If you’re gearing up for that second (or third) job interview and are freaking out just a bit, sit back and unclench your jaw for a sec. We’re here to help. While career guidebooks and college courses tend to place a major emphasis on nailing that initial screening, follow-up interviews are just as key. However, there’s often less information out there about how to make sure it goes swimmingly. That’s where we come in. We’ve spoken with three experts who’ve weighed in with interview tips. They discuss how to shine during a longer, more thorough interview, in which you’ll be asked about more than your general interest in the company and basic skillset. Read on. Then, get ready to impress.
Do your company research ahead of time
It’s time to enlist your BFF, Google. “You should be able to talk a bit about the organization and what is important to them,” says Miriam Salpeter, founder of Keppie Consulting. “This information should be readily available on their website.” It’s smart to then use your findings to shape your talking points on the day of the interview. “If their website mentions ‘teamwork’ on every other line, you’ll want to mention something about your commitment to working on a team,” Salpeter explains.
Look into your interviewers
If the company included the names of those individuals you’ll be meeting with, use this information to your advantage. “Some good places to start are their company website (if they have a profile), their LinkedIn page, and a Google search for any news alerts or publications,” advises Samantha Simmons, an executive legal recruiter at LHH Recruitment Solutions. She formerly worked in BigLaw. “There is no need to memorize their CV, but jot down a few things that interest you, whether it’s something you have in common or a new initiative that you’d like to ask them more about.”
Study your resume
Review your resume. Your interviewers are certainly going to be giving it a close look! “Make sure you are comfortable talking about anything and everything on there,” Simmons notes. “Then, take it one step further and decide on three highlights that you want to make sure you are communicating to your interviewer.” These may relate to a specific degree, credential, or work accomplishment, she explains.
Use the following technique when answering questions
You’ll want to practice answering questions at home ahead of time. Salpeter is a proponent of using the PAR technique. “State the problem, describe the action you took, and explain the result,” she says. “When you incorporate all of these—briefly, you aren’t writing a book—you have the best chance to succeed.”
Don’t worry about sounding scripted
Spending the evening before your interview going over all the key talking points you plan to cover is never a bad idea. “People would rather hear stories than simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses,” explains Sho Dewan, career coach and founder at Workhap. “Practice your storytelling skills and hook the interviewers’ attention in the first few lines of the story.”
Simmons agrees. “Even questions that address a gap in your knowledge are an opportunity to share.” Suppose your interviewer asks you about your experience handling a certain task. If it’s something you haven’t yet encountered, use your reply to indicate how you’re a quick learner, Simmons suggests. “Instead of just saying ‘no’ and leaving the interviewer with a negative impression, you have shifted the conversation to your highlights,” she explains. “You should be in control of what you are emphasizing about your background at every turn.”
Don’t forget to leave room for a little improvisation
You do not want to sound robotic during your interview session. Reading the room is important. “Job interviews are all about connecting and vibing with the person sitting across from you,” Dewan adds. “Too many people get too focused on sounding perfect and memorizing their scripts when it would be ten times more beneficial to go into their next interview with the goal of making a new friend.”
Asking your interviewer some questions
It’s fine to come prepared with a few go-to questions. However, don’t be afraid to improvise a bit based on your specific conversation. “While it’s helpful to have questions in mind, you don’t want to sound like you are asking the same boring, perfunctory question to every interviewer,” Salpeter explains. One thing you definitely will want to inquire about every time: What lies ahead? “Always ask about the company’s timeframe and when you can expect to hear about the next steps,” Salpeter adds. “Be sure you know the name and contact information for your interviewer so you can send an email thanking them.”