There is nothing worse than leaving an interview feeling as though you did terrible. The commute back to work, home, or school is a long conversation in your head of what you could have done better. Could you have provided a better example to a question that had asked? Did you cover everything you wanted to say? Most likely you bombed the interview because you lacked showing confidence and you didn’t come prepared to sell yourself as qualified for the job. Instead of second guessing yourself for hours or days or weeks, make sure you do two things for the interview: be confident and come with memorized answers/talking points. Remember you are essentially selling yourself in an interview and proving that you are qualified by your previous work and school experience.
Confidence: During the interview it is important to appear confident. Notice I said appear. A lot of people are freaking out during the interview, but it is important to stay calm and collected. 4 things you need to do to appear confident:
Eye Contact – Look at the interviewer naturally as if you were talking to a friend or family member. When you don’t make any direct eye contact during the interview you appear nervous. If you have trouble looking them in the eye, focus on a spot between their eyes. They will not know the difference.
Posture – Sit back straight up in your chair with your shoulders slightly back. Slouching or leaning back can be seen as being nervous or disrespectful.
Body Language – This more relates to fidgeting. Do not play with your resume or pen. Find a natural place to put your hands. I recommend either keeping them on your lap or in a clasped position on top of the table. You can talk with your hands if it appears natural.
Speaking – Remember to speak at a natural pace and pause. There are some interviewees that will begin to rant and ramble on when they get nervous. Talk in complete sentences and remember to pause. It is also important to try and minimize your filler words. Filler words are your “ahs” and “ums”, but a drawn out “and” can be considered one too. Eliminating these words can make you sound more competent and confident. I push for you joining Toastmasters a lot on this site, but it is because even a year in the club can help you sound like a more confident speaker.
Memorized Answers: There are a certain number of questions that you are almost guaranteed to get asked during the interview. Come prepared with memorized answers. You don’t need a word for word memorized answer because you will sound like a robot most likely, but have a general idea how you will answer that question. 3 almost guaranteed interview questions you will be asked:
Why are you leaving XYZ company? – Have an idea of what you are going to say. For example, “I really like my current employer and I appreciate my job there. I would really like an opportunity to work in this part of a company, but at this time there really are not any openings at my current employer.” Notice nothing was ever negatively said about the current employer and the reason for wanting to leave is because of wanting to pursue an area that you find interesting.
Why do you want to work here? – This is where you can show you researched the company and did your homework, interviewers like this A LOT.
Tell me a little about yourself. – Have a short elevator type speech prepared. Touch a little on your past, your current responsibilities, and where you want to go with your career. For example, “I graduated from XYZ with a degree in accounting. Right out of school I went to work for ZZY where I was an audit associate for 2 years mostly working on audits for these clients……..I currently work for YXX as an assistant controller of the North American branch of the company. My main responsibilities are the day to day accounting as well as the closing process for both month end and year end. I have been doing this for 3 years now and I know I am ready to advance to a controller position. I really want to undertake more financial leadership.
A lot of companies are also transitioning into STAR format interview questions. STAR is an acronym for situation, task, action, and result. An example of a STAR format question and answer:
Tell me a time where you managed a problem with a short deadline?
Situation – set the scenario. “My coworker quit their job one day before closing without giving a 2 week notice.”
Task – what did you have to do. “I had to pick up three new closing duties that I had never performed. One of the tasks included AP reconciliation, something that normally took my coworker two days of the five day close period.”
Action – what did you actually do. “I spent the one day I had with my coworker taking extremely detailed notes of what I needed to do. Then when close week hit I stayed all day one of the days until 11:00pm so that I could AP reconciled in one day instead of two.
Result – how did the situation end up turning out. “Since I was able to stay late the one day, I afforded myself the time to complete the other new responsibilities and we were able to close the books on time with no mistakes.”
These are tough questions, but I would have a couple examples in my bag that you can fall back on.