A job interview is not a test of your knowledge, but your ability to use it at the right time.

I get asked fairly often, from college students to seasoned professionals, on advice for having a good interview. They range from part-time extra work to college entrance interviews to major milestone jumps in a person’s career. I get so encouraged when people are seeking help in meeting their personal and professional goals and luckily, no matter what you are interviewing for there are a few key things that will help you stand out and ace that interview.

Be a storyteller

One of the most important things that you want to get across during the interview is your story. There is only one you after all, and the interviewer wants to get to know that person. Build yourself a mental Rolodex of stories that showcase your success, drive, ambition, and values.  What you’ll look for in the interview are times to insert one of these stories. Having a good library of stories to tell helps you immensely in an interview because you will not find yourself mentally scrambling to answer questions. You’ll hear the question, roll through your examples, and pull out the story that matches most. For the interviewer, it shows your quick response and attentiveness. Rehearse your stories and examples with a friend, family member or colleague then sharpen and polish those stories. One of the quickest ways to kill an interview is to come unprepared and stumble through answering the questions while showing no personality.

If you are looking for ideas to jump-start your story Rolodex, do a search for typical interview questions and begin building your stories around those.

Know your numbers and business trends

Numbers are relative to the job you are applying for. For the college student/new career, it may be your school numbers and accolades.  For the person trying to move up the ladder, it’s all of their current business numbers and how you and the team impacted a positive change. To take this up another level, bake these numbers into your stories from the previous section. You are then showcasing yourself twice at one time.

For business trends, prepare to share your desire to learn and see the larger picture of the changing environment. It’s good to mention books and podcast that you are listening to. Following the news on social media is good. Great is knowing what companies are doing and testing and then being able to discuss those changes with the interviewer.

Know the position and company (But have questions)

You want to know as much as possible about both the position and the company before the interview. If its for a certain department, do research on who works there, what they are known for and what their impact is for that organization.  If it involves a potential move to a new city, know things about the city beforehand. Where do you think you’d live? What would you love about the city? Do you already know someone in that area? These things show the interviewer that you are bought into the company, the job and the area that it’s located in. I will not hire someone for a position if I think that they wouldn’t enjoy it there long term as a family. I would only be setting them up for failure if I did.

You are likely going to be asked at the end if you have any questions. Always ask questions! Make sure that they are informed, educated and curious in nature. Don’t ask the interviewer if you got the job,  instead ask about the culture of the team, what they see as opportunities for the job you are interviewing for, what kind of influence would you like the new person to bring in, etc. All of these show the person interviewing that you have a deeper understanding than most candidates. If you say that you don’t have any questions, you are telling the interviewer that either A) You aren’t as truly interested as the top candidates. or B) You aren’t aren’t seeing the bigger picture of the job.

Do these things and you’ll be ready to shine when the spotlight is on you.

Make a better tomorrow.
-ZH