How to ace a Job Interview: Helpful strategies

August 26, 2021

How to Ace a Job Interview: Helpful Strategies

Job interviews are generally one of the most stressful parts of the job-seeking process. It’s important to remember that you want an interview with a company, not just any company. Due to the importance of interviewing, it’s highly recommended that you prepare as much as possible before the interview.

In today’s time, interviews have become the point of entry into a career. Usually, companies conduct some form of the hiring process where they choose from several candidates, potentially increasing their chances of reaching the right position. In every step of the application process interviewing is crucial to success.

Interviews are high stake events and often give jitters to the job seekers. Our helpful guide will help you conquer that interview.

What do you need to prepare for a job interview?

Prepare for interviews by preparing specific questions and answers. Research the company in advance to find out what they are looking for in a candidate, as well as what to expect in the interview. Different employers have different interview questions, so it’s important to be well prepared. Preparation can help reduce the stress of an interview by:

1. Having a list of questions to ask the interviewer

2. Knowing what you will be asked about

3. Gearing your interview experience for success

4. Be the best candidate on the list

Skills needed to ace the next interview

Broadly there are three phases of the interview process: practice, performance, and follow-up. Broken down here are the activities you need to complete.

  1. Before the interview: research and practice
  2. During the interview: performance
  3. After the interview: Follow up

We will discuss each of these areas in the upcoming sections.

Beating Interview Jitters


Come up with a list of possible interview questions and craft stories for each answer.

Rehearse and Practice

Some people like to record their answers and there are three key areas to focus on in the recording: Listen to your voice, inflections, speed.

Eat Well

Don’t skip eating as food provides you the energy to go through an interview, without it, you will slump at the wrong time and lose the required energy to go through the interview. Don’t overdo by eating too much or eating too many sugary foods or overdoing your caffeine dose.

Visualize success

Think about the good things to expect even before going into the interview. A typical job interview lasts an hour and you are expected to answer questions with short, concise answers. Prepare your mind for the outcome that you want to drive and then condition your thinking to each part of the interview and see how you want to be in charge of the flow.



Exercise to keep your mind and body fresh and tempo high. This goes very well on the day of the interview and keeps you focused. Don’t indulge in extra heavy exercise giving you sores and pains.

The Day of the Interview – Do’s and Don’ts

Interviewers base their evaluations on who else they interviewed that day. Surprisingly, strong candidates are rated lower than expected and weak candidates are rated higher than expected. Here are the tips to remember on the day of the interview.

Dress well

Choose function over style as much as possible. A dress code is important and should be followed. Unless you are someone who is very comfortable carrying a look do not be overly adventurous. Dress for the company culture – don’t wear an Italian 3 piece to a company where casual dressing is part of the culture; it will make you look out of place.

For men: Dress shirt, tie, dark slacks and blazer, cool socks, and dark leather shoes. Girls could wear light make-up, a pencil skirt, a nice blouse and jacket, and black stilettos for interviews. If you are more comfortable wearing traditional clothes then choose those if it’s accepted in the company and the job role. Don’t wear dark slacks or heels that are higher than 4 inches.

Be on Time

This is extremely important as this is the one controllable item that leaves a bad impression on most interviewers. You wouldn’t want to start on the wrong foot, would you?

Rehearse your Answers and Questions

Interviewers might not hire candidates who seem anxious. Slow talking can hurt a candidate’s chances because interviewers may have assumed that the candidate was having a hard time answering their questions. Take control of your nerves.

The best way to prepare for job interview questions is to learn them ahead of time.

Keep your confidence high

Try to fake confidence in your preparation. Try and meet people you haven’t met before in social settings and strike a conversation to see if you remain conversational or become jittery. Shake hands, smile, and make eye contact. Talking too fast is normal when nervous – control your rate of speech. Glass of water can help with your nerves.

Meeting - confidence

Be conversational

Think of an interview as an hour-long meeting with someone at the airport or in an aircraft. Don’t overthink to make it more than what it is. You need to think of it as a selection chance rather than a rejection chance. Keep it professional. Keep the personal details out of the interviews as job interviews are not the time to share all juicy details.

Don’t try to be friends with the interviewer

Some people overdo it by trying to become friends with the interviewer – which is not the objective of the interviewer. Don’t be overtly friendly with the interviewer yet maintain a joyful conversation. According to the “similarity-attraction hypothesis,” people tend to like people who share similar attitudes. So if you know your interviewer values community service, talk about it in your conversation.

Show your interest by complimenting the organization

Praise the organization and indicate enthusiasm for working there. Interviewers like to check for cultural fit and enthusiasm.

Be open about your weaknesses

It’s better to say something genuine like, “I’m not always the best at staying organized.” However, do counter this with a strength or how you overcome this weakness.

Be Positively Assertive

It is not nervous tics that hurt your chances, but being anxious makes you seem less assertive and speak slowly. Candidates who seem anxious are less likely to land the job. Do not be afraid to take ownership of your contribution – yet do not

Keep your Successes Handy

This is a great technique to bring the interview back on track if things don’t go as planned. Talking about your past successes in a good way to let the interviewer know that you are committed and have succeeded before. This is a credible signal to recover the conversation.


Prepare ice-breakers, fillers, and pivots

There are several times when there are dead pauses, an interviewer losing interest, or a situation where you feel you have goofed up. How do you recover? Practice some ice-breakers, gap-fillers, and strategies to pivot the conversation.

You can ask the interviewer how they got to where they are now. This builds rapport with the interviewer and is a good jumping-off point for more uncommon commonalities. Ask about the role – this shows your enthusiasm for the position. Advanced questions subtly planted in the interviewer’s mind image of you working for them. You can give an additional read about pivoting and bridging here.

Handling Tough Job Interview Questions

Aren’t you overqualified for this position?

When you reach a certain level in your career, the term “overqualified” will rear its unwelcome head. It has many forms: “I’m worried you won’t be as committed to this position” or “I’m concerned that you’re older than the person who will be managing you”. The best way to put these fears to rest is by emphasizing the value of the job and company. Hiring managers need to be reassured that you will stay committed.

What would your worst enemy say about you?

“What are your weaknesses?” is another way to ask the question. “I hold myself to a very high standard.” type of answer doesn’t work. Be honest, and if possible, show that you’ve learned from mistakes. The interviewer is asking how you have learned from your mistakes.

Why should we hire you?

This is a great time to provide a summary of your strengths and unique perspective for the position. Use smaller sentences to reflect the key points. An example: I have experience in finance and I’m confident I would be a great addition to your team. Experience in the financial industry with a proven record of saving the company money.

Talk about one time that you completely messed up?

Own up when you are wrong. Adopt the “adapter” mindset and show that you take responsibility for your actions. It’s good to talk about your mistakes as a source of reflection and how it’s better shaped you as a person.

Why are you looking for a job change?

Be careful what you say about your current or most recent employer. Stay away from the negative. Focus on what you like about your job. Don’t talk about your boss’s bad qualities. One way to justify your move is to focus on things that are good about the company but limited opportunities.

How would your manager describe you?

Show your strengths and what your boss appreciates about what you bring to the table. The best way to answer a question like this is with an anecdote. For example, “My boss always counts on me in difficult situations”

Narrate an instance when you overcame a major obstacle

The interviewer asks this to see if you are able to deal with roadblocks. Being able to overcome obstacles is a great trait.

Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Employers ask this question to see if you have a general plan for your career. It’s important to work towards something and be goal-oriented.

Why do you want to work with our company?

This question is designed to find out if you’ve done research on the company. Companies want people that are excited to work there, not just someone that shows up for a paycheck. The answer shows enthusiasm for the actual position.

How to follow up after an interview?

Send a follow-up email within 24 hours of an interview. Thank the interviewer and let them know you’re available if they have any additional questions. Here are some tips from Michael Page UK.

How to handle a virtual interview?

Consider the tools that are needed for a successful virtual interview Set up your computer and other technology before your virtual interview. Remember to check your internet and computer for any possible glitches before the interview. Turn on the sound and video for a successful interview.

Dressing professionally is important for the interview. A desk or table is best for computer placement. Be respectful about the time of your interview and that you’re off-limits during that time. Avoid blank space on camera and ensure your face is in the middle of the screen. Ask the interviewer about their experience with virtual interviews – it’s a great ice-breaker. Find some other neutral topic to learn more about the interviewer.

HBR has a great article on virtual interviews.


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