A Concise Guide to the Job Interview: Everything You Really Need To Know

It’s a big deal when a prospective employer calls you in for a job interview. They’ve deemed you qualified for the job based on your résumé. Your next task now involves preparing for an interview. What does the interviewer want to know? What do you want the interviewer to know? What kind of interview should you prepare for? Keep reading, and you’ll find all these answers and more in this concise guide.

What Does the Interviewer Want to Know About You?
An interviewer wants to confirm that you know what you say you know. Fluffing a résumé can cost you a job and even damage your reputation in some fields. Once confirmed, the interviewer will scrutinize your intangible skill set. Your work ethic and ability to coexist within a team could determine if you’re a good fit for your potential new employer. No business wants a disruptive employee.

What Do You Want The Interviewer to Know About You?
Convince your interviewer that they need you. Make your interviewer believe in you as much as YOU do.

Ascertain whether or not your potential job is a good fit for you. A key factor in preparing for an interview involves researching the position and the company before you interview. Learn their expectations. If you tour the facility, take note of the employees’ overall demeanor. Ask questions when appropriate.

What Kind of Job Interview Should You Prepare for?
The company’s interviewing process must filter out candidates that don’t meet its criteria. Most employers will pass along any information to assist you in preparing for an interview. Here are six common types of interviews you’re most likely to see:

1. The Screening Interview. This interview tends to be the most simple. Your potential new Human Resources department will contact you to confirm the accuracy of your résumé. Double-check your résumé and don’t fluff your qualifications.

2. The Selection Interview. This type of interview focuses on exploring your intangible skill set, such as your personality, and your ability to work with others. A hiring manager and/or employees close to the open position may conduct this process.

3. The Group Interview. Group interviews involve an interviewer speaking to multiple candidates simultaneously. This process allows an interviewer to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of many candidates at once. Leaders and followers emerge. Team players and team disruptors are quickly identified. Just be yourself. Intentionally “one-upping” your peers can result in gaining a job that doesn’t fit your capabilities.

4. The Panel Interview. In a panel interview multiple people scrutinize one candidate. This process can be quite intimidating. “Divide and conquer” the panel by establishing a rapport with individual members. Courtesy, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude can help separate you from other candidates.

5. The Stress Interview. Stress interviews can determine a candidate’s ability to respond to adverse conditions. An interviewer may manufacture an intense situation by using hasty questioning or calling for physical exertion to raise a candidate’s anxiety levels. Keep calm and perform with a clear mind. After the interview, you can decide whether your interviewer was really testing you or just being malicious.

6. The Behavioral Interview. This particular process allows the you to demonstrate your ability to perform the job you’re seeking. Employing your job knowledge is key to excelling in this interview.

How Should You Prepare for an Interview?
1. Research your potential employer. Knowing who you’re about to commit your time and expertise to is vital when preparing for an interview. Publicly traded companies must make their information available to the public. The SEC, company websites, news releases and reports, and social media pages are great starting points. It’s a little tougher to execute with privately-held companies, but it’s worth the effort to try. Seek out your network of family, friends, and coworkers. They may have intimate knowledge that will help you better than any press release can.

2. Research Yourself. Your interviewer will ask you very direct questions. Know yourself and explain yourself clearly. List attributes about yourself. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can motivate and empower you before the first question is asked. Seek out the advice and knowledge of your network. They know you better than you know yourself. Be honest with yourself and open to constructive criticism.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice! Hone your speaking skills by filtering out filler words such as, “um,” “uh,” and “like.” Focus on improving your body language and eye contact. Reach out to your network for help. Mock interviews can help spot weak points in your performance before your interviewer does.

4. Dress for Success. Your physical appearance should match the job you seek. If you’re unsure of what’s acceptable for your interview, call the employer and find out. Grooming is essential. Your hygiene should be reasonable. Hair, nails, and other accents shouldn’t draw attention from what you have to offer.

How Should You Conduct Yourself in an Interview?
Allow the interviewer to set the tone so you can establish an appropriate rapport and break the proverbial ice of initial contact. Try to match the speaking volume and cadence of your interviewer. If they speak softly, follow suit.

Smile. Relax. Physical gestures (hands, arms, eyebrows, etc.,) should emphasize your words. Your goal is to look engaged, not erratic. Speak slowly and clearly. Analyze the questions asked of you, and tailor your answers to match what they want to know with your abilities.

How Do You Handle Tricky Questions?
Tricky questions help interviewers learn your thought process. There may be no right or wrong answers. They’re also great for learning about the company’s thought process.

Some questions, however, can have legal ramifications if your answers are used to determine your employment status. Determinations based on race, sex, religion, national origin, physical disability, age, and sexual orientation can result in legal action against employers. You can either answer these questions or refuse them.

When discussing salary, offer a range based on similar salaries in your field and your geographic region. This ensures your value while keeping the company competitive in its industry.

Do You Have Questions?
Ask questions based on your prior research and what you learned during the interview. Your goal is to glean more information about your potential employer. For example, asking about a typical work day can show that you’re truly interested in working for their company. Remember not to force the issue of salary and benefits.

How Do You Follow Up After the Interview?
The best follow-up method is to send a “thank you” note. It’s a nice gesture of appreciation, and you can reiterate talking points or bring up an unmentioned thought. It’s best to do this by mail, email, or any other way in which you’ve already communicated with the interviewer prior to your consultation.

If you don’t receive any feedback within the time frame given to you, consider making a courtesy call to check up on your application status.