Five Tips for Acing a Job Interview


In today’s labor market, landing an interview is no small feat. Competition is tough for open job positions, making the interview process more crucial than ever. Whether you are interviewing for a job or being vetted for a promotion, there are five things you should keep in mind:

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare:  Start your prep by researching the position, company history and culture of the organization. Read the company’s website, find press releases, browse industry chat rooms/LinkedIn groups and read what trade/professional associations have to say about the employer.  Having a solid foundation of knowledge about the target company will instill confidence and help calm nerves, and it shows the interviewer that you have a genuine interest in the role and are eager to learn more. 

Read: Job-Hunting Tips for Veterans

Speak their Language: Every business, trade and industry has their own “language” full of specific terms and lingo. Go into the interview with a strong command of the slang, jargon and acronyms frequently used by the company and industry you are pursuing. This is particularly important for candidates transitioning into a new industry--it will help show the interviewer that you can make the shift even though your experience may not be a direct match.

Show Differentiation: Keep in mind you are likely not the only qualified candidate interviewing for the job and you have to be deliberate about separating yourself from the pack.

Legendary marketing guru Rosser Reeves coined the phrase Unique Selling Proposition or USP. Only you know your USP so take the time to identify what you bring to the table that is over and above the standard candidate and know how to convey these skills concisely and purposefully. The idea is to demonstrate your particular traits and skills that will add unique value to the mission of the organization.

Read: How to create a personal brand 

Know Your Talking Points: Always be ready with a core set of talking points that can be tailored to answer almost any question. It’s your interview and the best way to control it is to have a clear message that can be delivered in a multitude of ways. Prepare three to five talking points that illustrate past successes and demonstrate how you approach getting things done. A good way to test your talking points is to ask yourself three questions: Do they establish credibility, demonstrate value and show differentiation?

Feel their Pain: Every boss is looking for someone to make his or her life easier. Throughout the interview pay attention to any hints about challenges or pain points the hiring manager may be facing. Also, don’t be afraid to ask what is ailing them most. This can be a great opportunity to open the door for deeper discussions about what you bring to the table. Bottom line, your job is to identify pain points  and show how hiring you can make them go away!

Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership.Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook