The Key To Killing Job Interviews

Published on:

You got invited for a job interview? Read more about how to kill job interviews and convince them you are the best candidate for the position.

You’re valuable, so you should look at job interviews as a two-way street. Take this opportunity ask questions. Grill your potential employer a bit, learn if this is truly the place and people you want to work for. I know this from being on both sides of the table, and let me tell you, when a candidate grills me about my company, it’s refreshing. It shows initiative, interest and confidence; all very positive attributes for a candidate.

Start thinking that the company needs you as much as you need them. Make them work for you as well, and do this by asking intelligent questions that demonstrate your confidence. These are some questions I’ve used to better understand the position, and discover angles to really impress those across the table from me.

The Job Description

A job description on a website doesn’t explain the position. At best it summarizes a role to the best of the HR person’s understanding. Also, the person interviewing you is asking questions that fill in their blanks, not yours. So take a moment to clearly understand the position before you try and sell yourself to someone.

I had an interview for a role as a digital communication advisor. Sounded big and complex, and needed proficiency in content writing, strategy, social media, analytics and Microsoft Word (Why is proficiency in Word still a thing? Can you write? Check! Can you do it on a computer? Check! You’re in!) When I discussed the position further, it turns out all they wanted was a glorified social media coordinator and were only willing to pay bottom dollar for it. That opportunity obviously didn’t strike me as a high priority.

“The job description interested me of course, but I was hoping you could go a bit more into detail about what you really are expecting from this position?”

A Day in the Life

If you can’t envision what an average day in the position looks like, you might be stepping into something you’re completely uncomfortable with. Don’t assume that the interviewer will decode your personality and expectations in an couple hours and completely understand what will make you happy. Be forward and build a solid vision of what your life will look like.

I worked for a company doing sales, and cold-calling was an important part of the job. They hired a very experienced account manager to come in. Big deal experience with a big name organization, and she up and quit within a week once she learned there was cold calling. Clearly, she didn’t understand the role and the company didn’t communicate it well enough, and it wasted a lot of people’s time.

“So I understand the job position, but maybe you could walk me through what an average day will look like?”

The Reason You’re Here Today

The business you applied to has a need that they’re trying to fulfill. Take a moment to really understand what is driving the company to hire people now. Not only does this help you better understand the company, but it will help you better sell yourself for the position. Growing companies are often looking for leaders who can build a strong position and fill in the blanks where there isn’t an established process. If someone is being replaced, you want to understand the consequences of performance and how the company evaluates people.

I had an interview for a content position, somewhat of a hybrid writing/project management spot. When I asked them why they were talking with me, they opened up about how they were growing rapidly and needed someone to direct the content process. I quickly changed the conversation from being about my writing competency to more about my management and strategy skills. Sure enough, it was the kind of dynamic skill set they weren’t sure they needed until I brought it up.

“So why are we talking today? Why is your company hiring for this position?”

Value Statements

This might seem loose or hippy, but I believe that companies should have clear and accountable values. These should exist at all levels of the organization and help drive a positive corporate culture. If you can identify values in yourself (like sharing, kindness, personal growth, passion, etc.) a company should be able to explain their’s as well.

Sitting in a big boardroom with the President and a couple owners, I was undergoing my second interview for a really exciting position. I spoke to my enthusiasm for the industry, story-telling philosophy and even brought forward some criticisms I had for their past work. I did this because in the first interview they really focused on corporate values, so I incorporated them into my second discussion. Sure enough, the President was blown away that I hit on so many of their corporate values. If he wasn’t impressed, I would have known their value statements were nothing but hot air, and I would have lost interest.

“What do you look for in people besides their skill set? Are there values that your company holds very high?”

Path of advancement

It’s not about being overly ambitious or greedy; it’s about understanding motivation. I want to know where I can go, how other people in the past have grown and is there a plan for me in the future. This tells me that I’m important to the organization and that if I work hard, there is a reward for my labour.

I like to come right out and ask about raises, promotions and reviews. One company talked about yearly raise schedules, quarterly performance discussions and monthly personal development meetings. It wasn’t about micro-managing, but helping employees reach their desired place in their professional careers and rewarding people for hard work. This really impressed me and it told me that every employee matters and they were willing to work with each on an individual level.

“Tell me, what is the next position up from here? How do you evaluate people and are there incentives based on my effort?”

I hope this helps eager job seekers take more control of their careers. Remember, you want the right job, and you have to take the onus on yourself to discover what is right for you.


Sharing is caring, so please share this post. Thank you!