How to ace the interview: part II
If you read Part I of this post you’ve already learned a bit about preparing for an interview. In this next part, we’re going to talk about letting your personality shine, questions to expect, the importance of honesty, closing statements, and highlighting your soft skills. Enjoy!
Personality and presentation count
Personality counts, especially for companies that place a strong emphasis on community and culture. It’s amazing how far a genuine smile and great manners go. Interviewers love enthusiastic candidates because passion is exactly what teams are looking for. Letting your personality shine helps build rapport which may help you stand out and be remembered. Candidates who compliment the company/interviewer in a genuine way seem like a better fit. Look into their dress code so you can dress the part, but when in doubt go with business casual.
Anticipate their questions (and prepare your own)
Certain questions are almost guaranteed to be asked in any interview. They may ask why they should choose you, what your greatest strengths and weaknesses are, what you can bring to the table, why you left your last position, and an example of a challenge you overcame. Practice your responses a few times out loud but don’t over-prepare, you want to sound candid, not scripted. Set up a mock-interview with a professional career counselor for practice and feedback. Also prepare a few concise questions of your own about the company, position, opportunities, etc. to show your ambition and enthusiasm.
Honesty is (still) the best policy
Confidence is key, but find a balance with humility. Being honest about your weaknesses shows you’re staying true to your character, and showing the real you can make you more likable. If you don’t know the answer, admit you’re not familiar with the topic then transition to something related; ask them to elaborate which may prompt them to mention something you are familiar with; then express your enthusiasm to learn more about it. You’re not expected to know everything so it’s always better to be honest and express your willingness to learn (a great strength in any candidate) than to fake it ‘til you make it.
It’s a great idea to prepare a closing statement to wrap things up. Use this opportunity to reiterate what you bring to the table like your qualifications, confidence in the position, and alignment with company culture. Don’t be afraid to ask about next steps to clarify what you can expect moving forward and make a mental note on when to follow up. Also prepare to send a short thank you email to the interviewer 24-48 hours post-interview. Remember to thank them for their time and consideration in your closing statement as well as in the email.
Bonus tip: highlight your soft skills
Soft skills are becoming more of an asset in all positions. Employers are becoming more likely to hire juniors who are adaptable, willing to learn, and can communicate well as opposed to seniors who cannot. Be sure to discuss your soft skills to show you make a well-rounded employee who's able to fully utilize your hard skills. Great examples include suggesting solutions in the workplace or for an unsatisfied client, or helping out a colleague in need. Interviewers don’t usually ask about soft skills directly, so it’s your job to integrate them into your answers because they are listening for them, even if they don’t realize it.
We hope Part I and II of this post helped you prepare for your interview so you feel powerful and confident walking in. Remember that you’ve already made it to the second stage of the hiring process, so there’s already something about you that intrigues them. Keep going and good luck!