How to Ace Your Job Interview in 5 Steps

Steps to prepare for a job interview

Congratulations! You just landed an interview with a company you’re really excited about. This next part can be equal parts nerve-racking and exciting. But don’t worry, I’m here to help. 

With more than 10 years of experience in recruiting, I’ve used my background to compile five easy steps you can follow to prepare successfully for your next job interview. These tips work whether you’re speaking with a recruiter or a member of the hiring team. Good luck! 

Five Steps to Ace Your Job Interview

Step 1: Research the company.

Most likely, one of the first questions you will be asked in an interview will be about your knowledge of the company. It’s important to do research on the company before your interview. Educate yourself! Go on their website, watch tutorials on their products, search for them in the news, and check out their social media pages. Displaying your knowledge during the interview shows your initiative, buy in, and genuine interest in the company. 

Tip: Prepare. You do not want your first answer to be an apology for not knowing what the company does.

Step 2: Show up to impress.

These days, a lot of interviews are being conducted virtually instead of in-person, but it’s still important to be mindful of your appearance even if you’re behind the computer screen. Hiring managers are not only evaluating your skills, but also your personal presentation, which includes your body language, interview attire, and even what’s in your background (especially for roles where you will be on camera and interfacing with customers). 

Tip: If you’re unable to have an uncluttered space available for the interview, download a free, professional, virtual background in advance of your meeting. And if you’re invited for an in-person interview, remember it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. 

Step 3: Give detailed answers.

This may be easier said than done. My first advice is to say “I” instead of “we” when answering a question. Focus on YOUR responsibilities, actions, and accomplishments. Try not to undervalue your contributions.

My second piece of advice is to use the STAR method when answering questions. STAR is an acronym that stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. This method is particularly useful when answering behavioral and situational questions. By using the STAR method, you paint a picture of the situation (S), explain your responsibilities or tasks (T), describe the steps and action you took and any learnings you had (A), and provide the results (R).

Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask, “Did that answer your question?” when responding to an open-ended question. The hiring manager may ask you to elaborate further, which will help ensure you answered the question sufficiently.

Step 4: Ask questions.

You can expect the interviewer to ask if you have any questions at the end of the interview. This is a great opportunity to further educate yourself on the company, role, and culture. It’s also a great way to ensure the process is a two-way street. You should be interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. Asking well thought out questions also shows that you put preparation and thought into the interview. 

Tip: Have a few questions practiced and prepared in advance. Even better: Make a list and have it with you during the interview so you don’t forget them. Here’s a helpful list of questions to get you started. 

Step 5: Confirm interest.

Don’t feel you need to have a poker face during the interview. If the role truly interests you, then let the interviewer know through your words and body language! Interviewers gravitate toward applicants who show enthusiasm and excitement for what they do. There is a reason why you became an accountant, or an engineer, or a salesperson—it is because you have a passion for your work. By exhibiting this passion, you give the hiring manager what us recruiters call the “warm and fuzzies.”

Tip: Don’t forget to sell yourself and why they should choose you over the rest of the candidates. Prepare and practice a quick elevator pitch explaining why you think you are a perfect match for the role. 

Putting it all together for the job interview

In my 10+ years in recruiting, I have interviewed thousands of applicants for all types of job opportunities across multiple industries. I truly believe that by following these five steps, you can greatly increase your chances of moving on to the next round of interviews, or better yet, receiving a job offer at your dream company. 

Happy job hunting! 

For more career advice, check out how to get a job in tech without a tech degree and tips for polishing your resume