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Career and Interview Tips

6 Tips For Acing Any Job Interview

“When a hot dog expands, in which direction does it split and why?" “Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?" “If you're the CEO, what are the first three things you check about the business when you wake up?"

In most job interviews, you're not going to have to worry about oddball questions like the ones above (which came from Space Exploration Technologies, Whole Foods Market, and Dropbox). Even so, interviewing for a new job can range from stressful to terrifying — and what's worse, a bad case of nerves can keep you from making a good impression when it matters most.

Don't panic, though! Acing an interview isn't actually all that complicated. It's all about the preparation: knowing what to expect, how best to convey yourself, and how to handle those tricky questions you may be asked (“biggest weakness," anyone?).

I sat down with two members of PowerToFly's Talent Management team to discuss tips and tricks for interviewees: Rachel Valdez, Head of Global Talent Management, and Deveshe Dutt, Director of Talent Management. Below are some of the key pieces of advice they had to offer:

1. Practice telling your story.

Chances are, you're going to be asked to tell the interviewer a bit about yourself. And if you haven't practiced, it'll be oh-so-tempting to rattle off the basics: I was born here, I went to school there, I worked over there, the end.

Instead, Rachel suggests that you: “Practice telling your story as it relates to the position you're interviewing for. What can you pull out of your bio, your history, your volunteer experience, your passions, that's really going to stand out for that position?"

2. Dress the part, even online.

So you've landed a video interview. Congrats, you don't have to wear pants! JUST KIDDING (of course). As you may have guessed, it doesn't matter whether your interview is online or in person — either way, it's crucial to dress according to the particular company's work culture.

Taking it a step further, “dressing the part" can be about more than what you wear. “If the interview is on the phone, have energy in your voice," Rachel says. “You always want to convey confidence and curiosity about the company."

Bonus tip: in a video call, your background matters. Deveshe warns, “You don't want some weird painting in the back or your roommate walking around in pajamas."

3. Convey your passion.

Of course hiring managers are interested in your experience and qualifications, but they also want to see how you conduct yourself in the interview. “At the end of the day," Deveshe explains, “They're looking for drive. You need to get yourself excited about the job, you need to think about why you fit, and you need to get your power pose on." In other words, being confident and approaching the interview with the right attitude can make a huge difference in your performance.

4. Never burn a bridge.

Discussing previous jobs can be tricky. Our job placement experts warn interviewees to be careful about venturing too far into negative territory. Rachel has a great analogy for this: “If you go on a date with someone, and you're always talking about the ex in this really annoying way, you're not going to make it to the next date." Your job interview is a lot like that date.

On top of that, word spreads fast. Don't bother talking trash about a previous employer because you never know if they'll end up hearing about it. Yes, maybe you had a horrible past experience, but do your best to keep the conversation positive. This is not an appropriate time to gossip.

5. Don't call yourself a workaholic.

What's your biggest weakness? Rachel suggests steering clear of relying on the “I work too much" cliché. Not only does that overused answer suggest that you don't really know your own weaknesses (which in turn means you're not working to fix them), but research actually shows that working more hours doesn't make you more productive.

Pick your answer to this inevitable question ahead of time, but be prepared to offer a positive spin. Maybe you have a lot of trouble facilitating meetings, or you wish you knew a specific skill — what are you actively doing to improve in that area?

6. Follow up.

“It's really important that you follow up right after the interview," Rachel stresses. “Acknowledge people's time, and take this opportunity to highlight anything you forgot to mention in the interview. Use this as another chance to show your passion and interest."

You should plan to send this follow-up the same day you have your interview — which means thinking ahead and getting the emails of everyone you interview with. If you've been given a follow-up assignment, Deveshe notes that this is also the perfect time to ask any clarifying questions and set expectations for when you'll have that finished.

Of course there's no way to prep for every interview question out there, but these six tips should get you well on your way to a successful meeting. If you're applying for remote positions in particular, be sure to check out “Real Hiring Managers Reveal How To Get A Remote Job" as a next read.

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