Ace the Job Interview Want to establish solid trust and rapport during a job interview. Prospective employers will first weed through a lot of resumes. Then comes the hard part. Because next, they want to see if the candidate is a good fit within their team. The job interview is the main way they determine this. In this session, I’m going to show you ways to relax and take charge of the interview. In fact, I’ll also show you how to take the pressure off of the interviewer. When you make the interviewer’s job easier, you build even more trust and rapport.

We are going to tackle this subject in three parts.

  1. How to Reduce Nervousness During a Job Interview.
  2. Research Your Prospective Company and the Job Interviewer to Anticipate Questions.
  3. A Step-by-Step Process to Help You Answer Job Interview Questions When Under Pressure.

Let cover each of the sections one at a time.

How to Reduce Nervousness During a Job Interview.

How to Reduce Nervousness During a Job Interview Remember that a job interview is just a conversation. In most cases, the interviewer isn’t trying to trip you up. This person does, however, want to uncover any items that may make you a bad fit for his or her team. So, obviously, you want to be yourself. If you pretend to be the person that you think the interviewer wants you to be, you will be seen as ingenuine. In fact, you will likely experience challenges throughout the interviewer.

Here are a few tips that will help you relax and be more genuine. Not all of them will work in every single interview. However, if you use them consistently, you should reduce nervousness as you do more interviews.

By the way, for tips on how to create a resume before the interview, see How to Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile.

You Will Feel Very Nervous. This Is Normal. However, the Nervousness Is Not Really Obvious.

Most of the nervousness that we experience in a job interview is totally real. However, unless it is really extreme, the interviewer likely won’t see it. For instance, your heart may start racing. Unless you actually have a heart attack, there is no way the job interviewer will know. You may get sweaty palms or butterflies in your stomach. Again, unless you do something to call attention to it, you will feel these things but others won’t see them.

Some of the stuff that is seen can be an advantage. For instance, often we talk faster when we are nervous. This can be perceived as enthusiasm and eagerness. So use it to your advantage.

Don’t Write Answers Ahead of Time.

You do want to anticipate what questions will be asked. In addition, you do want to practice answering the questions once or twice. (More on that later.) However, don’t prewrite the answers to questions. If you are interviewing virtually, the tendency will be to open the answers up on your desktop somewhere and read the answers. This is death in a job interview. You will fall out of rapport with the interviewer very quickly.

Avoid Trying to Memorize Responses or Speeches.

Another big mistake is to try to memorize pat answers to questions. If you pull it off, you may score a few points in the interviewer. However, this increases the complexity of the interview exponentially. If you were already nervous, your nervousness will increase if you forget something.

Show Up to the Interview Early.

Remember that in many cases, the first interview is also your first impression. Interviewers believe that in the job interview, the applicant will be on his or her best behavior. If you show up just in the nick of time or a few minutes late for the interview, it creates an impression. They are now more likely to believe that you will be less prompt and timely after being hired.

There is also an advantage to you as well. If you are rushing around at the last minute, you will appear disheveled. Since a lot of interviews now are virtual, you should anticipate a technical glitch. If you are on the call early, you can test your audio and video. However, if you show up at the last minute and experience a glitch, the pressure goes up very quickly.

Before You Walk into the Room (Or Turn on Your Camera,) Take a Single Deep Breath.

A lot of those symptoms of nervousness tend to happen from an increased heart rate. Just close your eyes. Then take a very deep breath from your diaphragm. This will not eliminate your nervousness. However, it will reduce the nervous symptoms a little. What we find is that we get the most nervous right before we say anything. The unknown causes the big fear. So, if you reduce the nervousness from the start, you tend to start the interview more confidently.

You make a better first impression.

Smile and Be Happy.

No matter what you are feeling, show happiness to the interviewer. Many of us have a fairly stern neutral look. Meaning, when we are showing no emotion, others may perceive us as being angry or annoyed. A simple smile when you first meet the job interviewer goes a long way.

By the way, this is way easier to do if you are excited about working for the company. Let that energy show.

Remember, You Are the Expert in the Job Interview.

In high school and college, teachers often make students give book reports or project reports. When we speak about things we know very little about, we will often be very nervous. Reading Of Mice and Men once does not make us an expert. So people often grow up thinking they are not fantastic speakers because of the types of presentations we have been required to deliver.

In a job interview, you are the topic. So guess what? You are also the ONLY expert on that topic. As the expert, you can’t be challenged on anything that you say. (That is, if you use the technique I will show you later!)

Show Enthusiasm and Energy.

I saved this one for last, but it is the absolute most important tip. The more energy and enthusiasm that you show, the more likely you will be to get the job. If you speak a little faster, talk just a little louder, and make confident gestures on occasion, you will show energy. Enthusiasm is the one characteristic that every employer wants in a new team member.

So now that you have a series of tips to help you perform better, the next step is to practice just a little. When you practice, give your partner some research about your interviewer. Ask your partner to try to put himself or herself in the shoes of the interviewer.

Research Your Prospective Company and the Job Interviewer to Anticipate Questions.

The interviewer will often use the resume to weed out unqualified candidates. So if you make it to the interview process, the interviewer often believes that you are qualified. He or she will use the interview to see if you can work with the team well.

They want to know if your values are in line with the corporate values. If you do just a little bit of research, you can make sure that this is true for you. Do a Google search for the company and the person who will be interviewing you. Specifically, pay close attention to postings on social media. Below is a list of good places to start when doing your research.

  • Do a Google search for the company name.
  • After the cursory search on Google, hit the “News” button below the search bar to find current news stories.
  • Next, search for the company + “corporate values.”
  • Do a Google search for the interviewer.
  • If the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile doesn’t pop up, search for the person on LinkedIn.
  • *** Most importantly, copy the interviewer’s title into Google and do a search.

Each of these searches will give you clues as to what the company and interviewer value. The last search, though, will help you better uncover problems the interviewer might be experiencing.

For details about how to introduce yourself before an interview, make sure to review How to Introduce Yourself.

A Step-by-Step Process to Help You Answer Job Interview Questions When Under Pressure.

The best way to answer a job interview question is to answer quickly, then give an example from your experience. Remember, you are the expert on yourself. In addition, the interviewer wants to see if you have the experience to help his or her team solve problems. So, each of your interview answers shows how you have solved problems in the past, you will show that you are qualified.

In this section, I cover a simple three-step process to help you answer interview questions professionally. However, before we get to the process, let’s cover a very important concept. If you get asked a question where you aren’t exactly sure of the purpose, pause and ask a clarifying question. You especially want to do this if the answer is somewhat polarizing.

Ask a Clarifying Question.

I’ll give you an example. The last position that I hired for was a website manager. One of the questions I asked was, “How do you feel about website ‘builder’ programs like Divi Builder or Elementor?”

I had very specific reason for asking the question. The last website manager I hired overused these builder programs. The programs inserted a bunch of irrelevant code to my websites and slowed them down.

Let’s say that the interviewee responds with, “They are fantastic. These programs can easily add a lot of flashy content to a website.” Without knowing why I asked the question, the candidate has immediately excluded himself from consideration. It doesn’t matter how he answers the remaining questions that I had.

However, if he started with, “The answer is that it really depends on how the builders are used. But do you mind if I ask something? Has something happened in the past here that makes the builder programs more or less important?”

Then, after I tell him my horror story about my past experience, a better follow-up would be.

“We had a similar challenge a couple of years ago. We were using the Divi Builder. Because it did so many cool things, we kept adding more and more code. Within a few months, we noticed that the organic search traffic had dropped. After a ton of analysis, we realized, as you did, the problem was the reduced page speed. We basically had to go in and add a lot of the repetitive content to the website CSS code. It took a lot of time but increased the website speed dramatically. Having made that mistake in the past, your website will be in good hands with me. I wouldn’t want to make that same mistake again.”

The Three-Step Process to Effectively Answer Job Interview Questions.

  1. Start with an Example from Your Experience.
  2. Stories about your experience do a couple of important things. First, your nervousness will decrease dramatically. As you recall the incident, a movie plays in your head. All you have to do is explain to the job interviewer what is happening in the movie. One of the coolest things that this does is that the interviewer can’t question the validity of your story. It is your experience.

    The second thing that happens is that you get a chance to share your experience (your expertise) without bragging. The interviewer absolutely wants to hear about your expertise. However, the expertise that she is most concerned with is the expertise that solves her problems. Examples about how you solved similar problems in the past help you explain that.

    So, once you understand the question well, pause for a second. Think, “When did I last fix a problem like this at my current job?” Alternatively, if you quickly know the answer to the question asked, think, “When did I discover this secret?” The answer to those self-questions will spawn a memory.

  3. End the Story by Suggesting that They Should Hire You.
  4. Spend anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes giving details of the story. Then, transition to suggesting that the interviewer hire you. Phrases like, “So if you hire me…” or “If you trust me to lead this…” will help.

    According to sales trainers, the main reason why a person doesn’t buy is that no one ever asked them to. Don’t make this mistake in your interview. Let the interviewer know that you want to be hired.

  5. Finish by Telling the Interviewer How She or the Company Will Benefit from the Hire.
  6. The final step is to finish with how if you are hired, that particular problem will be solved. Don’t overcomplicate this process. Simple is better than complicated.

    “If you hire me, your website will look phenomenal but the code will stay clean and fast.”

    Just reinforce the solution you bring to the table.

Here Are a Few Sample Job Interview Questions to Practice Before Your Interview.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • So why do you want this job?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What do you know about the requirements for this job?
  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • What do you think are your greatest strengths?
  • What are your biggest weaknesses?
  • Tell me about a challenge or conflict that you faced at work and how you overcame it?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • What type of work environment do you prefer?

Practice having a partner ask you a few of these. Make sure to use the clarifying question (Why do you ask?) when appropriate.

Here Is a Sample Answer Using the Technique We Talked About.

Question: Why do you want to work for our company?

Sample Answer: A few days before I sent you my resume, I did a Google search for [Your Company] and the words “corporate values.” The first thing that came up was the company’s five core values. At the top of the list was safety. Obviously, we know that what we do is inherently dangerous, so the fact that safety is at the top was important to me. The second one though was what really made me want to work here — mutual respect. Everyone that I have interacted with from this company, including yourself, shows that with each interaction. That is the kind of team that I want to be a part of.

If you notice, the “story” I used in the example was just the time I looked at the company’s website.

For details about characteristics of a great presenter (interviewer,) see 7 Qualities of a Great Speaker.

Do you have any questions for me?

Often, the interviewer will conclude by asking if you have any questions. For some reason, this typically stumps the interviewee. On the spot, they will sometimes just throw a strange question out and regret the question later.

Remember that in a job interview, you are also interviewing the job interviewer as well. Ultimately, if you are offered the job, it is up to you as to whether you want to accept it. Here are a few questions that you can ask to see if the company is a good fit for you.

  • (A good question to ask just as the interview begins.) Before we get started, do you mind if I ask you a quick question? (Asking permission lowers the guard of the interviewer.) I’ve read the job description over and over, and I think I have a good idea of what you are looking for. But could you perhaps tell me in your own words what you are really looking for in this position?
  • (As the job interview progresses, you might ask this.) What are some of the challenges that you have had with previous people in this position or with the position itself?
  • This looks like a really [use appropriate adjective] place to work. What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • What would you say is the biggest advantage that this company has over our (use our, not your) competitors?
  • Are there certain characteristics that you are not looking for in the position? When I get the job, is there anything I’d need to keep an eye out for?

Questions like these show interest and help you make a good decision as well.