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You Landed An Interview. Now Here’s How to Nail It.
You put together an engaging cover letter and stellar résumé, you networked and now you’ve got an interview. So how do you prepare to make the best impression? Bentley University Director of Undergraduate Career Education & Outcomes Alyssa Hammond shares her top tips in a recent discussion on Facebook Live.
Be ready to answer the dreaded question: “Tell me about yourself.”
This is the question you should absolutely expect, so be prepared to give a concise “elevator pitch” that tells your story and gives the interviewer a good sense of who you are. Don’t just jump in to where you are today. Include where you are coming from, where you are now, and where you want to go. Start from the beginning: what you studied; your first job, second job; why you moved and pivoted; why you are interviewing today for this position with this company. Although some of the information may seem basic, talking about where you are from and where you went to school provides better opportunities to connect with the interviewer. (Cover a lot of information but keep it concise, limited to a few minutes.)
Research the interviewer and the company.
Even if it is not officially asked, you need to answer the question: Why do you want to work for us? Make sure you express why that particular company will be a great match for you. This means doing some homework about the company. Find out aspects such as company values and mission, company culture, how they make their money, their customers. And then talk about why all of this resonates with you.
Have personal stories and examples.
You need to be able to tell relevant stories about yourself, from work and personal experiences. (Variety is good.) Why are you the right person for the job? Have stories that reflect the skills that make you the right person for the job. Most interview questions will be behavioral—about a difficult experience and how you handled it, for example; or about a time you stepped into a leadership role. To develop strong examples, use the Use the STAR method: situation, task, action, results
Situation: I was on a team for a general business project and no one was interested in taking lead for this group.
Task: The team was functioning by a democratic system and it wasn’t working.
Action: I took the lead, identified everyone’s skills and assigned responsibilities that aligned with their strengths.
Result: The system kept everyone accountable and added structure. We got an A on the project.
Give a firm handshake.
It sounds basic, but make sure you have a firm handshake. If you don’t have a good handshake, employers will be turned off. It cannot be too weak or too firm; it has to be just right. Test it with others (who will tell you the truth).
Have good posture, make eye contact and smile.
Your body language says a lot about you. Don't slump or look too relaxed. Make eye contact. This will show that you’re interested and that you’re listening. And smile. Even if it’s a serious job, a smile will show them you’ve got personality and some lightness. Smiling also raises the energy in your voice. This is especially important in a phone interview.
Alison Davis-Blake, the former business school dean at the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, was inaugurated as the eighth president of Bentley University in a ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the extended Bentley community.