Mormon Channel Blog

Self Reliance: Interviewing for Success - Tips from Professionals

March 28, 2015

If the idea of a job interview scares you, then you’re not alone.

David Reeve, manager of the LDS employment resource center in Lethbridge, Canada, says that fear about job interviews is one of the most common roadblocks he sees in his work as a career advisor. But, he explains, “One thing I love about interviews is that you can see people get noticeably better. That’s because interviewing is a skill. And like any skill, when you practice, you get better.”

Kayla Bills, a recruiter for the Khan Academy, says that there are several things anyone can do to prepare to land the job they want and deserve. She and Reeve share their insights below on how to be better for your next interview.

Do your research

Bills recommends that every job hunter spend some time reviewing the company’s website, learning about their products and mission, and reading any recent articles in the news. “You should have a strong opinion on why you want to work for that specific company. Is it because you are passionate about their mission? Because you use and love their products? Because there’s someone on the team you really admire? Whatever it is, make sure you know the reasons why you want to join their particular company. Your interviewer will be looking to see both your knowledge of and passion for their company,” she says.

Put time into it

An interview isn’t something you can cram for the night before. It takes time to put together a strategy that is specific to the needs of the company and shows your qualifications for the position.

Bills suggests going through the job posting, line by line, and coming up with a few examples that you can share from your past work experiences that demonstrate the responsibilities and qualities listed in the posting. She says, “Make sure your stories are relevant and show the impact you made. What are some projects you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of? Be sure to write those down if they are relevant to the role.” And Reeve adds, “Your interview answers need to assure the hiring manager that you can do this job better than anyone else they are interviewing, and so you need to really understand the job and the company.”

Reeve adds that it is also important to take time to reach out to your network. “Do you know anyone who works for the company? If so, you might be able to gain additional information about the job and how you can be a competitive candidate.”

Prepare a “Me in 30 Seconds” statement

Most interviewers will start by saying something like, “Tell me about yourself.” If you can answer that question well, it sets the tone for the rest of the interview.

So what is the best way to prepare for that question? A “Me in 30 Seconds” statement, says Reeve. This includes:

  • A brief personal introduction that includes your career objective.
  • Several specific accomplishments that prove you meet or exceed the requirements for that position.
  • A few character traits or adaptive skills that set you apart from typical applicants.

In order to talk about all of those things in under a minute, you have to practice. Decide what is most important to include for this company and how best to say it.

Practice answers to common interview questions

The majority of interview questions are variants of each other. So preparing answers to common questions pays off, because they will most likely come up in some form during the actual interview.

Start by writing down the points you want to include in each answer. Then ask a friend or professional in your field to help you role-play. This is a great opportunity to make mistakes when they don’t count.

Also, be aware of any red flags in your resume, and have well-thought-out answers that settle your interviewer’s concerns.

Remember to Smile

Bills says that this one seems obvious, but not everyone remembers to do it. “Our team recently interviewed a candidate for a job they were qualified for, but they weren’t friendly and they seemed to have a negative attitude during the interview. Needless to say, we gave the offer to someone else. Remember, no one wants to work with a grump! Make sure to smile and to be friendly to everyone. People want to be surrounded by happy and positive co-workers,” she says.

Have questions to ask your interviewer

Most interviewers will end by asking, “What questions do you have for us?” Reeve shared, “In the years I spent as a human resource manager, so many people wouldn’t have any questions. People totally overlook this part of the interview, but it’s a great opportunity to impress the interviewer.”

Prepare questions that will help you determine what will make you successful within the position and if this is an organization that you want to work with. Avoid asking questions that may reflect poorly on you such as specifics about hours, benefits, and pay.

Bills shares, “Some of my favorite [end-of-interview questions] are: What will be the most challenging part of this role? What skills are needed to excel at this role? and What’s your favorite thing about working for this company?”

Google check

Even if you pass your interviews, there’s one more step in this interview process that’s very likely to happen. Bills says, “The first day I started my job, my CEO asked me about a recent trip I took which I hadn’t yet told anyone on the team about. I asked how he knew, and he said that he saw it on my Facebook page. He explained that he Google searches everyone before giving them an offer. So, be aware that employers will Google search you too! What will they see on your Twitter, Facebook, personal blog, or LinkedIn page? Make sure you only post things online that you are comfortable with employers seeing (because they will see them).”

Pray with all your heart.

As President Hinckley said, “The Lord would want you to be successful.” He cares about you and your interview. Prayer is powerful, and putting your trust in the Lord will help you succeed.”

“Interviewing,” Reeves shares, “is like playing a sport. There is always an element of anxiety before you get onto the court. But once you’re playing, all of that practice helps you know what to do.” Although you still might experience fear before a big interview, when you prepare well, you can be confident in your performance.

To talk to a specialist at the nearest employment center, or to read similar career tips, visit ldsjobs.org.