Though I am involved with Interviews on a daily basis, many mid-level career minded professionals have not interviewed for years when they find themselves seeking their next opportunity. So how can you ace the job interview? This article should help guide you with some pre-interview tips that will help you land your next great opportunity.
Personally, I try to coach my candidates on preparation as the key to a successful interview. I’ll have them review the SEC filings if they are interviewing at a public company, send them research and information about the hiring managers, current news and basically anything that I feel is going to help them prepare.
Why so much focus on interview preparation? The answer is simple, you will be more confident. If you are properly prepared, it doesn’t matter what personality type you are interviewing with, you are going to be able to show that you know the company and the role you applied for and have well thought out topics to discuss and find commonality on in the interview. Find out as much as you can about the company you intend to work for. Being able to relate your experience to the job position and the company is going to help you stand out, and standing out is all it takes for a qualified candidate to ace an interview.
Make sure you are carrying with you a copy of your resume (I recommend candidates bring 3 copies, in case they meet multiple Managers) written in a professional manner, including all details that could be of interest for that specific company.
Look your interviewer in the eyes, because this thing shows that you have confidence in yourself and that you are paying attention.
Dress professional. Sometimes candidates that are ‘testing the waters’ don’t take the interview too seriously. They assume showing up in a tie and jacket are optional. However, the problem comes up if they end up really liking the opportunity, but it’s too late to go back and make that professional first impression. Always where your best suit to your interview.
Try to answer the questions concisely, limit your answers to a minute. This will prevent long stories that bring the interview off track. Keep in mind this is your first meeting, there is plenty of time to get to know people once you accept the offer. You may also want to think of it as a first date, you want to make a good impression, but you also don’t want to talk about all of your issues, problems at your old position etc. Keep it professional and positive.
Review your resume prior to going in. Some of your experience may be from a while back, but it can come up in a conversation in the interview and the last thing you want to do is stumble on your own work experience.
Prepare some well thought out questions, specifically based around the role, the structure of the department and the company. This will help you engage your interviewer.
It’s important to send a Thank You letter or email, in that order. This is about not only standing out, but also being professionally courteous, regardless if this is the right role for you or not. In the grand scheme of business networking, you may gain an excellent contact, even if you don’t accept the job.
Always remember you are the candidate. Sometimes in mid-level and Senior level roles, candidates are so knowledgeable that they try to control the interview. It is important to remember your role in the interview and let the hiring manager guide things, while looking for opportunities to give your presentation. Be humble, you have great achievements to share, confidence is excellent, but overconfidence or arrogance in an interview will never have great results.
Now that you are properly prepared, here are some general tips. They may sound like common sense, but on the day of the interview, many of us tend to have a lapse in thought. Don’t chew gum, no glasses on your head, no cell phone (or at least turn it OFF), bring only a folder or attaché for your resumes. One last suggestion that you may or may not have heard; Don’t wear cologne or perfume, though it may be your favorite, it may have also been the favorite of the hiring managers horrible ex and that’s the last thing you want on their mind during the interview.
Some of these suggestions are likely familiar, but hopefully refreshing with these tips will help you be prepared to face your next interview with confidence. Good luck!
Matthew is the VP of Business and Talent Acquisition with CPA By Choice and its subsidiary Staffing By Choice, a Human Capital Solutions firm headquartered in Miami, FL. When midsized companies are in need of part time, temporary or project based CFO services for a transformation, M&A scenarios or need financial and accounting management of any kind, they look to CPA By Choice. When seeking out permanent Human Capital Solutions in accounting, finance, investment banking, sales, admin or operations management, look to Staffing By Choice.
Feel free to connect with Matthew on LinkedIn and share your interview success story, (though the failures are sometimes worth sharing for others to learn from as well!)
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