Most people feel nervous before having a formal interview, but if you prepare using the following tips, you will have the best interview possible and you will know that you did the best you could to get the job you want.

interviewIt’s All About Reassurance

Even though you might feel nervous and worried, your interviewer is also feeling nervous and worried. Think about that. What if you are hired on their recommendation and you turn out to have problems? What if you do not fit in with the people who are already working there? What if you don’t have the skills to do the job? Employers are worried too. It is your job in the interview to help the potential employer feel reassured about your abilities and your skills as well as your personality. How can you do this most effectively? Memorize this question: “What is your idea of the perfect candidate for this job?” Ask that question in your interview at the earliest possible time. Then, for the rest of the interview, you can use that list of traits as your road map to help the employer understand how you are what they are looking for. It’s your job to reassure the employer throughout the interview that you have what it takes to do this job.

Know Yourself

You need to know enough to convey who you are and what you are looking for in your career and in your job. It is important to be able to articulate your goals. The employer wants to know that the goals of the workplace align with your goals for your career. They usually want you to stay on the job, especially if they are going to invest in training you. Even if you are using a temp agency that will send you out to do contract work, they want to know that this arrangement satisfies your career goals.

Use Anecdotes to Reassure and Convince

When lawyers prepare for trial, they know they need to have compelling evidence for the jury. The same is true for your interview. In an interview, the compelling evidence is anecdotal. Stories about what you have done in previous jobs, how you have handled difficult situations, and how you have thought through problems and came up with solutions are very helpful in convincing the listener that you are what you say you are. Just as juries love to see and hear the evidence, interviewers want to learn about you through the stories you tell them about your past experiences on the job. Be ready with those stories. They help prove you are what you say you are.

Be Ready to Advocate for Your Candidacy

At some point in the interview you will be asked “Why should we hire you over the competition?” or something similar to that. You want to prep the answer to that question before you go to the interview because it is a wonderful opportunity to advocate for yourself. Most people make the mistake of answering that question with generalizations about themselves. “I am a hard worker.” “I have experience in this field.” Without more, those are not convincing statements because they are unsupported. You need to add the anecdotal evidence that proves your claims. And if you can, you want to put the “cherry on the top” of that advocacy by relating the things that other people have said about you. This shows that what you said is verified by others. Or put the “cherry on top” by using numbers to prove your campaign was successful, or that you truly do have the extensive experience you say you do.

Be the Expert on You

Know everything about your background, including the situations or experiences you have dealt with in the past. In the throes of the interview, some people can lose their train of thought. Carefully review everything on your resume so that you can speak confidently on all the topics that you have researched in the past that appear on your resume, the numbers of campaigns you have done, the names of the people you worked with on the sales team, or the amounts you raised for the non-profit you helped. Know the dates and the progression of your career, and explain how each move you made was part of the plan you have for your development. Okay, I know that sometimes the plan you start with in your career changes over time. That’s fine. Just help the employer understand that evolution. The killer is when you jump from one thing to another or drift into and out of jobs without a sense of purpose. Employers get nervous about that. Come to think of it, you should be nervous about that too.

Have Smart Questions to Ask

Employers know that everyone has looked at their website. You don’t get points for doing that. But if you have dug more deeply in your research, and especially if you can say why you really want to work with this particular company, that makes employers feel good. It’s kind of like dating and marriage. An employer wants to know why you like them enough to want to get hitched. And just like your future partner, the employer wants to know that you really know them well. So do your homework. Read up on the people and the company using Google, LinkedIn, articles in trade magazines, and other sources of information, like people who used to work there. Then, you can be ready with questions that show you know.

Look Like You Fit In Already

If the workplace is conservative, dress conservatively for the interview. If the workplace is casual, don’t dress for corporate America because that can be a turn off. If you do not know what to wear, check out their website to see if there are images on the website that give you a clue. Talk with people who work there or used to work there using LinkedIn. If you are desperate, just go stand outside the workplace for a few minutes one day to see what people look like who go in and out.

Check Out the Culture Before You Sign on the Dotted Line

This is important. You really want to know that you want to work at this place. You want to know that the people you will work with, especially your boss, do not fall into the crazy category: screamer, micromanager, belittler, mean girl/guy. Check this out by finding people using LinkedIn who used to work there and calling them up (do not do this online) to get a confidential report on what it’s like to work at this place. People will share the unvarnished truth about their workplace if you assure them it is confidential and you really mean it.