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The Key to a Successful Job Interview

key to a successful job interview

Here’s the Key to Nailing Your Next Job Interview

It’s this time in your life: you’re looking for a job. You’ve sent out your resume and cover letters to dozens of companies. You get invited to job interviews, but all you hear back is “thank you for applying, but you’re not a good fit for this position.”

So, you wonder why this response is haunting you. Since your applications lead to job interviews, the resume or cover letters aren’t to blame. So, something must be happening at the interview stage, right?


Consider your search for job interview tips over. Keep reading, and you’ll find a comprehensive guide that will answer all of your questions. It’s your key to acing any interview waiting for you below!


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How to Pass a Job Interview: Preparation Is the Answer

If you don’t come prepared, you’re guaranteed to make a so-so impression on the interviewer. And that’s not what you should be striving for.


Even if you know that, you might still have some gaps in your preparation process. So, look at the following checklist – and verify that you’ve done every part of it.


Important! Don’t put off preparation until the last moment. If you start preparing the night before, you’re sure to miss out on something – simply because you didn’t have enough time to do your due diligence.


Make time for the prep

Checking out the company’s website on the way to the interview isn’t good enough. You’ll need a couple of hours for the prep, at the very least.


So, carve out enough time for it in your schedule. If you’re a student, that can mean turning to services like EssayPro to reduce your academic workload in the short run, for example. In other cases, just scheduling your prep in advance is a good way to find the time for it.


Understand your potential employer

Check out the company’s website. Look for their social media accounts, too. Pay attention to:


  • Core products and/or services;
  • Core values and principles;
  • The company’s history.


Once you’re done, ask yourself: What place does this position have in it all? And how would you fit in within the team?


Prepare answers to common questions

If you don’t, you risk entering the brain-freeze mode when you hear such a basic request as “tell me about yourself.” Answers to common questions should come naturally to you, so think them through in advance to avoid an “umm…” moment.


Here are five of the most common job interview questions you should be ready to nail even in your sleep:


  • What can you tell me about yourself?
  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
  • What can you tell me about your biggest failure?
  • Why have you decided to apply for a position at our company?
  • Why are you looking for a job right now?


Have some questions of your own

You will be asked “Do you have any questions?” at the end of the interview. You don’t want to end up setting yourself up for failure by posing a question that shows you’ve done little research – or worse, by saying you have no questions at all.


Here are some of the best questions that’ll get you one step closer to job interview success:


  • How do you measure the employee’s performance for this position?
  • What are your expectations for a new hire in the first three months?
  • What challenges are you working on at the moment?
  • Why has this job opening become available?
  • What goals are you working toward right now?


Estimate your preferred salary range

You’re likely to hear a question about your salary expectations toward the end of the meeting. And when you are, you’re expected to know your value.


To that end, use tools like Indeed’s, Glassdoor’s, and PayScale’s calculators to gauge how much you can expect from this kind of job. They’ll take into account:


  • Your location and associated cost of living;
  • Your experience;
  • Your industry and field.


Keep in mind: your task isn’t to come up with an exact number. Have a range in mind, instead. It’ll keep the salary negotiations open.


Do several mock interviews

This is how you get ready to transform your well-prepared answers into actual words naturally coming out of your mouth.


Be careful who you practice with, though: they should be able to nail the role of an interviewer. Try to solicit the help of those who have plenty of experience with job interviews, on either side of them.




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What to Say in a Job Interview?

So, here you are, sitting in front of the interviewer. What should you say to them? How should you communicate your value as a prospective employee?

Here are things to say at a job interview, grouped into five categories:


Basic politeness

Phrases like “it’s nice to meet you” and “thank you for your time” go a long way to making you seem “warm” to the interviewer. And the human brain automatically prefers “warm” people, as opposed to “cold” ones. So, that’s essential for leaving them with a good impression.


Who you are

You’re 99% likely to be asked to present yourself to the interviewer. You can start your answer with something personal, like your hobby or where you come from, to establish a connection. Then, mention your professional experience and how it ties in with the position you’ve applied for.


Why you’re a good fit

In other words, how will you fill the company’s needs? Be careful not to paint the company in a bad light when you answer this question, though. Instead, highlight your positive qualities, skills, and experience – and explain how you can use them to be of use to the company.


Your key positive quality

It’s among the tips for a job interview that often get glossed over. But it’s akin to that rock soup tale: you want to put up front your most impressive quality or talent, and build from there. That way, if there’s one thing the interviewer remembers about you, it’ll be your best quality.


How you feel about your work

Employers rarely want to hire someone who goes to work just for the pay-check. That attitude means the person won’t be a productive worker. So, to avoid coming across as such, show that you do care about your everyday work.


STAR Method: Another Key to Successful Job Interviewing

Everyone has to be a little bit of a storyteller if they want to nail a job interview. Stories are easier to follow, for one. They create a certain narrative, too – along with an emotional connection.


So, this guide on how to be successful in a job interview wouldn’t be complete without a tip on how to become a better storyteller.


Important! If you’re not experienced in telling stories, the STAR method is your cheat code for responding to any question. It helps you structure your responses in a lean story, from Situation to Task to Action to Result.


Here’s how it works:


  • Situation. Set up the scene so that the interviewer has all the context they need to understand the story.
  • Task. Describe your role in the story – and the challenge you had to grapple with.
  • Action. How did you deal with that challenge?
  • Result. What consequences did your actions have? (You can also add how you felt about the outcome here.)




What Not to Say at a Job Interview?

This part is just as important as what you should say to the interviewer. One careless phrase or poorly-thought-out response – and you can destroy your chances at landing that position.


Here are four things that should be off-limits during a job interview:



No matter how bad your former employer or colleagues were, don’t trash-talk them. Keep it neutral when talking about them and focus on your achievements during your time there.



Embellishing the truth might seem a convenient and sure-proof solution to the “how to get a job from an interview” problem. But it’s not.


You may get caught red-handed if you’re inconsistent in your story. And even if that doesn’t happen, the truth will come out at some point – and it may destroy your career altogether.



Being a workaholic is such a common answer to the “your biggest weakness” question that it’s become despised by recruiters.


Don’t use clichés – otherwise, you’ll come across as inauthentic. Be sincere – and remember that nobody’s perfect.


Negative-only responses

When asked about weaknesses or failures, what the interviewer wants to hear is how you dealt with or are dealing with them. So, explain how you’ve managed (or are managing) your biggest weakness. As for failures, describe what you’ve learned from that experience.




7 General Tips for Job Interviews That’ll Help You Land a Job

What to say and not to say doesn’t come close to covering everything you should keep in mind during the interview. So, this guide just wouldn’t be complete without these seven general tips for a successful job interview:


Don’t ramble

Keep your answers concise and on-point. You can end them with, “Would you like me to tell you more about this?” This is how you show you value everyone’s time.


Show up 10-15 minutes early

If you’ve already read up on how to have a successful job interview, you must already know that showing up late is a big misstep. But coming too early can be a mistake, too. It can be interpreted as a sign you have too much free time – so, you must be desperate.


Project calm confidence

You don’t want to come across as stressed or insecure. Self-confidence makes you a more appealing candidate, all because you seem like you can handle whatever may come your way. How do you gain this confidence? Do mock interviews before the real thing!


Ooze warmth

Remember that “warm” people are automatically more likely to pass an interview for a job successfully? You’ll want to exude this warmth. So, smile, compliment others, and put others at ease. But don’t overdo it, either: that may come across as fake.


Be polite to everyone you encounter

News tends to travel fast in a workplace. Yes, the receptionist that greets you or the security guard you crossed paths with in the parking lot isn’t the decision-maker. But if you’re inconsiderate to them, that story may quickly find its way to the interviewer’s ears.


Mirror the interviewer’s communication style

If they open up to you on a personal level, you can do the same. If they keep the conversation “strictly business,” follow their lead and avoid jokes or anecdotes. It’ll take you some time to get a grasp of their communication style, yes – but once you do, match it.


Always follow up

No interview can ever be successful if you don’t reach out to the interviewer after it. What should you write in the follow-up email? It’s simple: thank them for their time and reaffirm your interest in the position.



Final Thoughts: What Makes a Successful Job Interview?

Let’s imagine you follow all of these tips for your next meeting with an interviewer. How do you know if you’ve nailed it? And how do you know if you’ve followed these tips for a successful job interview properly?


These questions can be paraphrased as, “How do I know it’s been a successful job interview?” And the answer to it lies in these four signs you should be looking out for:


  • How long it lasts. If it goes on longer than it was supposed to, it can mean that the interviewer enjoys talking with you.
  • How it feels. If the interview feels more like a regular conversation and less like a formal discussion, it means the interviewer is at ease with you.
  • How they talk about your future. Do they say “when” instead of “if”? Do they use definitive phrases like “after you start”? If so, they’ve made up their mind about your candidature.
  • How they describe the position. Are they trying to sell you on this job opening? If it feels like that, it means the interviewer wants you to accept the offer.


Important! Remember that you can ask the interviewer for feedback at the end of the meeting, too. How? Thank them for their time and say that you’d appreciate hearing their opinion on how you did and how you could become a better interviewee.

About the author

Vivian is an academic writer for EssayPro. She is also involved in website content creation and is an expert in content writing and analytics.