Congratulations! You have just secured the opportunity to wow a potential employer! To make the best impression possible, here are our top tips to ace that interview.

  1. Understand the organization.
  2. Know who the decision-maker and interviewers are.
  3. Have a mental portfolio of your accomplishments.
  4. Prepare questions for the employer.
  5. Prep to set yourself apart.

Understand the organization

The first thing a hiring manager may ask is: “What do you know about us?” and “Why do you want to work for our company”? Hiring managers use this as test to indicate how interested you are in working for their company and how well you come prepared to meetings. Some managers think that if candidates do not bother to spend the time to research the firm, then they are a definite “Do Not Hire.”

Check out the organization’s website to get a general sense of what they are about:

  • What products/services are offered?
  • Who is their target audience?
  • Where are their office locations?
  • Who are the key members of management?
  • Look at their latest news and press releases and think about how this news may affect the position you applied for. For example, perhaps they just opened a new plant and need someone who can quickly step into a staffing role.
  • Check out their social media sites: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can give a good sense of the tone of their messages as well as important recent events.
  • Know the industry.
  • Identify key competitors.
  • Find an industry-specific journal and get up to speed on current trends.

Know who the decision-maker and interviewers are:

Before your interview, ask the recruiter (or whoever set up the interview), who it is you’ll be meeting with and their role in the company. Then research each interviewer on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn will tell you…

  • What they do in the company.
  • Their work history.
  • Specialized groups they may be involved in.

By possessing this information, you could turn an interview around by relating a tidbit from the interviewer’s background to your own career. Not only does this show you did your homework, but it will also help build rapport and differentiate yourself from other candidates.

Have a mental portfolio of your accomplishments:

Think back over your professional history and highlight your relevant experience, skills and strengths.

Determine the top five skills the job requires based on the job posting:

  • Review specific examples from your work history that prove you can meet and exceed expectations.
  • If you don’t have personal experience to draw from, prepare a case study on the company or a close competitor that shows your logic and problem solving ability.

Know your resume:

  • Be confident about your dates of employment, job responsibilities and accomplishments.

Be prepared for behavioral interview questions:

  • “Tell me about a time when…”
  • Structure your answers with the CAR method: Circumstance, Action, Result.
  • Confidently articulate what the problem was, how you resolved it and describe the outcome.
  • Highlight your logic and problem solving skills.
  • Stay on point.

Prepare questions for the employer

You should ask questions that:

  • Demonstrate your research – “Does the recent announcement of X have any impact on the role?”
  • Determine whether the fit is right – “How would you describe your company’s culture?
  • Follow up on an earlier question – “Can you give me some examples of…?”
  • Show you’re thinking to the future – “What does success look like in this role at the 30, 60, 90 day mark?”

Asking questions shows you are thinking ahead about the job and how certain developments may impact the business. This demonstrates to an employer that you are a “smart” candidate. You are already looking ahead at how to address possible future challenges and how you would fit into the team.

Prep to set yourself apart

Make sure you:

  • Have extra copies of your resume, pen and paper.
  • Send a personalized thank you as a follow-up. If working with a recruiter, send the thank you to the recruiter first. The recruiter will know how his/her client will react to a thank you note and will be able to best guide you in order to achieve a favorable result.
  • Dress up conservatively: dark suit, no bulky jewelry and avoid wearing strong fragrances.
  • For creative positions, bring a current portfolio of your work with copies to leave behind.
  • Arrive early (ten minutes max).
    • Being late gives an immediate negative impression.
    • Being drastically early is awkward for the receptionist and interviewer!