By Wendy Saccuzzo, Career Development Specialist at Riviera Partners & Director of Career Development at Women Who Code.  Follow me on Twitter @wendyhays11.

Whether you are breaking into the job market for the first time, or are ready to write the next chapter of your career, nailing the interview is always a crucial step in the process. Career Development Specialist & Community Development Manager, Wendy Hays shares her expertise on the subject in a detailed post covering “Interviewing 101.”

Pre-interview preparation is important – know about the company. Start with their website, current press releases, look up the LinkedIn profiles of the interviewers if you have that information, and see what Glassdoor.com says about what it’s like to work there.  Write down a few key questions you’d like to know more about.  A few generic but helpful questions for any interview include:

  • What is a typical day like in this role?
  • What are the expectations about accomplishments expected in the first 3/6/12 months of this job?
  • What do you like best about working here?

Now that you’ve completed your homework on the company, next you should know how to dress – should you wear a suit?  Or business casual attire?  If in doubt, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Many companies will coordinate the interview and send you an email with information on what to expect, how to dress, and who you will be meeting with – this information can allow you to feel more relaxed about what the interview will be like, so take a deep breath and soak that information in.

It’s important for all job seekers, not just recent college grads, to identify their skills and interests and be ready to verbalize them easily and convincingly. Consider these questions when evaluating what your key skills and interests might be:

  • In your past work experience, what are you energized by?
  • What gets you out of bed in the morning?
  • What would your last supervisor say is your biggest asset?

Once you have answered these questions, spend some time thinking about how you’d explain your competitive edge – why should they hire you over other candidates?  Be ready to sell yourself as the best candidate in a confident but non-boastful way.

Be familiar with behavioral interview questions, where you will be asked to tell a story about a time when you experienced a certain situation. Do so briefly and effectively, further convincing your interviewer that you are capable of the doing the job. Quantify whenever possible. Briefly tell the story using the STAR method: the Situation you were in, the Task you were faced with, the Action you took to get the job done, and the Result. By preparing a few key stories that back up your competitive edge and skills, you’ll feel more confident handling typical interview questions.

Finally, close the interview by asking for the job, if you feel like the role is a good fit for you. The interview is as much about them evaluating you as a potential employee as it is about you deciding whether you can see yourself thriving in the role with the company. Ask what next steps are, and when you get home, send a thank you email to your interviewers.

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