How to Crush the Job Interview

Follow these tips and you're guaranteed to get that new job.

jon-warechby jon-warech

So I have a friend – we’ll call him “Josh,” because his name is Josh. “Josh” hated his job, so one day, when he reached his boiling point, he went all “Office Space” on his boss and called it quits, doing everything short of beating the fax machine with a baseball bat. When he left, his friends and family gasped in shock. How in the name of Obamanomics could he leave one job without having another one lined up first? The answer: This kid crushes interviews. And with a little hope and change, you too can score that new gig. Scroll through and see how you can improve your interview skills to land a new job.
job interview, job interview tips, got the job, you're hired
Know Your Stuff
Obviously the number-one key to a good interview is knowing what the hell you are talking about. Instead of counting on your charm and good looks carrying you all the way to that corner office in paradise, try doing some reading up on your potential new employer. “Do your research before going in,” says Justin Smith, CEO of Prestige Legal Search, Inc., a national legal search company focused on placing associates and partner-level candidates in law firms and corporations. “You can find out anything you want about a company on the Internet. Know what they do, who their biggest competition is and anything else you can about the industry itself. The more knowledgeable you sound about the company and the industry, the better chance you have of getting a job.”

Bond With the Big Guy
How ’bout them Cowboys? That’s what I like to say when conversation hits an awkward silence and I don’t know what to do with myself. You should be a little slicker than that in an interview, but at the same time, do your best to humanize yourself and bond with the person interviewing you for the gig. “With most professional interviews, you have an idea of whom you are meeting with before you meet with them, so look them up,” said Smith, who recommends LinkedIn as a good research tool. “You might find out the guy went to the same undergrad as you or worked at a place before where you know someone well, and you can use those things to your advantage to create a bond.”

Talk Like a Human Being
Everyone loves a smart dude who’s a hard worker and has the experience to dominate the new job. But, people also like to know they are dealing with a human being who will be a joy to have around the office, because, you know, they have to see you every single day. “Having the experience will be part of what gets you the job,” said Karen Lippman, a managing director at the Howard-Sloan-Koller Group, who recruits senior-level executives for media companies throughout North America. “But the other part is, will you be a cultural fit for this company. Try to allow your real personality to shine through so that the hiring manager can best determine whether you are a solid fit for the company’s culture. All companies are different. Cultural fit is so important.”

Listen Like a Golden Retriever
You know how when you dump a girl you say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” but you really mean it’s 100 percent her? Well interviews can be similar, because it really is all about them. “People inherently like to talk about themselves, so make sure to do your best to get them talking,” Smith said. “The most successful interviews are when there is a good back and forth, but the interviewer ends up talking more than the interviewee. The interviewer walks out with a better feeling about the person, but that is because the person they like the most in the world did most of the talking.”

Dress Like a Champ
While your dream job may require you to sit on the beach with your laptop while sipping a Corona, you still want to look sharp for the interview. So even if it’s an office where every day is casual Friday, suit up for the big interview. “Many people think because you work in a creative industry you should look hip, but we recommend you always wear a suit,” said Lippman. “Try to appear polished and clean in order to make a good first impression.”

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find Out What It Means to You
In larger companies you may not get to interview with the boss on the first go-round, and thus be put through multiple interviews, some of which are at the peer level. Just because the guy across the desk is your age and enjoys the same scented hair gel that you do, doesn’t mean you can get all casual on him. “If you’re getting interviewed by a peer you still want to be professional,” said Smith. “People think they can let their guard down because it’s not the boss, and they end up saying something inappropriate. That always gets back to management and it won’t work in your favor.”

Dodge Bullets
For me, the worst part of any interview is when the interviewer tries to dig deep and asks some off-the-wall question like, “Which dead person would you like to have dinner with?” Um, why would I have dinner with a dead person? Get real, buddy. But, think for a moment and do your best to be creative. “Everyone will have a different answer [to an offbeat question],” said Lippman. “The person may be looking for your creativity; they may be looking to see how you problem-solve. A very common question is where would you like to be 10 years from now, and that question is loaded. Be mindful of the psychology of the interviewing process and be prepared to act fast on your feet.”

Ditch the Stand-Up Routine
People tell you that you are like the funniest guy ever, right? A couple tequila shots and you have the whole room ROFLing like you’re Dane Cook during those six months that he was funny. That’s totally you, right? Well, save it for the Improv and don’t try to be Mr. Funny Guy in an interview. “You’re not there to do a stand-up routine,” said Lippman. “You’re not interviewing to be a clown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

Pull a David Copperfield
You should, however, come with a few tricks up your sleeve. “Like a magician, you should be able to pull your top three tricks out of your hat,” said Lippman. “Come prepared with three examples of work you have done that are relevant to this position or work you can do for this employer that shows why you deserve this job. Anticipate what the interviewer may ask you.”

It’s Not Over Till It’s Over
Just because you made it through the interview without sweating through your Armani suit, doesn’t mean the job is done. If you really want to make an impression, a follow-up message is key. “Always follow up the same day with an electronic thank you note that clearly conveys why you are the right person for the job,” said Lippman. “I still believe in handwritten notes, but everyone has email.”