You’ve honed your CV, written a stellar cover letter and managed to bag yourself an interview for that dream job; now all you need to do is convince the person the other side of the table to hire you. Whether you’re a naturally gifted speaker or not; an interview can turn even the most confident of candidates to jelly, especially if your assessor is particularly intimidating.
As Google’s Head of People Operations, Laszlo Bock has seen some of the 1,500,000 unique applications they receive for jobs every year, making him the perfect person to get interview advice from. He’s even written a book about it – Work Rules! – which gives readers an insight into one of the smartest organisations on the planet, plus is packed with practical tips on how to succeed, regardless of the industry you work in. Read on for his six key pieces of advice and nail that interview...
1. Predict the future
You can anticipate 90% of the interview questions you’re going to get. Three of them are “Tell me about yourself.” “What is your greatest weakness?” “What is your greatest strength?” but it’s an easy list to generate. “Why do you want this job?” “What’s a tough problem you’ve solved?” If you can’t think of any, Google “most common interview questions.” Write down the top 20 questions you think you’ll get.
2. Plan your attack.
For EVERY question, write down your answer. Yes, it’s a pain to actually write something. It’s hard and frustrating. But it makes it stick in your brain. That’s important. You want your answers to be automatic. You don’t want to have to think about your answers during an interview. Why not? Keep reading.
3. Have a backup plan.
Actually, for every question, write down THREE answers. Why three? You need to have a different, equally good answer for every question because the first interviewer might not like your story. You want the next interviewer to hear a different story. That way they can become your advocate.
4. Prove yourself.
Every question should be answered with a story that proves you can do what you’re being asked about. “How do you lead?” should be answered with “I’m a collaborative/decisive/
5. Read the room.
All that brainpower you’re not using to desperately come up with answers to questions? Look around. Focus on the interviewer. In the first 10 seconds, is there anything in their office, or about them, you can notice and use to forge a connection? A book on a shelf? A family photo? A painting? Read the interviewer: is their body language open or closed? Are they tired and should you try to pep them up? Do they like your answer or should you veer in another direction?
6. Make it to Carnegie Hall.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Same goes for getting a job. When I was in my second year of business school, I practiced my interview answers – out loud – until I could tell each story smoothly, without thinking about it (but not so smoothly that I was bored with the re-telling). My roommate walked in one day to find me sitting on the futon reciting why I thought I was a great leader again and again. He figured I was stuck in some kind of Stuart Smalley-like self-help loop. But I got 7 job offers from 5 companies (that’s another story) and was on track to get another 6 before I stopped interviewing. How is that possible? Practice.