This year I have been very focused on moving up in the company I work for. Interviewing has never been a strong quality of mine as my nerves occassionally get in the way. I never knew how to properly prepare for an interview. But this year I’ve had a focus on changing that and improving my interview game.

While everyone is different and all interviews are different, I feel like I have made a huge improvement from where I was at the beginning of the year and can therefore help those who are where I was at the start of the year, shy, timid, and nervous.

I will go over a few helpful tips that have helped me prepare for an interview. My last interview I felt like I knocked it out of the park and I want you to feel the same when you go for your interview.

Know your why

Before this year, I was fully focused on my own production and proving that I can produce sales. Now I have an urge to do more and help more people and this will come with a promotion into a leadership position.

What is your why?

Why are you going for this position in particular?

Not only will you most likely be asked that at the interview, so it would be good to be ready with an answer, but also knowing you why will help you be in the right mindset when giving your interview answers. 

While in the back of my mind the financial stability would be great, there are definitely other more important reasons for going for the position. I want to be challenged at work, I want to help others, I want to help the company grow, I want to learn leadership skills.

All these reasons just solidified the right mindset when asked the question “Why do you want this position?”

Be Prepared

While this one seems like a no brainer, it’s important to not only be prepare for an interview, but also to prepare in the right way.

One helpful suggestion I recently implemented is to call the interviewer before your interview. Ask them 1-2 questions to get an idea of who they are looking for to fill the position. 

Ask them about the company’s or the store’s goals or what type of leadership is needed for that location. These questions will help you clarify your objectives in your interview. 

You don’t want to repeat word for word the answer you get from the interviewer, but you do want to cater your answers to help solve a problem or ideas on how to move the company in the direction it’s goals are aimed.

Study up on your interview questions

An interviewer has a large arsenol of questions to ask. There are even questions catered to a particular person or personality type. How do you know what they will ask?

You won’t.

Unless you have mind-reading skills, you will not know what questions will be asked. Be prepared with answers to the main types of questions that get asked in interviews.

Be ready with behavior based questions as well as personality based questions. 

Behavior-based questions

Behavior-based questions are questions that ask about a scenario or a behavior and how you overcame a challenge. It is important to know what the interviewer is looking for in the answer to these questions.

Example questions: Tell me about a time you had a stressful situation and how did you handle it?

With these type of questions, you want to remember STAR:

S – Situation > Set the scene. What challenges were you facing? What was the problem?

T – Task > Explain your responsibility in that situation. 

A – Action > Describe how you completed the task, solved the problem, or resolved the conflict.

R – Result > Explain the result from the action taken and how it improved the situation, company, or culture.

Learn: How to Use STAR Interview response technique – thebalancecareers.com

Personality-based questions 

Occasionally you will get the interviewer that asks more personality-based questions to get an idea of what you think about yourself and what others think about you. 

One popular question you should be prepared for is,

”What are three words that a friend or coworker would use to describe you?”

More personality questions include,

  • What would your manager say is your best quality?”
  • ”What would your manager say is your worst quality, or quality that needs improvement?”
  • ”How would your coworkers describe you?”
  • “How would you describe yourself? What do you think is your best quality?”

These questions are used to get an idea of how others view you and how you think about yourself. It is good to have these type questions prepared. 

Reach out to your manager or your coworkers or friends and ask them to describe you in three words. You don’t have to guess, most people are willing to give you some great qualities to use in your interview.

Review your accomplishments 

Knowing your own accomplishments and history is a great way to show you are capable of the position you are applying for.

Keep in mind that most employers only care about what you did over this past year. They don’t care about what you achieved last year. So cater the promotion of your achievements to things that were done recently.

Let your numbers speak for you  

An easy way to completely fail an interview, even if it was the best interview you ever had, is to go in with low numbers or percentages. 

The interview could be right on point, but if you are only trending 50% of your goals, it won’t go that far. 

Employers and managers are looking to hire people who can not only check all the boxes and have an outstanding interview, but who also have the performance metrics to back them up.

If you are not at goal, you can still interview, but make sure you have accomplishments that you can go over to off-set your low numbers. Never and I mean, NEVER, blame your low performance or low numbers on anything! Don’t blame it on other people or the traffic of the store or the season or customers. 

Potential employers want to know that you can take responsibility for your numbers and your actions. 

Have Confidence 

Regardless if you know all the answers, have great performance or not, or anything, having confidence in yourself goes a long way.

Show the interviewer that you are strong and confident. 

If you are nervous, take a deep breathe. Look your interviewer in the eyes, cross your legs and look comfortable. Give a strong handshake. Ask how their day is going. 

Keep in mind they are people too. They had to go through the same interview to get their position. Try to let your guard down. Of course, don’t get too comfortable with them, but at the same time be personable.

See also: 9 Sure-Fire Ways to Boost Your Confidence

Bring Recommendations

Recently I was beat out of a position because of a tactic that I just didn’t think about. The interviewee produced a page of contacts that the interviewer could reach out to and all of those people were able to recommend them and say great things about them. Typing up a recommendations page is a great way to prepare for an interview. 

Who would recommend you?

Think about your network. If you made a page of recommendations, who would be on there? Would all those people say great things about you?

Call a few of your previous managers and coworkers. Ask if you could use them as a recommendation. Most people are more than willing to rant about you in all the best ways. 

If it could make the difference in whether or not you get the position, isn’t it worth the time to make a simple phone call?

Prepare for an interview

That’s all I have for you. I hope I have helped you in getting some new ideas on how to prepare for an interview. Don’t worry about it, you got this. 

Good luck!