3 Essential Steps to Ace Your Next Interview

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There are countless tips and tricks online about how to be successful in your next interview. However, this information overload is sometimes difficult to decipher and narrow down to what is most helpful. Here we will narrow it down to the most essential things.

Did you know that, on average, only 2% of applicants get called in for an interview? If it’s that hard to get an interview, it’s more important than ever to get that interview right. The first time.

1.   Practice

You may only get one chance at a real job interview, so by the time you get there, you want to make sure you’re ready. Practising in the mirror is one thing, but what sounds good in your head may not sound good out loud.

You can use online tools like Swyg Interview Practice that let you practice live with a real partner. The Swyg practice tool is pretty new and is great for anyone that is actively or casually looking for work. You get to see the answers of others to see how you compare and most importantly, you get independent feedback from Swyg.

2.   Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer

A good interview is designed to measure a combination of skills, experience, and fit for the organization. When you’re answering a question, remember that the interviewer is looking for certain elements in a good answer.

In other words, more and more companies are using structured interviews. What that means is that you will be asked predetermined questions related to the open role and then scored on specific skills or competencies.

A common scoring methodology (and therefore a good answering strategy) looks for the following elements: Situation, Task, Action, Result, Reflection or STARR.

For example, to answer the question “What is an example of a technical issue you resolved recently?” is:

  • SITUATION – Create some context:
    “Due to a mandatory upgrade of our system, one of my clients lost access to their account.”
  • TASK – Explain the challenge you faced:
    “It was my job to keep the client happy but also to make sure that the technical team prioritized the task to restore their account access.”
  • ACTION – What you did, focus on your own contribution:
    “First, I flagged the customer’s concern immediately to our technical team and I ensured the client was kept in the loop at all times and monitored the updates.
  • RESULT – A tangible outcome (and your contribution):
    “Because I repeatedly provided updates to the technical team, we were able to restore access in less than one hour” (Notice how I threw a quantifiable metric in there?)
  • REFLECTION – “What I have learned from this experience is that keeping everyone in the loop is crucial. It helped the client feel more valued and enabled the tech team to resolve the issue more quickly”

The Reflection step is really important and most people leave that one out. Any employer will want to keep their best employees around for years to come and to make that happen, employees have to learn. The reflection step of the STARR method shows how you learned.

3.   Prepare answers ahead of time

You already know some of the questions you’re likely to get.

  • Can you tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it?
  • What can you bring to the company?
  • How do you handle conflict at work?
  • How do you manage your time?
  • Tell me about the last time a co-worker or customer got angry with you. What happened?

And many more. So for each of these common questions:

  1. Think about what the interviewer is looking for. Each question is looking for a specific skill or competency you have.
  2. Think of specific examples from your experience that demonstrate the skill or competency that you want to convey.
  3. Prepare an answer using the STARR method for each interview question. You can do this in advance. Don’t forget the last R, reflection is super important.
  4. Make the most of Feedback – Getting feedback can be rare but understanding what you do well and what you need to improve is imperative. Get feedback from a coach, a friend, or a relative. But remember, your answers should be your own.

The best way to practice is with another person. It’s often the follow-up questions that make interviews hard. Make sure you use all the tools out there to help you practice interviewing and get feedback.

Take the time to practice and you will see your interview success rate go up in no time!

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