4 Key Areas to Know About Yourself to Ace the Interview

Job Interview

Good news: You applied for a position with your resume or someone saw your LinkedIn profile and contacted you for an interview—congrats. Now the real work of research and interview prep begins.

Like studying for a test, you can prepare and review some of the information ahead of time. Believe it or not, many job candidates don’t prepare for job interviews and figure they’ll just wing it. Spending just 30 to 60 minutes (at a minimum) can improve your chances of securing a job offer.

Intelligence on the company can be vital information that you can use to your strategic advantage in the interview to answer the interviewer’s questions and even negotiate salary. Just as important is research on yourself and what you have to offer an employer.

Prepare, research the employer, and do some self-reflection in the four areas below to ensure that you know yourself and what you have to offer so well that you can talk comfortably about your experience and handle any question or objection with ease.

What Employers Really Want to Know About You
Think about a job interview from the employer’s perspective. They are looking for the best fit—skills, experience, education—and, most importantly, fit with the company’s culture. By understanding a company’s needs, you can identify and communicate how you can help them in the job you’re seeking. Although you have no way of knowing the exact questions you’ll be asked, most questions fall into the following five major areas: 

  • Who you are
  • What sets you apart from the other candidates
  • Your ability to solve a problem they have 
  • Why you might not be the best fit for the job
  • Why you’re looking for a new job 

When developing answers for questions, think in terms of which category the question falls into and what information the employer is seeking to strategically preparing for interviews.

The Position You’re Applying For
Another way to make sure you’re prepared is to be clear about the position you are applying for and its role in the company, particularly which of the employer motivators the position you seek fulfills. Be sure to research and find out before the interview, if possible: 

  • The name and job title of the person the position reports to 
  • Names and titles of employees that report to this position 
  • The top three challenges of the job
  • Which of the following “employer buying motivators” apply to the position:
    • Making money
    • Saving money
    • Saving time
    • Making work easier
    • Solving a specific problem
    • Being more competitive
    • Building relationships/ image 
    • Expanding business
    • Attracting new customers 
    • Retaining existing customers
    • Based on salary research, the expected salary range for this position and your bottom line salary figure as well your ideal salary figure 

What Makes You Competitive
There likely will be several outstanding candidates vying for this position. Knowing and being able to speak to the unique value you bring to the position and the organization will be critical in helping you differentiate yourself from the other candidates. Be sure to know and be able to articulate: 

  • Your biggest strength/qualification for this position
  • What sets you apart from other candidates
  • Anything unique or “value added” that you bring to the table 

The Questions You Don’t Want Them to Ask
Just as important is being confident and ready to handle those likely objections an interviewer could have about your background. Being able to speak confidently when asked about any potential weakness in your skill set or about your job history is critical. Prepare answers to those questions you “hope they don’t ask you” to boost your confidence and your chances. Give some thought to and craft responses about:

  • Anything that might keep you from getting the job (i.e., lack of industry experience, lack of years of experience, over-qualification).
  • The questions you least want to be asked in this interview (i.e., Why did you leave your last job? Why do you have so many short-term positions? Why are you switching careers?) 
  • And ...“What is your greatest weakness?” 

A good resource for ideas for crafting interview answers is “How to Handle Common Interview Questions” by Susan Joyce. Preparing well for the interview can also help you ask better questions in the interview so that you can determine if the company is a good fit for you. Remember—a job interview is about the “fit” from your perspective as well as a “fit” from the company’s point of view. Interviewing is a skill and the more interviews you go on, the more confident and skilled you’ll get.


Did You Know ...

Working 9 to 5 may soon be a relic of the past. According to a new survey of 1,000 full-time employees  in IT, financial services, sales/professional and business services, 63 percent of workers believe “working nine to five” is an outdated concept, and many find it tough to leave the office mentally. Nearly 1 in 4 (24 percent) check work emails during activities with family and friends. What do you think? Read on for more details on the study


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