We surveyed 60 members in the Become A Social Genius group and asked them to how to crush a job interview. Here is what they had to say.
Before we get into the list, the most important of all is not to freak out during the interview for any reason, like these people:
1. Ask questions. I am always taken back when I do an interview and the candidate just sits there and answers questions but doesn’t actually have a conversation. Your inability to converse JUST with the person hiring you is a red flag! (Though I went against this when hiring developers aka the robots in my office who code my website and though it doesn’t effect their work, I literally can only stand 1 minute of conversation with them before I have to immediately leave the room haha)
2. Wear a properly fitted suit, posture matters.
3. If it’s a phone interview. Treat it just like a face-to-face interview. Wear the suit and use good posture. This will come across over the phone. The one difference is stand while talking on the phone. You WILL come across better.
4. Research the company and be prepared to ask questions about the company and position you are interviewing for.
5. Be prepared to answer tough questions like:
a) What was a failure and how did you recover from it?
b) What’s your greatest strength?
c) What’s your greatest weakness?
6. Be honest.
7. Relax. Just like approaching women or anything else, calm and collective gives you big points.
8. Find a connection with the person your being interviewed by that is non-business related. It can sports you like to play, alumni, places you have traveled, etc.. People like people that are similar to themselves.
9. Don’t bullshit an answer you don’t know. I would always ask a trick question when I interviewed candidates to work for me. I wanted to see if they were honest and had integrity. If they answered, “I don’t know but I will research it” then I knew I could trust them. If they gave me an incorrect answer then I knew if a project was running late or we had a major customer issue then they would potential lie to cover it up or worse give me an incorrect answer that would make the situation worse.
10. Make sure you don’t screw up any technical questions that could be considered necessary for the job. Study in advance.
11. Have specific examples ready about things you’ve done, successes, failures, etc. I always ask for specific examples and if you can’t come up with them you’re done. Don’t talk theory and tell me “what you would do” or “what I always do” as anybody can bullshit that. Give me a specific example of when you actually did it.
12. If it’s a professional interview, don’t talk about how much you drink, party, go out, like to just sit at home and watch football, etc, no matter how cool you think the interviewer is. Had this happen to me recently… Guy obviously thought I was cool enough to say something along the lines of “well on my free time I love to get way too drunk and pass out in my sweats after football”. He seemed solid before this.
13. Don’t badmouth previous employers, don’t ever make excuses for your failures and blame other people. Can’t tell you how often people give me some failure that was “their bosses fault” or “the company’s fault”. Own up to your own failures, don’t blame anybody else, and don’t act like you’ve never fucked up.
14. Understand how you can immediately come in and provide value. While I know there’s always a ramp up period, I don’t want to have to deal with dead weight for a while
15. As we all know, an interview is won way before you walk in or get on the phone. Cliche but true. What it is not obvious is how much and in what ways you can over prepare to raise your chances and completely kill it.
16. Get first-hand intel: Contact current employees. Several of them. How to do it is an art in itself. This will calibrate all of your assumptions, expectations, value proposition and overall story. If you get a current employee on your side, they will give you golden tips that make all the difference. It’s like cheating. For example: I reached out to 12 folks from my company’s office in Austin through Linkedin before my interviews. Only one answered. This person invited me to a football game and mentored me. GOLD. Another example: I reached out to a friend of a friend of a friend who had a connection in Spain (through Linkedin) that worked in HR over there. I spoke with this person and GOLD. I spoke with folks that are doing the same thing but for other companies and asked them for advice. For example, I met with a senior manager of the competition and invited her to lunch. GOLD.
17. Apart from using first hand intel in an interview, watch X-Factor, America’s Got Talent, Miss America, etc. You need a STORY and you need to be PASSIONATE about it. All of the above comments are great and will grant you a shot. It tells them you can provide value. Now, if you want to beat the competition who is better on paper, you need to convince them about how much you want it and why. Take your time to connect your what your company does and the role to your life/professional goals and past experiences, education, skills, hobbies, etc.. This means RESEARCH –yourself and the company/industry. You need to align all your past experiences to the job. All events led you here. Learn their vocabulary, their concepts and incorporate them in how you describe your past and you view the world. It has to make soooo much sense that you are the ideal candidate. When you do this exercise (part of your preparation), something magical happens: even if it is a bullshit job, you will get excited about it and you will convey passion naturally during the interview. It’s real. NOBODY conveys passion, by the way –it’s amazing how many candidates are not really invested. When one that does comes along, it’s stands out.
18. Here is an adaptation of a cover letter I have used in the past. Note that this was meant to be sent between first and second interviews which gives you extra legit points. It seems long but it’s necessary. It’s a sales pitch. Every paragraph is important and leads to the next. Note that you will not get a response in the majority of the cases which is normal. That’s why you spam this..
My name is David. I hope all is well (nice touch before going right in). I came across your profile on Linkedin when searching for marketing associates working for Walmart in Smallville (play by play). Your experience with the United Way Campaign caught my attention (connect if you can –don’t be cheesy and when in doubt, avoid this part). I am having an interview with Walmart for the marketing associate position in a couple of weeks (answers why you are contacting them –what came before was a warm set up). I am very excited about this opportunity (conveys you are a human being and you are cool –people like excitement). Walmart’s culture aligns perfectly with my personal and career goals. This position will allow me to apply my expertise in marketing and public relations: I have an marketing degree with a minor in graphic design (this paragraph conveys the reason why your request is important to you -without going deep-, that you are invested, and why this person should care). Matt (drop their name when making the ask –it’s more personal), I wanted to ask you if you could kindly (you have manners and know how to ask politely) share with me any advice you may have to better prepare for my interview (not “for the interview” which sounds like you are trying to sneak advantage –“prepare for” means you are putting in the work to being with and take it seriously). It will consist of two business cases, walking the interviewer through my thought process, as you know (call their help-a-bro mode by connecting–this person also went through this. They also need to know which interview this is.) I would greatly appreciate any tips you may have (you are conveying that his small effort will have a big impact).
Thank you very much. (Powerful to convey gratitude –“thank you” is also safe . “Thanks” is too typical and weak.)
Best regards, (formal but not too much)
David Doe (last name or not depends a lot on the vibe of the person you are contacting and the company’s culture –you make the call and, when in doubt, include it).
(the person will probably not be comfortable telling you anything that can be traced back –it’s like taping them so you need to give them your number but not directly because it’s weird. You put the email first. Email allows the call or meet up to be set up).
19. Don’t be late, dress to impress, exude confidence, don’t be weak, don’t sound weak, Don’t curse, be concise with your words, be calm, being fake is not necessarily a bad thing – it just tells me how much you want the job, Don’t “challenge” your interviewer, do make eye contact.