How to Succeed in Job Interviews

College and high school seniors, graduation day is almost upon us! What a happy and exciting time. But lurking behind that eagerness to rush out into the world is that old nagging reminder—it says, “You need a job. Like, yesterday.” But how to make that happen? Turns out our editorial intern Matt is going through the exact same steps as you…

Don’t worry, this won’t be one of the questions they’ll ask you. Probably.

How To Land a Job in 12 Easy Steps

Getting a job or pursuing your dreams in a career field is often the talk of many people who are looking towards their future.  As a senior in college, so much of the conversation amongst classmates is about what everyone is going to do once they graduate.  These students are beginning to put their future into focus and consider what they want to do for the rest of their life.  There’s a lot of pressure that accompanies this.  How is a 22 year old supposed to know exactly what they want to end up doing for work?  The problem with so many people’s approach is that it is results-oriented rather than process-driven.  Everyone often focuses on the result of landing that job or working in their desired industry rather than breaking it down and taking the appropriate initial steps to naturally get there.

Preparing for job interviews is a productive first step in advancing a career.  Most jobs in today’s world require applicants to interview for the position.  This can be daunting to many people, particularly those who are more introverted.  Following these twelve easy steps will ensure you dominate that interview and land that job that will begin your journey in the professional world.

1. Use your resources.  “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”  If your friend’s dad has your dream job, don’t be afraid to reach out to him and talk about your future.  Most adults are open to helping out young and upcoming graduates.  Simply talking or getting lunch with people can vastly expand your network and professional options.

2. Do your research.  Once you have an interview set up, do a little bit of investigative work on the company and the position you’re applying for.  You may not know exactly what you’re getting into, but having an idea can help you better prepare for the interview (if you have no idea what you’re applying for, you’re probably wasting your time).  Also, review who you’ve been in contact with and their names and positions, and those of the interviewers as well if you know who they will be.

3. Get your mind going.  This is particularly important if you’re interviewing in the morning (and even more important if you’re not a morning person).  Review your resume and some key points that you want to mention during the interview.  I like to pull out my Rubix cube for a couple minutes to get my improvisational side going.  Watching the news can provide topics to discuss if your conversation goes beyond just your employment.


Okay, bow tie might be overdoing it a bit.

4. Dress for success.  If the person you’re in contact with didn’t tell you what to wear, it’s not a bad thing to ask.  You should be at least as formal as the people you’re interviewing with, and probably one step more formal.  Numerous studies have been published that have found that people are perceived as more competent and knowledgeable when dressed in more formal attire.  Dressing up also makes you feel better about yourself and increases your confidence.

5. Be early.  Even earlier than you think.  Take into account your walk to the car, traffic, finding the correct building, parking, and walking to the correct room.  Stressing yourself out and raising your heart rate before your interview won’t help your nerves or confidence.  You want to be slow and steady.

6. Be respectful to everyone you encounter.  This is a great rule of thumb to live by, but pay particular attention to this on your interviewing day.  Treat everyone with respect from the parking attendant to the secretary at the front desk to the CEO.  You never know who is watching and might recommend you to your employer.  Leaving everyone with a positive impression feels good intrinsically too, and is reflected in your optimistic attitude.

7. Be yourself.  People can see through fakes.  If you act naturally, you will feel more confident and less tense.  If you are yourself and it didn’t work out with that company, then it wasn’t a good fit and things probably wouldn’t have worked out well in the long run.  With this being said, don’t be afraid to do a little bragging.  Be tactful about it, but essentially you want to sell yourself and your past to your interviewers and what you have to offer in the future.

8. Display confident body language.  There are many factors that people take into account during encounters, both consciously and unconsciously.  Your attire, facial hair, make-up, and body language are all things that are not said, but can have just as big of an impact on another’s impression of you.  Hold your head high, take your hands out of your pockets, lean forward when listening, and use your hands when speaking.  These things will make you more likable and engaging.  Beware of the “steeple”, however.  It can make you seem arrogant or haughty.  If you’ve ever seen the show “Shark Tank” and observed Kevin O’Leary, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

9. Differentiate yourself.  There are likely other candidates interviewing for the same position.  How are you going to set yourself apart from them?  You want to appeal to the interviewer in a way that will help them remember you and think you are the best fit for the job.  For example, you might mention you speak another language, have lived in another country, or have had a previous job where you learned something valuable.

10. Ask questions.  Paraphrasing and asking relevant questions throughout the interview reflects that you understand what’s being said and are interested.  Most of the time there will be a point when your interviewers ask if you have any general questions.  Ask any pending questions you have about the position, but also ask questions about the interviewers.  People love to talk about themselves.  This is an opportunity for you to listen to the backgrounds of professionals and their career paths, while also seeming curious and engaging to them.

11. Thank the interviewers.  Show appreciation that you were invited to come speak with them and tell them one thing you were surprised or happy with about the company or position.  This will leave them with a positive last impression of you as you walk out the door.  But before you do that, shake their hands.  Body contact is a strong connector that has been proven to facilitate cooperation among humans dating back to the ancestral times.

12. Follow up with an email.  A thank you email a couple days after your interview puts you back in the company’s mind and shows you are still interested in the position.