How to ace an interview and land your dream job
Hi guys, a few months ago when I was first laid off, I managed to snag a whole bunch of interviews/job offers so so quickly and everyone asked me how I did it!
The thing is, there’s only one tiny thing you need to do once you have your resume down pat;
Ace the interview.
Ok, maybe it isn’t tiny, and it’s actually so so huge, but it’s so essential to landing that job offer!
Here are the fool proof steps I take to ace my job interviews, and what I’ve looked for when I was the interviewer:
First, understand this:
1) They’ve already read through your resume, and they already know you’re qualified for the job because they’ve decided to call you. An interview is them solidifying your personality to see if you are a good fit for the company.
2) You are also interviewing them. You get to use the chance with meeting with the company to decide if they are the right fit for you. (There have been many times where I’d have to turn down a job because I didn’t think I would be a good fit.)
I once received an amazing offer with a company – but they had the kicker that I could not take 2-week inclusive vacations, rather the longest would be one week and the other days spread out throughout the year. I’m someone who likes to travel and occasionally go overseas. I could immediately see this was not a good fit for me, as I KNEW that I would be unhappy with those circumstances.
3) First impressions matter. Whether the company requires 2+ more interviews, or just the one – treat your first interview as the only one you’re going to have with them, this is you’re only chance to impress them.
Research, research, research!
And then research some more. You probably did some research when putting together your cover letter for your application, but when you were doing that, you were able to take your time to ask people about the company, you could reference their website too! During an inteview it’s not so easy. You’ll need to quick fire your knowledge and answers.
Most of the time, the interviewer will start of by “telling you a bit about the company” which is great – pay attention when this happens! Do you know what they’re talking about? Did you know they had a company dog? Do you know the name of the CEO? No? Let’s save some embarassment and get researching.
A few things I like to make sure I know:
- History of the company
- Name(s) of my potential boss’
- Who the competition is
- What exactly the company does and why
- The company mission statement
With these and more in tow, you’ll have an easier understanding of what they will be looking for, what types of questions they may ask, and will be able to answer the dreaded question: “Do you have any questions for me?” at the end of the interview.
Practice makes perfect
If you’ve done a lot of interviews like I have, you’ll notice a handful of questions that are always the same! This is wonderful because it makes it easy for you to prepare. Grab a friend and start to practice. Here’s a list of the most common interview questions I’ve come across or asked, and how I would suggest you prepare for them:
What is your greatest weakness?
You can almost always assume to be asked this question. It’s kind of a trick question because you’re not about to list all your bad traits, like how you like to sleep in or crumble under pressure. Nope! But you’re going to find something you may think is a weakness but can turn it into a positive. Some like to say how they work better alone, or in teams. Some like to say that they’re impatient, obsessive, not great at time management, etc. These can all be seen as weaknesses, but can definitely take a positive turn.
“My time management is terrible. I’m always missing deadlines and I think it’s because I get distracted easily.”
“I find that I’m not great at time management, only because I like to take my time with my projects and ensure I complete them properly. I’ve started to research ways to increase my time management skills.”
Which one sounds better? Yep, the second one! It IS a weakness and we need to address that, and how you’ll improve on it.
What is your greatest strength?
This is such a jackpot question because you get the chance to show yourself off. Do not be humble in this moment, but don’t over exaggerate either. Pick something you’re great at, explain why, and give a concrete example.
“I have an extremely strong work ethic. I work hard to meet deadlines with quality work, and I do like to complete my tasks ahead of schedule. At my last position, I had quite a heavy workload of billing with tight deadlines of submission; I was able to work hard and efficient to meet these and often submitted ahead of the deadline.”
Give me an example of a time you had a disagreement with your supervisor and how did you overcome it.
This will seem like it kind of sucks. I mean, who wants to tell their potential employer why you and someone argued? With this question I like to keep it light and to something very minor.
“My last supervisor believed that the billing amount for a certain item should have been higher. I knew I chose the right amount. My supervisor was upset with me and thought they were right. I calmly compiled my reasoning for my actions and provided this to my supervisor in the most respectful way possible.”
aka: I didn’t slam the books on the desk.
How would your past coworkers describe you?
Another time for you to shine. Be honest, what positive things would your best mate at work say about you? How did you interact with them? Would they say you’re fun? Hard working? Always on time? This one depends a lot on how you work with your coworkers and how they see you. This also hows the interviewer how you well you worked with others.
What can we expect from you in the first 3 months?
This is where you want to explain how you learn quickly, adapt to change easily, and have goals. Since you’ve done all the research about the company, throw in some examples that are specific to them.
“In the first 3 months of my employment, you’ll see me reaching out to my colleagues, supervisors, and everyone alike to get a good grasp on the workplace culture, and what roles they play in the company. I will immerse myself in learning the ins and outs of the company, as well as all of my duties, and duties of my colleagues. I will do extra studying on dentistry and dental hygienists. This will ensure a good base for my career with your company.”
Why are you leaving your current position?
This is seen as another “negative” question that you’ll have to turn into a positive. Do not tell them that you hate your boss, or the work was too hard, or you got fired for sleeping on the job. No employer wants to hear this. Instead, focus on the future.
“I’m leaving my current position because I believe this opportunity you are providing me will escalate my career and may be a better fit.”
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Be honest. Where do you want to be in 5 years? Married? Kids? Back to school? Employers aren’t looking for “forever” employees any more, it’s not the norm, and it’s great to have goals.
Describe your dream job.
This ties in with the above question. Be honest, show that you’re human and have amazing goals you strive for. Do you want to own your own business? Do you want to move up within the company? Do you want to travel and teach English overseas? Let them know – it gives them insight on your personality and what you really want.
What are your salary expectations?
Money talk is always so difficult and seems like a ‘no no’. Especially during first interviews, unless it was posted on their advertisement, I don’t recommend telling them an exact number, but give them a ballpark. Most employers are negotiable. So say the average pay for this position is $65k, ballpark it for them between 60-75k let them know a bit higher, but not too much.
Another good approach that I’ve used often was “I believe your company will be able to fairly compensate me with my skillset and qualifications.”
This puts the ball in their court knowing that you’re open to numbers and are negotiable.
Do you have any questions for me?
The dreaded last quesiton of all interviews. You know the interview has come to an end, and this is your time to shine and leave a lasting impression. Favorable questions are normally towards the interviewer;
“What is your favorite part about working here?”
“What is the company doing with _____ in the future?”
Just don’t make these overly personal.
We would all love to live in a world where appearances don’t matter and it’s only our personalities that need to shine.
Unfortunately, we are not in that world, and first impressions of your appearance will matter, and will set the tone for the rest of the interview.
I’m not saying to show up in a ball gown or tux, but to be clean, well kept, and professional. There was a time I was hiring for a new assistant and you wouldn’t know how many came in sweats, or dirty sneakers. It’s a turn off for sure, and leaves the impression that you’re not taking this opportunity seriously.
So brush your hair, wash your face, put some business casual clothing on (or more ‘dressed’ depening on the occupation).
Last but not least!
ALWAYS. Begin and end with a firm handshake and always mention their name. It shows professionalism. “Hi Sarah nice to meet you.” “Thank you very much Sarah, it was great to meet you.”
“Hi Sarah nice to meet you.” “Thank you for your time, Sarah. It was great to meet you.”
And, that’s about it! It’s to just be prepared, have your examples ready, and be confident. You got this!
Need extra help?
If you are experiencing some difficulty and would like to work me with as your coach – send me a message and we can go over some details!