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12 Tips for a Winning Interview, Part 2

by THEA kelley | March 3, 2021

In my previous post I provided six tips for a stand-out job interview that gets you an offer. Here are six more tips on how to ace job interviews.

7. Go for dialogue, not monologue. 

Draw the interview into dialogue by asking questions early in the interview, not just at the end. For example, if you’d like a little more information before answering a question, say, “I’d love to answer that. Before I do, can you give me a little background on how X is handled here at Y Company? That would help me focus my answer on what’s relevant to you.” Or ask a conversation-starting question at the end of an answer. For example, “So that’s how I’ve worked with that in the past. How does that align with your team’s culture?”

8. Give lots of specific examples.

Use the SOAR format: Situation, Obstacles, Actions, Results. Quantify results where possible. How well, how fast, how inexpensively did you get the work done? Offer “evidence” of the quality of your work, naming specific impacts. Were your methods adopted by others? Did you receive a special note from the CEO? Remember a particularly quotable compliment you received? Be specific.

Stories are crucial in interviewing. You can read my post of advanced techniques to further hone your storytelling skills.

Why are stories and other specifics so important? Because without them, you’re simply making claims without providing a reason for the interviewer to believe you.

9. Prepare your state of mind.

Not everything about the interview process is intellectual. It’s common to feel anxious at interviews, but it’s not helpful to say the least. And there’s actually a lot you can do about it. Read my posts “7 Secrets to Conquering Your Fear of Interviews” and “How Not to Go Blank in an Interview.”

10. Ask good questions that show you’ve done your homework on the company, on line and through your contacts. (Use LinkedIn!)

Do some good research, then ask intelligent questions about the company, the team, and the work. After they answer, be ready to respond to what you’ve learned. For example, “You said your top priority is (whatever). May I tell you about how I’ve made that happen in the past?”

11. Close the interview effectively.

As the interview is wrapping up, offer some brief and effective closing remarks. Thank the interviewer for their time, sum up in one or two sentences why you think it’s a great fit, express a strong interest in the role and ask about next steps. If this is your final interview and you want the job, say so.

12. Follow up.

Send a followup message within 24 hours. (Email, handwritten notes and typed letters each have their advantages; which one is best depends on the industry, the timing, and other circumstances.) Reiterate your interest, reinforce what went well, and see if you can ameliorate anything that didn’t, e.g. by adding something you forgot to say.

Follow up about once a week, usually via email. Don’t focus your communications on asking whether they’ve made a decision. Instead, update them that you’re still available and interested, and continue the interview conversation by adding a new thought or fact, perhaps something you discovered through continued reading about the company and the space they work in.

Bonus Tip: Consolidate your memory of the conversation.

If it’s okay with the interviewer, you may want to take a few notes during the interview. And definitely do so immediately afterwards: go over any notes you took, clarify your scribbles and add more detail. These notes will help you in writing followup messages and preparing for subsequent interviews.

The Good News and the Bad News about These Interview Tips:

The bad news is, this is a lot of work. You’ll even need to practice.

The good news is, since it is a lot of work, most of the other candidates won’t bother. That’s why you’ll stand out, ace your job interview and get the job!

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