An upcoming job interview for a position you’re interested in is enough to cause mild anxiety. After all, the evaluation of your professional and personal qualities by an unknown party is not an everyday activity. What can you do to ace an interview for your dream job?
Author Travis Bradbury offered one suggestion: “Get to know the job you’re applying for.” Don’t just read the job description — study it and imagine yourself performing each task that is required of you. When interviewing, framing your answers to reveal your considerable knowledge of the job gives you a huge advantage.”
Of course, you can use many other strategies for success when you interview for your dream job. To help you discover more of them, below you’ll find actionable tips from various business superstars.
Ask your own questions
Some say that a successful job interview is what is remembered by the person conducting it. If so, you should do everything you can to leave interviewers with positive, lasting memories of your interview. Asking your own questions is a sure way to make this happen.
“At this point, almost every job interview will have room for questions from the interviewee,” says Dan Potter, head of digital at CRAFTD. “But many candidates voluntarily say no and hurt their chances of getting an offer. Instead, ask your interviewer genuine questions to learn more about the role and whether it’s a good fit for what You want.”
The anxiety that comes with a big job interview can prevent you from asking yourself a great question on the spot. That’s why you need to be proactive in your interview preparation and make sure you come up with a list of questions you want answered.
Know what you’re getting into
Twenty years ago, a job interview was much different than it is today. How many different interview formats are there now? Between video, phone, in-person and group interviews, there is no shortage of format options. Each one of them is unique. To give yourself the best chance of success, learn as much as you can about the type of interview you will be taking.
“Some companies want their job interview process to be completely remote, especially if they have hybrid or remote roles,” says Soji James, lead expert certified personal trainer at 1AND1. “Be prepared by knowing what platform you’ll be interviewing on to make sure everything goes smoothly.”
Your interview format will likely be detailed in the position advertisement or company communications. Failing to double-check whether your interview is remote or in-person can lead to an awkward moment or two.
Be firm about salary expectations
Speaking of awkward, the topic of financial compensation also has the potential for some not-so-comfortable moments. However, you have certain financial needs that must be met. Not only that, your skills are valuable and should be compensated accordingly. For this reason, don’t be shy about expressing your salary expectations.
“Confidence is a winning ingredient in any job interview,” says Derek Flanzreich, founder and CEO of Ness. “Especially when it comes to discussing salary – employers want to see that potential employees are direct and confident in what they’re bringing to the table.”
Be prepared with personal examples
In most interviews, you will be asked about your relevant experience. Employers want proof that the person they are interviewing can handle every aspect of the job. As the interviewee, you can anchor this part of the interview by providing real-life examples of your own relevant experience.
“Summary bullet points can provide so much information,” says Christy Pirtz, Chief Marketing Officer of Paradigm Peptides. “As you prepare for an interview, review what’s on your resume and develop practical examples to demonstrate what your personal experience really looks like.”
Before the interview, think about how you can relate past roles to the position you’re interviewing for. Your previous job may not fall into the same industry as your dream job, but a little creativity on your part can help bridge that gap.
Bring a copy or two of your resume
This idea may sound antiquated because of how pervasive digital technology is, so why bring paper into a heavily digital space?
“A job interview is like a test in school—you have to do well to get a passing grade,” says Kim Walls, CEO and co-founder of Furtuna Skin. “Bringing multiple copies of your resume is like extra credit and shows the person in charge that you’ve prepared yourself.”
A hard copy of your resume will ensure that your interviewer will actually review the document, which may not always be the case otherwise. Even if you don’t have your own printer, ask your local library or print shop for help. The extra effort will pay dividends.
Practice, practice, practice
Just like with a sport or creative skill, practicing something repeatedly will improve your skill at it. A job interview is no different. Take time in the week before the interview to practice answering common interview questions or talking about your professional life.
“A job interview is an environment in itself, and you really can’t recreate it outside of the office,” says Dr. Michael Green, Winona’s chief medical officer. “But as an interviewee, you can get better at describing your skills verbally or working on your body language in front of the mirror.”
The mirror is a great place to assess your demeanor, facial expressions, and hand gestures as you speak. You can also ask a family member or friend to act as a mock interviewer and give you feedback on your answers.
What is the first thing you notice about other people? It’s usually their appearance, and as much as you don’t want to, you probably form some kind of expectation about a person based on the way they’re dressed. This also applies to a job interview.
“Some job interviews will have a clear dress code,” says Cody Candy, founder and CEO of Bounce Luggage Storage. “There are others where this is not the case. Either way, it’s your responsibility to dress appropriately if you want real attention.
Center yourself before the interview
A job interview can be emotional and stressful, especially if you really want the role. That’s why it’s worth taking some time to calm down and de-stress beforehand.
“Focusing in the face of something as big as a dream job interview is anything but easy,” says Max Ade, CEO of Pickleheads. “But there has to be something to work towards, because a distracted mind or body can screw up your interview faster than you realize.”
Some might call this process practicing mindfulness, and it works differently for everyone. Some do well with breathing exercises. Others do well with mental visualization. You might even listen to a pumping song before you walk in the door. Don’t be afraid to try different methods to see what works for you.
Information is everything
Imagine a world where you run your own company and are looking for a new employee. You come across two candidates that you decide to bring to interviews. One greets you by name and mentions that he is familiar with your recent business moves. The other asks simple questions about what your company does and who you are. After such interactions, the choice of who to hire should be obvious.
“When an interviewee demonstrates that they understand the ins and outs of the company they’re interviewing with, it’s like a huge green light for the employer,” says Joshua Host, CEO of Thrivelab. “Companies want people who already know and are invested in their plans.”
Conversations with current (or former) company employees, as well as some basic reviews of the company’s website and employee LinkedIn pages, will set you apart from the competition.
Time is money. Companies do not and do not wait for a random candidate to show up in the office looking for a job. For them, this is a much more serious assessment – if someone is late to the interview, they will probably be recognized as unfit to work in the company.
“Some of the best professionals have lost career opportunities simply because they were late,” says John Berry, CEO and Managing Partner of Berry Law. “Don’t let yourself fall into this category when your dream job interview comes up – prepare and plan ahead.”
From traffic patterns to the moment you step on the floor in the morning, there are many elements of the day to consider in order to avoid being late.
Prepare for the interview
There are several variables to consider if you want to land your dream job interview, but don’t let this reality dissuade you from your aspirations. Instead, take to heart the words of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: “I knew that if I failed, I wouldn’t regret it, but I knew that the only thing I might regret was not trying.”
McClatchy editorial and editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content.