Job-seeking is a beautiful mess.
You struggle with articulating your experiences and achievements. You get all worked up about finding the perfect answer to pretty much the same 10 interview questions. Then, you have to figure out if you’re a cultural fit, only to compete with hundreds of other people with very similar backgrounds.
Ah, the price we pay to afford our instaworthy vacations and endless supply of athleisure.
The good news is that interviewing doesn’t have to be that hard. In this article, we’ll give you 12 quick interview tips to help you prepare, know what to expect, and how to act and react on the spot.
This article was written with help from professionals in different roles and industries who have one thing in common: they’re connected to the HR industry, they’re passionate about hiring the right candidates, and they already helped numerous people land the jobs of their dreams. Special thanks to Vukasin and Michael for sharing their expertise with us.
- Why and how you need to research the company
- How to make a list of your proudest accomplishments
- How to anticipate interview questions so that you always know what’s coming
- How to tactfully answer tricky questions
Don’t waste days compiling overused interview techniques. Get original answers to every single question you could expect.
Bonus Tip: Nurture Professional Connections
Before we begin with specific interview tips, here’s an important tip to make the job search easier in general: build meaningful connections.
I spoke to Vukasin Vukosavljevic, a Marketing and Growth advisor who interviewed countless candidates and hired 60+ people for different companies and industries. Vuk sees hiring people as assembling a football or a basketball team. He has certain candidates in mind before the position is open — and that’s because he has established a connection with them.
Why is this important to you?
When you build and nurture a network of relevant professional connections, you’ll see magic happening. Recruiters and hiring managers will reach out to you about job opportunities before they’re even advertised. This will automatically make you the most attractive candidate.
You can become this candidate by building connections and standing out in your industry:
- Optimize your LinkedIn profile and stay active (share insights and engage with other people’s content)
- Create and share actionable content (LinkedIn, social media, your portfolio, and video materials)
- Participate in relevant industry discussions (on LinkedIn, forums, webinars, and in-person events)
- Reach out and offer to contribute guest articles to relevant websites, platforms, and blogs
- Work on your network and focus on the quality, not quantity of connections (be in touch regularly, exchange useful resources, recommend people for jobs, support them in their professional efforts)
- Build in public: share your work, growth, failures, thoughts, and experiments
If this sounds like too much, pick one or two from this list — for starters, starting being active on LinkedIn is enough.
Being approached by a recruiter or recommended by someone will create this positive bias towards you, and it’ll be easier to stand out and charm the interviewers with the tips below. 😉
Tip #1: Do Your Homework
Research the company to make the most of your interview.
Find information on the company’s history, work culture, recent news, and industry trends. If possible, get some basic information about the person you’ll be interviewing with.
How to do it:
- Research the company’s website. Look at their history, career page, mission and vision, values, ideal client, and industry.
- Google the company for relevant news and events.
- Find the company’s social media accounts to get a feel of their voice and be in the loop with announcements.
- Check out their LinkedIn page to research the person you’ll be speaking to.
- Check Glassdoor and similar platforms for reviews and first-hand employee experiences.
- Search forums like Reddit or Quora for public opinion and first-hand experiences with the company.
✅ Pro Tip: Not sure who you’ll be interviewing with? It’s perfectly fine to email HR and ask.
All of the above will help you with 3 things:
- Anxiety: You’ll know who you’re speaking to, what to expect, and what the company is like, which will ease your nerves.
- Culture fit: You’ll have a stronger sense of whether or not you fit in.
- Asking relevant questions: You’ll ask tailored questions to you obtain valuable info and come across as prepared and resourceful.
For more information, learn How to Prepare for an Interview (Best Tips).
For more tips on company research, read The Job-Seeker’s Guide to Company Research.
Tip #2: Make a Bulleted List of Your Key Accomplishments
Most candidates stink at doing this. The ones who execute it well are almost always the ones who get the job — even if someone else is more qualified.
The key is to pick out the proudest accomplishments of your career and write them down in a list. It’ll help you prove your competence and skills.
“Experience is important. We all want the person who knows what they’re doing and will make their boss’ life easier,” said Vuk. And what better way to prove you’ve got what it takes than to have a list of your top achievements at hand? So, know your accomplishments and be ready to speak about them.
Let’s see how this works.
Meet Jane. At her previous job as Customer Happiness Officer, she scored three significant wins:
- Increased average customer satisfaction scores from 79% to 95% by redesigning user surveys and implementing a new reporting system for the product team. This shows her creative problem-solving skills, analytical skills, and communication skills.
- Reduced response time by 29% by tweaking the ticketing system and introducing and optimizing automated responses for common queries. This, in turn, contributed to increased customer satisfaction. Jane displayed efficiency in process optimization, strategic thinking, and customer focus.
- Initiated a Proactive Customer Support Program with her team, which resulted in a 22% decrease in customer support tickets for basic inquiries. The program provided customers with tutorials, tips, and best practices for maximizing the use of the product. This showed Jane’s and her team’s strategic thinking, proactiveness, and communication skills.
So now, whenever they ask Jane about “a time you had to solve a problem” or “a time you had to work collaboratively,” she has her answers ready. Better yet, backed by verifiable evidence.
Here’s how you can do this for yourself:
- Look back at your experiences and use the PAR (Problem-Action-Result) formula. Did you solve a problem at work? What action did you take to solve it and what was the result?
- Think of the frequency of your work. How many initiatives did you finish per day/week/month/quarter? For example, you resolved 50 customer tickets/day, wrote 7 long-form pieces of content/month, or booked 10 demos with clients/week.
- Think of the scale of your work. How many people you managed, how big the budgets you handled were, or how many international markets your team operated on.
- Make your accomplishments SMART: Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
To learn how to talk about your accomplishments, read “What Accomplishments Are You Most Proud Of?” 6 Examples.
If you want to know more about how to come up with accomplishments for your resume, read Achievements and Accomplishments for a Resume: Examples + How to List Them. The majority of the tips are about accomplishments on a resume, but you’ll also find invaluable tactics to come up with measurable accomplishments.
For more tips on how to practice these specific stories, check out the video below:
Tip #3: Always Have Questions Prepared for the Interviewer
Your interview is coming to an end. You’re feeling pretty confident so far.
“Do you have any questions for us?” they ask you.
“No, I’m good.”
“Okay, we’ll call you.”
(They never will.)
Not asking the interviewer any questions kills your chances in an instant. So does asking generic, unimaginative ones.
“For me, one of the key soft skills a candidate needs to have is curiosity. Curiosity can be reflected in different ways, but the one I focus on the most is asking questions. The right candidate needs to ask relevant questions, as that will show me they are ready to challenge the status quo, explore alternatives, and be dedicated to continuous learning and development.”, said Vuk.
So, to stand out, prepare several thoughtful, open-ended questions (aim to ask 3 but have a few more, some of your questions may be answered before you get the chance to ask). Make sure it’s something that you can’t find the answer for on the company website, by googling, or looking at social media.
Here are a few interesting questions to ask about the company, its culture, or the role:
- How would you know you’d hired the right person after the first 90 days in the role?
- What do new employees often find surprising after they start?
- If you had a magic wand and could change anything here, what would it be?
- Can you tell me a bit about company values and how you put them into practice?
- What’s the performance review process like here and what is a possible growth trajectory for someone in this role?
Modify the questions based on the company, industry, latest industry/economic circumstances, and other relevant factors.
⚠️ Don’t just ask questions to try and make a good impression. Ask about what you genuinely want to know to help you decide if the company is the right one for you. Otherwise, a month or two down the line, you might realize that you don’t share company values, don’t like your coworkers, or get zero opportunities for professional development.
For a full list of questions to ask at the end of the interview, as well as for tips on how to come up with them, read 40+ Smart Questions to Ask at the End of Any Job Interview.
Find more inspiration (and questions) in the video below:
Tip #4: Arrive Early
This seems like a dead giveaway, but messing it up could cost you the job.
If you plan to drive, make sure you know the area and have a place to park your car. Take into consideration unpredictable situations like traffic or bad weather.
Plan your commute and make sure you arrive 10–15 minutes early to give yourself the time to find the right building, office, and room.
If the interview is a virtual one, test your setup 10–15 minutes before the call and enter the call a few minutes earlier.
Coming a bit earlier will not only show good manners, but it’ll help you feel more comfortable and relaxed. You’ll have some time to compose yourself and get used to the surroundings.
Much better than rushing into the office or a call breathless and a few minutes late, right?
Tip #5: Greet Your Interviewer with a Confident Handshake and a Smile
A fairly simple one, but you’d be surprised at how it sets the tone of the interview and how much of a difference it can make.
Displaying a positive attitude and being respectful and confident will make you look trustworthy, well-adjusted, and reliable. It also displays solid communication skills — particularly important if you’re applying for a role where communication is vital (let’s be honest, it’s a valuable skill for pretty much any position).
In case you interview online, come to the call with a smile and politely greet the interviewer. This will have the same effect.
For more simple tips on how to leave a good impression, read about 9 Ways to Sell Yourself in an Interview (+ Examples).
Tip #6: Make Your Behavioral Answers STAR-Based
Remember questions like this?
- “Tell Me About a Time You Failed”
- “Tell me about a time when you faced a difficult problem at work”
- “Describe a situation where you faced a conflict?”
- “Tell me about a time you had to lead and motivate people.”
- “Share a rewarding team experience.”
They’re behavioral interview questions looking to assess your past behavior at work, to help the interviewer predict your future actions.
✅Pro tip: Before the interview, try to anticipate some of the behavioral questions you might get. They are usually closely related to key skills needed for a position. For example, if you’re applying for a Customer Service role, expect questions about handling a difficult customer, resolving a conflict, or finding a solution to a problem. For Sales, it might be something about your communication skills, a time when you had to convince someone to see things your way, and a rewarding experience when you built a meaningful relationship with a client.
When answering these behavioral interview questions, use the STAR method.
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. It’s a framework for you to tell a story about how you displayed a certain skill or discuss an event they asked you about. It’s the best way to tell a compelling story that’s interesting and provides proof of your abilities.
Let’s see how the STAR method works in practice:
Interviewer: Share an example where you had to give a presentation or a speech.
Situation: Two years ago, I landed my first serious job in a company I liked. At the end of my second quarter there, they asked me to give a presentation.
Task: I had to update my team and team leader about the progress of my projects and performance. I was fairly new to the team, so I was extremely anxious.
Action: To try and relax, I started practicing like crazy. I created a nicely structured presentation and highlighted key points with a clear agenda. I asked my manager to check it out, so when she suggested a few improvements, I felt like the outline was perfect. I then worked on the visual elements to back up my claims and keep the team interested and engaged. I practiced for a full week in front of my girlfriend and friends, and they gave me feedback on my intonation, breathing, body language, and other details. I got better and less nervous, so a week later, my presentation was well-received.
Result: My team and my manager gave me positive feedback and it was a big confidence boost. After that, I realized that preparing and practicing is the key to successful presentations. I started doing it regularly and immensely improved my presentation and public speaking skills. I don’t have to spend as much time practicing and I’m not nervous anymore. On the contrary, I regularly volunteer to give presentations.
✅ Pro tip: The Situation part needs to take up about 15% of your answer. Task — 10%. Action needs to be the longest part, about 60%. And the results should take up around 15%. This is because the Action part needs to outline, in detail, how exactly you completed a task, displaying the most important skills.
For a detailed guide, head here: The STAR Interview Method: How to Answer + Examples. And if you want to see another example, check out the video below:
A more detailed guide on how to answer behavioral questions below:
Tip #7: Use Appropriate Body Language
And while some of those findings have been debated (after all, “meaning” can hardly be measured in percentages), modern-day research across vastly different fields also suggests that non-verbal cues are more important than words. If you’re interested, check out studies like this or this.
Knowing how much of our communication is non-verbal should make you careful about your body language in a job interview and help you leave the impression of a calm, confident, competent candidate.
💡 Sit up straight, facing the interviewer. Keep your arms open, don’t cross them.
💡 Maintain a steady amount of eye contact. Don’t stare constantly, but don’t avoid it!
💡 Smile politely when appropriate, like when speaking about pleasant things.
💡 Control nervous habits. No clicking of a pen, no leg shaking, no nail-biting.
✅ Pro tip: Practicing your answers in advance will help you with appropriate body language and nervous habit control. You’ll have your answer, know exactly what you want to say, and you’ll be more confident. Your mind won’t need to self-soothe by shaking your leg. See? As always, preparation is the key to everything. 😉
Here are more body language mistakes you can easily avoid:
Tip #8: Prepare for the Most Common “Basic” Interview Questions
Some interview questions are considered “classics.” These are very common questions that aim to get to know you. You’ll 100% hear at least a few of them in your next interview, so it’s better to prepare for them.
Here’s a list of questions and detailed guides to help you prepare:
- “Tell Me About Yourself” 20+ Sample Answers + How-to
- “Describe Your Current Job Responsibilities:” Sample Answers
- “What Accomplishments Are You Most Proud Of?” 6 Examples
- What Are Your Strengths (and Weaknesses): Example Answers + Bonus Tips
- What Is Your Greatest Weakness? (Sample Answers + Tips)
- “Tell Me About a Time You Failed”: How to Answer + Examples
- “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?” Top Reasons, Examples, How to Answer
- “What Can You Contribute to the Company?” How to Answer
- How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?” (Examples)
- How to Answer “Why Are You Interested in This Position?”
- How to Answer: “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?” (+ Examples)
- Why Should We Hire You? Best Answer Examples
- How to Answer “What Are Your Salary Expectations?” (+3 Templates)
Don’t worry — interviewers don’t expect you to read their minds or give scripted answers. The guides above will explain the intention behind each question and best practices for answering, so you can create and modify your answers in the best way possible.
And if you get blindsided by an unexpected question, here’s how to handle it:
Tip #9: Manage Your Nerves and Understand You Can’t Avoid Them
It’s normal to feel nervous before your job interview. It’s an important occasion and you care about leaving a good impression.
Interviewers know this and they generally expect you to be at least a little bit nervous — don’t worry, it won’t disqualify you.
You can take some steps, though, to be more prepared and less nervous:
- Prepare for the interview, research the company and the position, go through the most common interview questions, and prepare answers and accomplishments.
- Create an elevator pitch, a brief self-introduction you can use when they ask you to tell them a bit about yourself.
- Prepare the questions to ask the interviewer at the end.
- Try using visualization or positive affirmations.
- Move your body before the interview. A brief walk will help you clear your mind and regain a sense of control.
- Go to as many interviews as you can. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice and get desensitized to interview anxiety.
- If the nerves turn into something more serious that leads to panic attacks, seek help from a therapist or counselor.
For more information that will help you decrease anxiety and become more confident, read Interview Anxiety: How to Calm Nerves Before an Interview.
Tip #10: Listen Actively
You would be shocked by the number of people who don’t listen to everything the interviewer is asking. It’s the grownup equivalent of skimming over the test instructions. Don’t do this. Make sure you understand everything the interviewer is asking, so you can give your best response.
One thing that can help you is practicing active listening. Carefully listen to every question they ask you. Don’t expect it to 100% match the questions you researched and prepared for (so be ready to adjust your answers and don’t learn them by heart).
Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question.
Finally, answer the questions truthfully. Don’t exaggerate or lie, as interviewers are trained to immediately spot lies and embellishments.
Tip #11: Don’t Badmouth Anyone
Naturally, you might get a question or two about your failures, reasons for leaving your last job, conflict with a coworker, and similar.
These are delicate questions and you could be tempted to play the blame game. Resist that temptation. Badmouthing your ex-company or coworkers will leave a terrible impression and raise numerous red flags about your integrity.
Here’s what Vuk had to say on this topic: “Ownership is a skill I really value. Many things can and will go wrong at work, that’s just the way it is. Accepting the unpleasant and taking responsibility for your part is what matters. The way candidates speak about failures and unpleasantries is telling of their values and stances.”
Therefore, be tactful. Choose your words carefully, make sure to show you’re objective and understanding of other people’s perspectives, and don’t put the blame exclusively on other people. Own your mistakes.
Generally, for questions like these, you’ll want to highlight lessons learned and focus on the positive.
For example, if you quit a job because of a crappy boss, don’t be that blunt about it. Instead, talk about the deeper issues on why your relationship didn’t work. This could be that you didn’t always see eye to eye with them or simply that you felt you were ready to grow and seek new challenges. Then highlight your gratitude for the experience, say what you learned from it, and move on.
If you get one of those tricky questions like “Why do you want to leave your job?”, here’s what to do:
Want to learn more about how to answer common interview questions and negotiate your salary? Sign up for our free course.
Tip #12: Send a Follow-up Email After the Interview
Follow-up emails are a nice way to stand out from the competition. A follow-up thank-you email should be sent to all your interviewers (separately) within 24 hours after the interview.
In it, you should:
- Thank them for their time.
- Restate your interest in the role and the qualifications that make you the best fit.
- Personalize by bringing up a topic you covered in an interview.
- Ask if they need any additional information from you.
- Provide a sign-off with your full name and contact information.
✅ Pro tip: You should send a thank-you email after each interviewing round. The deeper you are in the process, the more detailed the email should be (although it shouldn’t be too long). This means that the email after the initial phone call will be super short and general, the one after the first round (in-person or video) will be a bit more detailed, the one after the second round will be even more detailed, and so on.
For a detailed guide and different types of follow-up emails (in case you haven’t heard from the interviewer in some time), check out How to Write a Follow-Up Email After an Interview: 6 Templates.
Summary of the Main Points
- The less prepared you are for an interview, the more nervous you will be.
- Even if you’re fully prepared, it’s normal to be a bit anxious. Interviewers know this and it won’t affect your chances of landing a job if you’re the right candidate.
- To stand out, research the company and prepare relevant questions to ask the interviewer.
- Before the interview, make a list of your best accomplishments — it will help you answer common interview questions and prove you have what it takes to thrive in a new role.
- Arrive early, greet your interviewer politely, have a firm handshake, and make eye contact.
- Be mindful of your body language, don’t give in to nervous habits like leg shaking, and practice active listening.
- Don’t badmouth previous company or coworkers, focus on the positives and tactfully highlight lessons learned from negative experiences.
- Send a follow-up email within 24 hours after the interview.
Need a hand landing your next job? Here’s how we can help:
- Watch a free webinar from Pam, our head career coach, on unexpected interview questions.
- Learn how to turn more job interviews into job offers here. (Rated with 4.9/5 by 1,000,000 users).
- Changing careers? Here’s 18 Career Change Interview Questions and Sample Answers.
- Want to polish up your resume? Try our Resume AI tool, the smartest resume software out there.
I’m heading to an interview now. What are the best last-minute tips?
Take a second to go through your elevator pitch and revise it. Make sure you summarize your relevant skills and experiences, and focus on how you can contribute to the company. Review your list of accomplishments, practice mindful breathing, and repeat some positive affirmations to yourself. Rehearse a few questions you’d like to ask the interviewer. Stay positive.
How to get better at interviewing?
“Interview more. Don’t be afraid to go to an interview just because you think you’re underqualified. Have a job that you like, but someone wants to scout you? Go to that interview even if you don’t intend to jump ship. The experience will come in handy whenever your next big interview happens,” said Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW, resume expert, and career advice writer and editor.
During interviews, the key is to adjust your approach to each company, research the company and the role, and understand how you fit in. Conduct mock interviews with friends or using specialized platforms, learn about common interview questions, get familiar with the STAR method, identify your key accomplishments (quantified, whenever possible) and get ready to discuss them. Improve your communication skills, practice active listening, be mindful of your body language, and make it a habit to send post-interview follow-up emails. Finally, learn from your experiences, stay positive and confident, and ask for feedback, as constructive criticism will help you improve.
How to convey my enthusiasm for the role during a video interview?
You can display enthusiasm by referring to the aspects of the role or company that excite you. You can also directly talk about your enthusiasm because of the alignment between your and the company’s values. Additionally, maintain a positive attitude, smile when appropriate (when greeting the interviewer or talking about positive things from your experience), and use hand gestures to prove your key points. Use a lively, engaged tone of voice when you’re speaking, and most importantly, ask engaging, tailored questions that reflect your knowledge of the company and interest in working with them.
What are some tips for phone interviews?
Phone interviews are considerably shorter and more general than in-person or video interviews. They’ll usually last between 10 and 30 minutes and be focused on your qualifications, reasons you want to change jobs, motivation to apply for this position, availability, and salary expectations. It would be best to prepare and practice your elevator pitch, some of your key accomplishments, and the alignment between the role and your experience in order to demonstrate why you’re motivated for the role. Have answers ready about your availability and notice period, and have a ballpark figure when it comes to your salary. Rarely, you can expect a few behavioral interview questions, so go through a few of them, just in case.
What are the best tips for panel interviews?
Expect various behavioral questions, especially the ones regarding your conflict-resolution skills, problem-solving, and leadership. Practice answering them using the STAR method. As usual, before the panel interview, research the role and the company, as well as all the interviewers that will be present (check out their LinkedIn pages, too), prepare a few achievements, and practice. Additionally, you can bring extra copies of your resume and hand them out to all interviewers. Look for different ways you can connect and communicate with all panel members and have outstanding communication skills: carefully answer questions, practice active listening, and have a positive attitude and body language. Make eye contact with everyone. After the interview, send a separate thank-you email to each panel member, and make sure to personalize each — don’t copy-paste and send the same thing to everyone.
Where can I learn some effective interviewing techniques?
Through online courses and webinars, books and guides, career centers and workshops, or interview simulators like Big Interview. You’ll find a lot of invaluable resources in blogs, YouTube channels, or podcasts. If you’re in the position to work with a career coach or consultant, you’ll learn the most. Spot mentorship opportunities and work on building your network, as it can provide you with practical insights and personalized guidance.