her personality. For example: “How ’bout those Mets?” “I loved your collection of glass figurines. Have you visited that new shop on 6th Street? They have a wonderful selection there.” “After you mentioned that article on branding in Business Week, I read it myself, and I agree with you about the impact these concepts will have in our industry.” Read more in our article, Job Interview Post-Mortem: Deconstructing Your Job Interview’s Highs and Lows.
Compose (and personalize) post-interview thank-you letters to each person you met. Each thank-you letter you write does not need to be completely different — you can develop a few paragraphs that may be basically the same in each letter — but you should always try and personalize elements of each letter, typically to something specific from your meeting (such as a shared interest or acquaintance or a key skill mentioned). Make certain each person’s name, spelling, and title is correct before sending. (Collecting business cards during the interview is helpful, but if it’s too late for that, you can always call the department receptionist/assistant and ask for assistance in getting everyone correct.) Read more tips in our 10 Tips for Writing a Job-Search Interview Thank-You Letter.
In analyzing your performance following a job interview, recall the interviewer’s response to your answers to his or her questions. Can you distinguish the answers that seemed to be home-runs based on the interviewer’s reaction? For example, did the interviewer’s eyes light up, did he or she smile or nod during any of your responses? Did you detect a look of concern or a lack of connection during other responses? Your home-run responses are the ones you should consider emphasizing in your thank-you letter. For example: I’m so pleased that you agree that my senior research project in seismology provides me with excellent experience for this position.” Read more in our article, Job Interview Post-Mortem: Deconstructing Your Job Interview’s Highs and Lows.
Be genuine in your appreciation when you write a post-interview thank-you letter. Write your thank-you note from the heart. Everyone values authentic communications, so rather than using a boring thank-you letter template from the Web, use your own words and feelings to compose your letter. Find a way to express your genuine feelings of appreciation and connection with the interviewer. One word of caution: Don’t go overboard with (fake) praise and appreciation; keep it honest and simple. (In terms of looking for examples, certainly feel free to review our sample thank-you letters for style and technique, but then compose your letters in your own words.) Read more tips in our 10 Tips for Writing a Job-Search Interview Thank-You Letter.
If the responses you gave inyour last job interview that did not seem to elicit a positive response from the interviewer could be targets for damage control in your thank-you letter. Damage control must be considered extremely carefully and handled even more cautiously because you don’t want to bring up negatives. An interview response you thought was weak might have seemed perfectly fine to the interviewer, so you don’t want to call attention to it. Save damage control for situations in which you gave an off-base or incomplete response. Instead of being negative or apologetic in your thank-you letter, simply state that you would like to give a more complete answer to the question, and then do so. If you left important information out of any of your responses, it’s fine to add that information in your letter: “I meant to mention that my project-management skills have saved my current employer significant costs.” Read more in our article, Job Interview Post-Mortem: Deconstructing Your Job Interview’s Highs and Lows.
In your post-interview thank-you letter, reinforce your interest and enthusiasm in the position and employer. One of the first things your thank-you letter should do is stress your interest in the employer and the job you are seeking. Make it clear that you are excited about the possibility of working with the organization. A great way to show your enthusiasm is emphasizing something positive you discovered about the employer during the interview — or from your research. Read more tips in our 10 Tips for Writing a Job-Search Interview Thank-You Letter.
After a job interview, reflect on what the interviewer really emphasized during your meeting. Finish this sentence: “Based on what the interviewer stressed in this interview, the most significant need I could fill for the employer is ————.” In your thank-you letter, demonstrate that you picked up on that need, you understand it, and you are ready to fill it. The interviewer’s emphasis can also serve as a guide to what to leave out of your letter. You may have gone into the interview convinced of the importance of mentioning particular skills or accomplishments, but if the interviewer’s emphasis was in other areas,, you probably have no need to bring them up in your letter. Read more in our article, Job Interview Post-Mortem: Deconstructing Your Job Interview’s Highs and Lows.
Highlight your key selling points and fit with the job when you write your post-interview thank-you letter. One of the main goals of an employment interview is to determine if there is a good fit between the interviewee (you, the job-seeker) and the employer; thus, one of your key goals in your thank-you letter should be to clearly express your strong fit with the organization. At the same time, it’s also good to mention a few of your key selling points — points that match exactly to the needs/requirements of the position you are seeking. Even a thank-you letter is a chance to market yourself (and add distance to your competition). Read more tips in our 10 Tips for Writing a Job-Search Interview Thank-You Letter.
In your job interview, did the interviewer voice any concerns about your qualifications? Did he or she raise any objections? If you didn’t address these in the interview, confront them in your thank-you letter. And be sure in your next interview to ask whether the interviewer has any concerns about hiring you. See also our article, Closing the Sale and Overcoming Objections in the Job Interview. Read more in our article, Job Interview Post-Mortem: Deconstructing Your Job Interview’s Highs and Lows.
When you write your post-interview thank-you letter, address any weaknesses or misunderstandings. In the best of job interviews, an interviewer can question some element of your qualifications — perhaps not quite enough experience or not quite the right experience, or perhaps not having the right education or certifications. If any questions about your qualifications were raised in the interview — and even if you addressed them well in your response — carefully reiterate in your thank-you letter that you have all the qualifications (and ideally more) than the employer seeks. Don’t go overboard here, but make your case. Read more tips in our 10 Tips for Writing a Job-Search Interview Thank-You Letter.
How did your last job interview close? What next steps did the interviewer describe? Be sure you understand the process and reinforce your understanding in your letter; doing so will help propel the next step into action. If you aren’t sure of the next step, try to find out, perhaps through a quick e-mail to the interviewer or a call to his or her assistant. (And if you didn’t find out in the interview what the next step is, keep in mind for future interviews to always ask about the decision process at the end of the meeting.) Read more in our article, Job Interview Post-Mortem: Deconstructing Your Job Interview’s Highs and Lows.
In your post-interview thank-you letter, add content/points not addressed in interviews. Job interviews are stressful situations and even with excellent preparation, we can sometimes forget to mention something that may be a key selling point. If that happened to you, no worries, as you can add the point in your thank-you letter. As you are summarizing your fit with the position and employer, you simply add the additional point you forgot to make in the interview. Read more tips in our 10 Tips for Writing a Job-Search Interview Thank-You Letter.
What is your overall gut feeling about your most recent job interview? Sometimes we walk out of a job interview absolutely confident we aced it; other times, we’re pretty sure we blew it. It’s important to check in with how well you performed, measure that feeling against the hiring outcome, and diagnose what went right or wrong with the interview. For example, if you felt your performance was stellar, but you don’t get the job offer or at least move on to the next step in the hiring process, your perceptions about your interview skills may be off base. You may want to do some mock interviews with friends or career practitioners to get their feedback. Of course, it’s quite possible that your performance was stellar, but the employer found someone else to be a better fit with the job. If you don’t get the offer, you can try asking the interviewer to critique your interview; however, most employers these days won’t provide such feedback as they fear lawsuits. However, if you have a network contact inside the organization, you may be able to get feedback through that person. Read more in our article, Job Interview Post-Mortem: Deconstructing Your Job Interview’s Highs and Lows.
Keep post-interview thank-you letters short, concise. Like cover letters, your thank-you letter should be fairly short and concise — unless you feel you need to add information or reinforce a question that arose about your qualifications. Most thank-you letters will be about a page long — about four paragraphs in total — whether hand-written, keystroked, or emailed. [For more about format, see this article: Job Interview Thank-You Letter Formula.]
While it’s sometimes uncomfortable or even painful to relive a job interview, performing an autopsy on it is important to enable you to follow up effectively and to determine what you can do differently in your next interview. For example, are there recurring questions or topics that seem to cause you difficulty in interviews? Plan to polish those areas for future interviews. To conduct a truly comprehensive post-mortem of your interview, use our Job Interview Checklist. And don’t forget to use the checklist before your next interview!
Close your post-interview thank-you letter with repeated thanks and appreciation. End your thank-you letter with a short paragraph thanking the person again for taking the time to meet with you and expressing your strong interest in the position and your hope and interest in seeing him/her again soon. Read more tips in our 10 Tips for Writing a Job-Search Interview Thank-You Letter.
One of the biggest tricks in job interviews is being prepared with responses to possible interview questions. You don’t know exactly what will be asked, but ideally you have a body of content in your brain that you can draw from based on your skills, experience, accomplishments, and knowledge of the employer you’re interviewing with (as well as your fit with that employer). The real feat is being able to keep all that information organized in your brain so you can easily access it as you respond to the interviewer’s questions. Qint Carers as documented one excellent technique — composing written responses to frequently asked interview questions. A similar method — but one especially geared for visual learners — is mind-mapping. Visual learners prefer to take in information through sight and like to learn through reading, diagrams, charts, graphs, maps, and pictures. Read more in our article, Mind Mapping: A Tool for Job-Interview Prep.
After a job interview, remember to thank everyone. A job interview starts the moment you arrive and ends when you leave, thus anyone you spend time with during the day — whether in a traditional interview or over a meal — needs an individualized thank-you for spending time with you. And, of course, once your job-search is over, it’s also a nice gesture to thank everyone else who helped you get the position, such as your references. Read more tips in our 10 Tips for Writing a Job-Search Interview Thank-You Letter.
- An overall introduction to yourself that would also work for the most frequently asked interview “question,” “Tell me about yourself.” Your mind map for this intro would consist of a few concise points about yourself sharply targeted to the job you’re interviewing for.
- Experience and accomplishments that relate to what you’d be doing in the position you’re interviewing for. Go through your resume and pick out the experience highlights that are most relevant to the prospective position. Develop a story for each highlight that epitomizes and summarizes that experience, using the Situation-Action-Results (SAR) format. (Read more.)
- “Hard” skills. These are the knowledge areas of specific technical skills you need to do the job, such as accounting skills, information-technology skills, or sales-forecasting skills. The best clue to what hard skills you might be asked about is the want ad or job posting you originally applied to, or a job description of the position. Again, develop a SAR story for each skill.
- “Soft” skills. These are the unquantifiable skills that are in demand for performing many types of jobs — communication, teamwork, leadership, interpersonal, problem-solving, critical thinking, customer service, for example. Again, your tipoff to the skills sought in the position you’re interviewing for will be the ad, job posting, or job description. Again, develop a SAR story for each skill.
- Knowledge of the employer and how you fit in with the employing organization. Virtually all interviewers will ask questions that require you to demonstrate your knowledge of the employer. For material to mind-map, you’ll need to research the organization. (Read more.) Your mind map would then consist of various key pieces of information about the employer and how your background aligns with those items.
- Questions to ask the interviewer. Most interviewers open up the discussion to your questions at the end of the interview, and you should always have questions prepared to ask. Your mind map for this portion of the interview could feature various aspects of the job or organization that you want to learn more about. (Read more.)
Let’s look at what an actual job-interviewing mind map might look like for an interview question targeting the skill of persuasiveness. This map was generated using the Web-based mind-mapping interface at Mindomo.
Read more in our article, Mind Mapping: A Tool for Job-Interview Prep.
Check out all of our Quick and Quintessential Job-Search Interviewing Tips.
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