Fast Horse’s Foolproof Guide: How To Ace Your Interview

April 17, 2014

With upcoming graduates’ interviewing season just around the corner — and our summer internship recruitment underway — I thought I would impart a few tips that might help you in your quest to be a boss in interviews, wherever they may be.

UntitledFirst things first: first impressions. Make sure to highlight your most interesting qualities relative to the job or company, and leave them wanting more. There’s a good chance that if the interviewer feels like they benefitted from conversation with you, they’ll ask you to talk again. #winning

Think of the whole thing as a strategic conversation instead of an interview. This will help calm any nerves you might have going into it. After all, the discussion is as much for you to find out about them as it is for them to inquire about you. And make sure to ask questions of merit. Of course, you might have questions planned to ask about the company, where it came from and where it’s going, but do your best to learn those things before the interview (via their website, forums, etc.). Ask more thought-provoking questions that express your interest in other aspects of the company and position. Do your best to find out how the position you’re interviewing for will help the company grow, and what part you’ll play in that. That’s important stuff.

Come prepared. Bring your portfolio, writing samples, resume — all of the things that show who you are on paper. If you really want to impress, bring anything that really represents you and shows off your talents and areas of expertise. This could be in the form of stories, scenarios, whatever — get creative with it!

Don’t say negative things about a previous employer. Even if you didn’t have a great experience, never talk them down or bad-mouth them. It’s not an impressive quality. You could speak in a constructive way about things that might not have matched up for the two of you, but leave it at that. Keep it classy.

Show self-awareness by knowing what kind of work culture you belong in. Think of some examples of how this has or hasn’t worked out in the past. Picture yourself being an invaluable member of the team at the company, and be able to thoughtfully describe what that looks like.

Touch on weaknesses as challenges you’re willing and working to overcome. Say things like, “One challenge I might face with this job…,” or, “A

I admire this guy's pluck, but you might consider something more formal.

I admire this guy’s pluck, but you might consider something more formal.

challenge I faced there was…” Back it up with ways you plan to rise above it.

Network prior to the interview. Try to get to know people within, even if it’s through connections made via social media, blogging or LinkedIn. Approach someone at an event, or reach out about something neat they’ve been working on that interests you. Be bold. You’ll know what to do.

Make sure you’ve got excellent references lined up — and let them know they can expect to get a call. This is why it’s important to create and maintain lasting relationships that remain strong after your time together has ended. The time will come when you’ll need them to vouch for you, and it’s always nice if they’re sincerely interested in doing so.

Follow up afterward. You can check in in many ways: Just let the potential employer know that you felt the interview went well, that you enjoyed meeting them, and that you’re looking forward to hearing more. Good follow-up is usually something that can be applied to any industry, and practice makes perfect.

Be honest, savvy and professional. And making people laugh doesn’t hurt, either.

Knock ‘em dead!