How To Knock An Interview Out Of The Park And The Skills I Used To Land My New Job

How To Knock An Interview Out Of The Park And The Skills I Used To Land My New Job Tutorial By Justin Woodie

Landing a job, whether it's a temporary gig, a stepping stone to where you're going or a dream career is difficult. It takes effort, a lot of it and unless you know someone on the inside your chances of even getting an interview are slim. But when you do get one you want to be prepared. Mastering the art of interviewing takes practice. You can do all the preparation you want but without real world experience of actually getting interviewed you'll never get better at them. Each interview you do will give you something to take away, knowledge that will make you better prepared for the next one. Over the years done my fair share of interviews and while I'm no master at it, I've gotten pretty good. Becoming good at them is a learned skill and not an impossible one. While there will always be those that are naturally better at interviewing, anyone can learn if the effort is put forth. Below I've compiled a walkthrough of the tactics I use during interviews, all of which I applied recently to land my new !

This article is written in assumption that you have landed an interview and need some pointers preparing for it, not on how to prepare a resume to get an interview.


Being prepared is the first step towards a successful interview. Would you hike across the desert without any water? No, of course not. Most employers give you ample time to get ready for an interview, a week has been the norm for me personally, which is plenty of time to prepare. If you're given less time, you just have to ramp up your preparation and move quickly, but not so quick to where you make mistakes. With that said, I must warn you this is a long article and if you're ready let's begin!

1. Resume And Essential Items

Your resume was obviously good enough to get you a call back to come in for an interview, well done! Keeping it up to date with current information and free of spelling/grammatical errors is a must. Ideally I recommend bringing three copies of your resume to any interview. Often times employers will have you meet with multiple people, all of which may or may not ask to see your resume. Sometimes they'll even ask you to bring a specific number of copies in. Just remember to always have a few on your person. You should also, always bring your own pen and notepad. Chances are you'll be filling out paperwork and may need to jot down information told to you during the interview. Remember that you're interviewing the company as much as they're interviewing you and writing down specifics may be a factor in whether or not you accept the position. To wrap it up, you should compile your resume, notepad, notes and essential information into a portfolio. It not only looks professional, but it keeps your items organized and ready when you need them. It's always better to be prepared, employers like that and it shows effort on your part!

2. Look Professional

The better your appearance, the better your chances. You want to dress to impress. Make sure you come completely groomed in professional attire. When I go to interviews I wear a clean and pressed black suit, with a white shirt and black tie. For the majority of interviews this simple color choice is ideal, it lets the interviewer focus on you and not your clothing. Let's look at an example and pretend "Bob" and "Jim" are applying for the same job and both land interviews. Let's also assume both are equally qualified for the position and both interview equally as well. However, Bob showed up to the interview in a polo shirt and khaki's and Jim showed up in a full suit and tie. While both looks are professional the employer will notice that Jim went the extra mile and wore a suit. With all that said, chances are the employer will also pick Jim for the job because his clothing choice separated him from Bob.

3. Research

Knowing specific information about the job and company you're trying to work for is very important. If you were an employer who ran a company that sold watches, wouldn't you be far more interested in a future employee that not only had an interest in watches but researched your specific brand? Someone who came to the interview with information ready to be shared? The answer is yes. Now I'm not saying to memorize every detail about a company or write a book about the job prior to the interview, just gain knowledge. Any knowledge, small or vast will impress the employer, trust me.

I'll attest from personal experience and give you an example of what I did to land my new gig as a Web Content Specialist. Once I found out I had an interview and the company it was for I immediately went into research mode. First, I found out the CMS (content management system) they use and watched a 30 minute video on how it works. It's a CMS I have never used before and one that I'm eager to learn more about. Second, I found out the websites I'm going to help manage and spent nearly 2 hours surfing the content, testing the user interface, taking in the design layout and writing down notes. The notes were very important, I took 3 pages of hand written notes and printed screen shots of the websites which I used during the interview as a great resource. A resource that highly impressed the employer and showed my interest in the job! It was a lot of work that paid off!

I do research everyday, especially before I buy a product. For example, I needed a new keyboard, so I surfed the web and found one I liked. I read reviews and information from multiple sources before going to buy it and after using it for a few days I wrote my own review on the product found here:

4. Questions

Questions are always a must, even if you ask just one, it shows effort on you part. After doing research on the company there shouldn't be any reason you can't think of a couple questions. Some generic questions are What type of health benefits do you offer? and What type of retirement plan do you offer? With that said, as good as both of those questions are, you should also ask specific questions directly related to the job and/or company.

Key Factors:

1. Rest And Food

Without sleep it's hard to accomplish anything. Be sure to get plenty of rest the day before you're interview. We've all also heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it is. It gives us the energy to start our day and helps us focus on the upcoming tasks. Obviously if you have an afternoon interview, make sure to eat lunch. Personally if I'm hungry or thirsty I can barely focus on anything, but once I satisfy my cravings I'm ready to go! The last thing you want to do is either pass out or lose focus at a job interview because you didn't eat or drink. In conclusion eat a good breakfast, drink fluids (water is great) and make sure to use the restroom prior to your interview.

2. Be Early

Being on time is important and being early is key. Showing up for an interview at minimum 10 to 15 minutes early shows the employer that your punctual and a way for them to assume that you'll show up to work on time if given the job. Just like in the above example with Bob and Jim's attire, lets assume that instead of their clothing being a factor that time was. If Bob showed up 15 minutes early for the interview and Jim showed up exactly on time and they both interviewed equally well, the fact that Bob showed up 15 minutes early would likely result in him landing the job over Jim.

3. Wait Patiently

If you're early (which you should be) you'll have to be prepared to wait to meet with your interviewer. Often times a receptionist will have you wait in a sitting area and may even point out the restroom or offer you a beverage. After partaking in either the most important thing you can do is wait patiently. I cannot stress this enough. Don't look panicked and don't draw unnecessary attention to yourself by jamming to music or playing Angry Birds on your iPhone because their watching. Instead review your notes and look confident so they don't have a reason to write you off before actually doing the interview. You should also be respectful and courteous by saying "Good Morning" or "How Are You?" to current employees that may wander by you as you wait to be seen. It's a great way to get some nerves out and feel a little more comfortable.

4. Greeting

Being confident is essential, I understand it's easier for some then others, but do your best. If you're a nervous wreck you'll only make it tougher on yourself. When you first hear you name called by the prospective interviewer promptly stand up as they approach you and give them a firm hand shake (try your best not to have sweaty hands). Be polite, smile and look interested.

5. Engage

Upon the first greeting you should, as I just stated, be interested! Chances are the handshake is proceeded by an introduction and a question such as "How are you this morning?" Make sure you answer and ask the same question back. This will break the ice and ease your nerves even more. Engaging in conversation is essential at any interview, if you're acting interested the employer will know. If you're acting uninterested they'll also know. I've also found that small talk is an excellent tool when used properly. Now some employers may go straight to the point and not want to branch off on other topics, but personally the majority of interviews I've been to have been driven by small talk. You simply have to gauge the person and identify what to do depending on the circumstances given. I've also noticed that the longer and more engaging my interviews were the better shot I had at landing the job. Also remember upon wrapping things up to thank them for their time, ask for a contact email/business card and give them a firm hand shake before you leave.

6. Review

Ask yourself questions. How did I do? Did I like the company? Can I see myself working here? Were the other employees nice? These are just a few examples of the vast amount of questions you could potentially come up with after the interview. Remember that you are interviewing the company just like they are interviewing you. Just because you get offered the job, does not mean you have to take it. You should take the job because you want the job. I believe true success is passionate work. Working a job that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning and a job that represents who you are is a great feeling. These jobs aren't usually the first ones we take, but if you put forth enough effort you'll get it!

7. Thank You

To wrap up a perfect interview I recommend once you get back home and are relaxed, to send out a Thank You email to the interviewer to let them know how much you appreciate the time they took to see you. Here's an example:

Dear (Interviewers name here),

It was a pleasure meeting with you today during the interview for the (name of position). I hope I was able to address all of your questions thoroughly. I enjoyed your knowledge regarding the companies mission. The professionalism that you showed, made me feel welcomed. I am grateful for the opportunity and I want to thank you for considering me for the position. If you have any additional questions please don't hesitate to contact me.

Thank You,

(Your full name here)

Within this email you could also include any additional questions you may have and personalized statements that may refer to a discussion during the interview which would show you were engaged and listening. Also, if you met with multiple people and have to email more then one person you can use the same general thank you template, just make sure to personalize each once so there are differences.

That's a wrap! I hope this information is useful to you and please feel free to leave a comment below!

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