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Knowing how to prepare for your job interview can be overwhelming. While you can’t anticipate every possible question, there IS a simple formula you can follow for job interview success.

Here’s how you can lay a firm foundation for answering many job interview questions:

First, Do Your Research

Know the company, know the job description, and know the people that you’re going to meet so you can make meaningful connections and ask informed, thoughtful questions.

Use your time with the hiring team to ask things about the company that can’t easily be found on the website to show that you’ve done your homework.

For example, “Outside of what I could gather online, how would you describe (what it’s like to work here / the type of person who succeeds here / the direction of the company).

Practice A Solid, Succinct Answer To “Tell Me About Yourself”

You’ll be asked “Tell Me About Yourself” in some way, shape, or form. And if not in this interview, it’ll probably be in the next. Practice getting this down to one minute or less, and make sure you hit key points about your background that sync up with the job.

Know Your Top Strengths and Weaknesses

Think through your strengths most relevant to the role. Make sure they’re genuine and part of who you are professionally. Write these down and get comfortable talking about them. Then practice a couple of times, out loud.

Have ready some quick examples to back up each strength.

For example, instead of saying “I’m self-motivated,” say, “I’m highly self-motivated. In fact, recently our budgeting system wasn’t enough for the sophisticated reporting we needed to do. I took the initiative to do some research and found an alternative that was 25% cheaper that integrated with our other software and could be implemented within 6 weeks. Now we can produce quick turnaround reports in whatever form our customers need.

Keep it brief and quantify as much as possible—the same as you would in your resume.

Think of how you’ll answer “What is your greatest weakness?, and how you’re addressing that weakness. An employer wants a self-aware employee who recognizes their own challenges but most importantly what they’re doing to improve.

Make sure you avoid cliches like “I’m a perfectionist” or “I care too much” and choose something that is genuine, but not central to the job.

Prepare for “Why Are You in The Job Market?”

Other versions of “Why are you in the job market?” are “Why are you looking?” or “Why are you leaving your current job?”

Your response about the circumstance around your search can reveal much to your potential employer. Are you casually looking? Or have you sought out this company and excited and serious about this job?

The company wants to know that you’re interested, so come out and say what attracted you to the job and why you’d like to work there. Don’t assume that just because you applied and are in the interview that the employers know you’re serious.

Be Ready to Share Your Stories!

Using the job description as your guide, categorize the major required areas of expertise, such as Team Leadership, Budget Management, and Marketing Strategy.

Then within each category, think of 3-4 success stories you can share that exemplify your abilities. Frame those stories using the Situation Opportunity Action Result (SOAR).

“Why Should We Hire You?” Your Big Chance to Sell!

Your response to “Why Should We Hire You?” is your chance to shine as the interview wraps up. Avoid generalizations about your skills and attributes. Instead, have a well-crafted response reiterating your key selling points that address issues specific to their company. And if you’re not asked, you can volunteer the information as you ask for the job.

If you apply this formula for job interview success, you’re well on your way to positioning yourself to win the interview—and the job offer!

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Enjoy biweekly updates from the career sphere and receive my favorite resources and insights for your interview success and job search. All delivered in a short, easy-to-digest series!