So far everything has fallen into place for your dream job. Your ‘kick-ass’ résumé captured the attention of the hiring manager. You nailed the initial phone screen, and now you’ve been invited in for an in-person interview. You know how critical it will be to prepare for the interview, but where do you start? How do you ensure you will present your best self in the interview?
Most savvy job seekers will naturally prepare for an important job interview by researching the company, studying the company website, familiarizing themselves with the job description and essential job functions, and practicing answering difficult interview questions.
But, to truly prepare for a job interview, it’s crucial that you take some time to prepare the appropriate mindset. Here are 5 important things to remember as you prepare for the job interview.
They already like you and believe you can do the job
The hiring manager has already read your résumé, and in most cases, had spoken with you via telephone. It's clear that you can do the job and have something valuable to contribute to the success of the company.
If not, they wouldn’t be talking to you. So, you can step into the interview with complete confidence that you are actually being considered for the position. They didn’t grant you the interview just to be nice.
They really want to meet you. In fact, they may be as excited about what you have to offer as you are about the opportunity.
They want you to do a good job on the interview
A lot of job seekers view a job interview as a big test that they will be very lucky to pass. When they think about job interviews, their palms sweat, and their stomachs turn as they imagine being grilled with tricky questions that they must answer correctly in order to pass. Step back and view the situation from the standpoint of the hiring manager.
The hiring process is stressful for everyone, especially the hiring manager. Vacancies on a team affect productivity and morale. Filling the position with a great candidate is their focus. And they have a good feeling you’re the stellar, high-performer they will be excited to add to the team.
Hiring managers have no interest in interviewing (and deflating the confidence of) nervous job seekers for sport.
The interview is about what you can do for them
How long will you stay with us? These questions seem like they focus on what you want and that is true, to a point. But, as you answer these questions, you must convey that what you really want is to contribute to the success of the organization and to be a part of a team.
Making a contribution and being a part of the company’s success must be more important than getting your foot in the door and advancing your career. Responding to questions in a manner that conveys an over interest in personal security can be detrimental to your success.
The interview is more like a blind date than a sales call
While it’s important to sell yourself in a job interview, an overly “salesy” mindset can convey an attitude of desperation. A job interview is much like a blind date. The hiring manager expresses interest in you, and you express interest in the company and the position. The interview is an opportunity for each of you to confirm mutual interest and determine whether or not that interest merits taking things to the next level.
Communicate your interest and put your best foot forward, but do not oversell. Desperation is never attractive on a blind date and certainly not in a job interview. And remember, your first dates are more successful when you are interested in learning more about the other person.
So prepare to ask thoughtful questions and engage in meaningful conversation with the hiring manager.
Be yourself and answer questions honestly
At the end of the day, the best answer to any question is the answer you arrive at most authentically and organically. Too often, job seekers will go into an interview believing they need to answer questions with “the correct answer” or that they need to embody a particular image or persona to win the job. In any other professional situation, they show up with complete confidence, but in a job interview, for some reason, they believe they need to play a particular role.
This faulty mindset likens the job interview to a “game” or “contest,” and those who play it are seldom winners. Consider for a moment that you are impressive enough without having to be anyone other than who you are. In other words, the hiring manager really wants to know what you think and what you have to say, so speak with self-assurance. You want to leave the interview believing that you presented yourself confidently and feeling good about the conversation, not wondering if they would have liked the real you better.
Viewed properly, a job interview is really just a conversation between two potential colleagues or strategic partners. It is an opportunity to learn, to share ideas, and to meet other professionals. With the appropriate preparation and mindset, the interview process can be a valuable way of building your professional network, even if you don’t land the job. And, it might even be fun!