Actually, I’ll be talking about two strategies for acing your job interview.
While there are many moving parts to properly and thoroughly preparing for a job interview, I’m going to be talking about only two in this post. The surprising thing about this strategy is that these two aspects of preparing for a job interview will give you at least 80% of everything you’ll need to properly prepare for acing your interview.
The Best Two Job Interview Strategies
Do Your Research
By this, I mean thoroughly researching every aspect of the company for which you’re interviewing.
This means online research about the company, its history, its current goals and objectives, the names of its managers and executives. You’ll need to use Google, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, press releases, and even YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok.
You’re looking for any and all information about the company and its managers, particularly those in the area of the company that contains the position for which you’re interviewing.
Your goal is to become the candidate who is the most knowledgeable about the company and its personnel. You’ll then be able to weave this knowledge into your answers, as well as the questions you’ll prepare to ask during the interview.
I have been in the job market myself (yes, Hiring Managers do sometimes have to interview for a new job!) and I once had a scheduled interview for a senior IT management position.
I put in over 20 hours researching the company. I used as much of this knowledge as I could when answering questions during the interview. I did this by frequently adding on the end of my answers something like this: “And this situation was similar to what your company faced with ____”. I filled in the blank with a relevant piece of information I found in my research.
The opportunity to do this may only come up with one or two questions, but it’s a powerful approach that few candidates can pull off.
I made it through the first and second rounds of interviews and was one of four candidates that made it to the final interview. As it turned out, I was the one selected.
I was told later by my new boss that I was the least qualified of the four finalists but was by far the most knowledgeable about the company and the challenges it faced.
Prepare Stories about Your Accomplishments
I’ll bet you thought I was going to say “prepare answers to questions”!
Your answers will be much more effective if you present them as stories, rather than sterile facts.
For example, let’s say you’re interviewing for an accounting position and you’re asked how many years of experience you have. You could answer like this: “I have seven years of experience.”
Yes, that answered the question but it’s not a memorable answer.
Or, you could answer like this: “I have seven years of experience. My first year was as a junior accountant. I was then promoted and spent three years as a full accountant, followed by three more years as a senior accountant. During that time I set the company record for both quantity and quality of audits performed in a single year.”
Now that’s an answer that any Hiring Manager would love to hear!
What you’ll want to do is prepare stories such as this for every requirement listed in the job posting. Many interview questions are derived from the job requirements. If you prepare stories in advance for each requirement, you’ll be far more prepared than most of your competition.
But what about all those other interview questions that you’ve read about elsewhere, those that aren’t specifically related to the job requirements? How do you handle those?
Yes, there are dozens if not hundreds of interview questions you may be asked. It’s nice to practice answering as many as you can, but only after you’ve prepared accomplishment stories based on the job requirements.
With hundreds of potential interview questions, you can’t possibly guess which ones will be asked in your interview. Because the odds are higher for questions related to the job requirements, you should always prepare answers for these first.
Two Most Common Interview Questions
When we’re talking about those more general interview questions, the ones not related to a specific job requirement, these are the two common ones you’re likely to come across.
Tell Us About Yourself
This is where you’ll use your “One Minute Elevator Story” (you did prepare one, didn’t you?).
You can argue that your resume already addresses this question. However, the interview panel is going to want to hear you recap that information into a story about yourself as it relates to the position for which you’re interviewing.
This is your opportunity to highlight those portions of your resume that best fit this position. It’s okay to start with a few words about your educational background if it’s relevant, but then go straight into recapping the parts of your background, skills, and experience that make you the best candidate for the job.
This is not the time to talk about your hobbies, children, or pets. None of that is relevant. What I want to hear as a Hiring Manager is what makes you stand out as a candidate for my specific opening. The better you tailor your answer to that, the better your chances of acing the interview.
What Is Your Greatest Weakness
This is the question I’ve seen many candidates stumble on over the years. It is truly a landmine waiting for you to step on.
I’ve seen candidates blurt out weaknesses that were funny, sad, puzzling, and even deal killers for the job. I once had a candidate for a marketing position tell me that he gave great presentations but his greatest weakness was he had difficulty closing the sale.
There are two ways to handle this question. One is an okay method, and the other is the interview acing method.
The okay method is to be prepared with a weakness that is relevant and believable, but one that you’re in the process of correcting.
For example, let’s say you’re interviewing for a sales position. You could say that your greatest weakness is making cold calls, but you’ve now developed some effective scripts and are becoming much more comfortable.
You’ve admitted to a weakness, but one that you’re overcoming.
The Interview acing method of answering this question is to not answer it at all. I cover how to do this in detail in another post.
The Bottom Line
These two preparation methods do take some time. However, if you do nothing else but focus on these two, you’ll greatly increase your chances of acing your interview.