by Laurie Sedgwick, Candorful Interview Coach and Director of Career Management, Executive MBA Programs and Alumni, Cornell University

Practice, practice, practice.  A rookie mistake in interviewing is thinking you can wing it. I hear all too often from a client that they wish they had been as prepared at the start of their job search journey as at the end after having interviewed numerous times.

Here are my top five tips for nailing your next interview:

  1. Connect: It’s unlikely you’ll be hired, even if qualified, unless there’s a likeability factor. How do you connect with your interviewer? Be present.  Make eye contact and listen.
  2. Answer the question asked: Too often, interviewees go off on a tangent by taking hold of a topic embedded in the question that was asked.  Listen carefully to the question, ask yourself what the interviewer wants to know and understand about you and your skills and then answer that question.
  3. Keep your answers pithy and organized: Another common mistake interviewees make, is rambling.  Responses should be no more than 3 minutes. You can always ask if they’d like you to elaborate. Most answers can be delivered in the Problem, Action, Result framework.  Here was the problem or challenge (15%), here’s the action I took (75%), and here was the result (10%).
  4. Ask smart questions: Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. Steer clear of asking about time off, compensation, work hours, etc.  Gear your questions towards the function and industry.  Demonstrate your passion for the activities of the role and the industry.  Asking your interviewer about their career path at the company is also fair game.
  5. Ask for the job: An easy way to distinguish yourself from other candidates is to let them know you would love the job and if offered would accept. Summarize why you’re the best candidate; what distinguishes you.  Companies are looking for candidates who also want them.  Make this clear in the interview process.

The folks who ultimately are selected for a job are those who have mastered the interview process.  It takes a strategic approach to your responses to questions and a lot of practice.

Practice, practice, practice and go out and Nail that Interview!

Finally, it’s been a pleasure beyond my expectation to work with Candorful and reengage with my roots.  My father was a West Point grad, my grandfather served in WWII, and I spent six incredibly fulfilling years serving in the US Army Signal Corps.  For the past 20+ years I’ve been helping MBAs and Executives figure out their ideal vocation and how to get there. It’s an honor to be able to bring that cumulative experience to veterans and transitioning service members through Candorful!

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