How To Gain an Advantage at Interviews

1) Be prepared

An interview is more important than any major presentation you’ll ever make. You need to be just as prepared. Part of this will be reading about the company, the industry, the job description, and the LinkedIn profiles of the people you’ll be meeting. But this is just a start. Knowing yourself, your resume and work history inside-out, your strengths and weaknesses, and preparing to ask and answer questions is the hard part.

2) Ask insightful questions

Three areas feature strongly in how an interviewer judges a candidate: the candidate’s first impression, the quality of the answers, and the quality of the questions. Great questions can often overcome weaknesses in the other areas. The best questions focus on the impact and challenges of the role, and the relationship of the job to the business.

3) Don’t using generalities such as “I’m a problem-solver” or “I’m a real team player

Generalities about strengths are ignored, forgotten, or not heard. When interviewers evaluate a candidate they recall the examples and stories the candidate used to prove a point. From these examples they conclude to what degree the candidate possesses the strength or attribute.

4) Convert the interview into a past performance review

If the interviewer seems to be box-checking skills and experiences, ask about the major performance expectations for the job. This will then allow you to give competency based examples to show how your experience to date validate is comparable to what needs to be done.

5) Prove strengths and neutralize weaknesses

Write down all of your strengths and weaknesses. For each strength come up with 1 or 2 actual accomplishments you can use as examples to prove the strength. To neutralize a weakness, describe how you converted it into a learning experience, or how you manage to deal with it.

6) Never say “I don’t have any weaknesses”

Everybody has weaknesses. The point of the question isn’t even about weaknesses; it’s an attempt to determine your character, honesty, and self-awareness. On the surface, saying you don’t have any weaknesses implies you’ve stopped growing, can’t learn anything new and can’t be coached. Openly stating a weakness, and describing how you’ve learned from it, indicates a willingness to get better.

7) Don’t ask “what’s in it for me” questions in early stages

At the beginning of the interview, assume you’re the seller, even if you are a candidate whose unique combination of skill-sets and experience is in extremely short supply. Asking self-serving questions like “what does the job pay?” or questions about benefits and related superficialities, are not advisable at the beginning of the process. It is of course 100% desirable to ask about these things once you have become a serious candidate for the job.

8) Ask about next steps

Towards the end of the interview, ask where you stand, and find out the next steps. If the interviewer is vague or non-committal, you’re probably not going to be called back. In this case, ask if there is something missing in your background or skill set that the job requires. Once you know this, you might be able to minimize the concern by describing some comparable accomplishment that was previously not considered.

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