How to Ace Your Job Interview (With Common Questions)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated December 1, 2022
Published May 17, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
An interview gives you the opportunity to show a potential employer your qualifications and make a strong first impression on the hiring manager. To perform effectively in an interview, you should conduct research on the company, review the job description and practise your interview skills. In this article, we cover what to do to prepare for an interview, how to ace an interview and common questions employers typically ask.
What should you do to prepare for an interview?
To increase your chances of a successful interview, you should prepare before you meet with the hiring manager. Create a rough outline of the topics they are likely to discuss with you. Identify how to show them you're a strong candidate and think of opportunities to make a good impression. Elements to follow when preparing for an interview include:
Research: Conduct online research to learn more about the company, its employees and its values. You can review the "about us" webpage to get additional information about the company. This helps you provide an informed answer if the interviewer asks why you'd like to work for the organization.
Plan: Prepare for the interview a day or two beforehand by selecting your outfit, gathering your requested interview materials and closely reviewing the job description.
Practise: Research common interview questions and practise answering them before the interview. You can perform a mock interview with a friend or colleague or practise in front of a mirror to familiarize yourself with your mannerisms, posture and facial expressions.
How to ace a job interview
Follow these steps to perform well in your upcoming interview:
1. Research your prospective employer
Before going to an interview, conduct enough research on the company to be familiar with its goals, accomplishments, objectives and mission. A great way to do this is to research the company's website to learn more about its history, executives, recent announcements and corporate culture. You can also look for news articles to learn about its recent achievements and future goals. Find additional input on what it's like to work at the organization by reading employee reviews online.
Conducting research on the organization helps you better understand the company and the types of questions interviewers may ask. This helps you provide informed answers that demonstrate why your qualifications, achievements and experience make you the best fit for the role.
2. Reassess the job description
Closely review the job description to locate keywords, which are phrases or words used regularly throughout the document to highlight skills, characteristics and abilities employers look for in ideal candidates. Consider highlighting these keywords and using them when describing your expertise, background and strengths. Reflect on how your goals and qualifications align with the job description to provide relevant examples in each of your answers.
3. Practise interview questions
The interview questions may include topics specific to the industry, role or company. There are also general questions that many employers commonly ask during interviews. Search for these interview questions online and practise answering them. This helps you feel and look more prepared and confident during your interview. Keep your answers natural and refrain from sounding memorized or rehearsed when discussing answers you previously practised.
Read more: How to Succeed in a Virtual Interview
4. Use the STAR method
The hiring manager may ask behavioural questions to get an idea of how you handle situations in a professional environment. For example, they may ask you to describe a time when you overcame a challenge in a previous position. To provide detailed answers, use the STAR method.
The STAR method stands for situation, task, action and result. To practice this method, start by explaining the context of the example before discussing your position and goal in that circumstance. Reflect on the actions you took to mitigate the challenge and the results of your initiative.
5. Wear appropriate outfits for the interview
To make a strong first impression on the hiring manager, take your time to ensure you dress appropriately by planning your outfit a day or two before the interview. Review the company's social media pages or website to learn what employees are wearing and familiarize yourself with the dress code.
You can also consider the industry. For example, if you're interviewing for a traditional business professional position at a law firm or financial corporation, formal business attire is typically appropriate. You can also call the hiring manager beforehand and ask about their business' dress code to learn their preferences and ensure you look appropriate.
6. Prepare your interview questions in advance
Interviewers usually expect employees to ask their own questions to show they're prepared and highly interested in the role. Consider preparing some questions in advance and listening closely to the interviewer discussing the company to develop additional questions in the moment. You can ask questions about the corporate culture, growth opportunities within the organization or the next steps in the interview process.
7. Follow up after the interview
Once the interview is over, you can follow up to increase your consideration for the job. Try sending the hiring manager a thank you email within a few days of the interview. In your email, emphasize your interest in the job, remind them why you're a great fit for the role and express your gratitude for the opportunity.
If the hiring manager doesn't provide you with a response within a week after your interview, consider sending another follow-up email. This email expresses your continued enthusiasm for the position and interest in taking the next step in the hiring process.
Common job interview questions
As you prepare for your interview, consider the following commonly asked questions. Prepare ways to express your skills and qualifications in your responses to these questions:
Tell me about yourself.
Hiring managers often start the interview with this question to give you the opportunity to share highlights of your background. In your response to the question, provide a short overview of your career path, career goals and the duties of your current role. Emphasize your most impressive achievements and the skills and qualifications you've developed that are most relevant to the role.
Related: Interview Question: "Tell Me About Yourself" (Tips and Example Answers)
What are your strengths or weaknesses?
Interviewers ask this question to learn more about areas where you believe you excel at and can improve. When discussing your strengths, focus on providing an answer that highlights your most relevant soft and hard skills. As you mention your weaknesses, consider choosing a skill you've already taken steps to improve. For example, you could mention your difficulties with a certain software tool, but that you're taking online classes to improve this skill set.
Why did you apply for this position?
Employers include this question in interviews to find out what you know about the company and the specifics of the role. This question provides an opportunity to show how much you've researched the company and the job listing. In your response, mention the organization's accomplishments or mission and vision statements and how they align with your personal goals. This can show the hiring manager how enthusiastic you are about the role and highlight why you're the perfect candidate.
Why are you leaving your current position?
Employers often ask this question to understand what motivated you to find a new job and if you're still on good terms with your recent employer. Keep your response positive and professional. Focus on the benefits of the position you're interviewing for, like more opportunities for professional growth. You can also use this question to reiterate the skills and qualifications you have that make you such a great fit for the role.
Why is there a gap in your resume?
There are several reasons you may have a gap in your resume, including illness, extended travel, or being laid off. Employers value honesty, and you can use the opportunity to explain what you did during that time, without going into extensive detail.
I f the reason behind the gap in your resume personal, you can explain that to the hiring manager. Be sure to redirect the discussion to what skills and qualifications you bring to the table, despite the time without formal employment.
Why should we consider hiring you?
Hiring managers ask this question to encourage you to explain why you think you're the best fit and the value you can bring to the role. Try to emphasize your experience in your answer, highlighting both your hard and soft skills and how they apply to the position. Be sure to mention your most impressive academic and professional achievements, and show your enthusiasm for the company's mission and how it aligns with your personal career goals.
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