What are the 3 steps to a great interview where you end up with the job offer? You can break it down to (1) interview preparation, (2) interview techniques, and (3) follow up.
Here are the most important things you can do in each step of this critical process to stand out from your competition, 'wow' your future employer, and get the job offer.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
To start with, I don't think it's possible to 'over-prepare' for a job interview. Interview preparation is so critical, I can't emphasize it enough to all my candidates and coaching clients.
Most job seekers aren't doing quite enough to prepare for their job interviews. To begin with, as soon as you know you're going to interview (and maybe sooner, if you're targeting that company as a potential employer), start researching.
Research the Company
Google the company--check out their corporate website, and see what's going on with them. Have they issued any press releases? Have they been in the news for expansion plans or troubling problems? What's their place in the market?
Then read the company's LinkedIn page as well as the profiles of high-level executives who work there. This already digs a little deeper than most of your competition will do. You can learn a lot of vital background information.
Research the Job
Then, research the job itself and think about it critically in relation to your own job history and background. What have you done that will help you shine in this job?
If you're a new graduate or a career-changer, consider job shadowing for a day to get a better grip on the details of day-to-day life in that role and you'll have a much stronger interview.
Write a 30-60-90-Day Plan
Take what you've learned and write a 30/60/90-day plan, which is an outline of what you intend to do your first 3 months on the job--from learning the ropes to standing on your own two feet and making your own contributions to the company. Bring your ideas to the interview and talk them over with the hiring manager (your future boss). This gives them a 'test drive' of what it would be like with you in that role, which dramatically boosts your chances of getting the offer.
(See our Best Guide to Writing a 30-60-90-Day Plan.)
Job interviewing is a skill. It takes some thought and practice to be able to present your skills and qualifications in a way that 'sells' you to the employer. If you've ever wondered why someone you know seems to be so much better at moving up the career ladder when they're no more qualified than you are, it's probably at least partially because they're skilled job interviewers.
Practice Answering Interview Questions
Think about the job and come up with typical job interview questions they'll probably ask you. Think about what you could say in reaction to each question that gives them a reason to hire you. Practice saying it out loud (to a mirror, to a friend, or even to your dog) so that you become comfortable saying it. This practice will make you seem so much more confident and capable than you would without it, and it will inspire the interviewer to be confident in you.
(See the best answers to 101 tough job interview questions.)
Hire an Interview Coach
Working with a personal career coach is the fastest way to find out how you're coming across to a potential employer and refine your skills. With a coach, you can role-play interview questions with someone who can give you constructive, immediate feedback. You can even get a critique on your attire, body language, and general job interview etiquette. You'll almost certainly be surprised at something you're doing that you shouldn't be; or at some small thing you can improve that will lead you to exponentially greater results.
(See a list of Career Confidential qualified career coaches.)
3. Follow up.
Don't underestimate the power of the post-interview follow up. You can do more than just send a thank you note, although you'll already stand out if you do.
Write an Effective Thank You Note
Send an emailed thank you within 24 hours of your interview that directly references your fit for the job and reiterates that you want it. (See thank you note samples.)
Other ideas for following up?
Revamp your 30-60-09-Day Plan with the input you got during the interview, and send your revised plan with your thank you note. You'll communicate that you can take constructive criticism, that you're adaptable and flexible, that you can think strategically, and that you are really interested in this job.
Should you ever call the employer as part of your follow up?
Sometimes. Find out when in my free report on how to follow up after the job interview.
Find more great interview insights and advice in Career Confidential's free Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Prep.