6 Strategies for Acing Your Next Job Interview

May 29, 2024Events

Despite all signs pointing to a strong economy, many workers are still struggling to find a job. So what gives?

The reality is that, since 2023, companies are hiring at a slower rate and putting candidates through more rounds of interviews before making offers. Now more than ever, it’s critical to know how to “wow” a hiring manager by making that first interview or screening call count. 

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. Across my three decades in PR consulting, I’ve coached countless individuals and companies on how to talk to the media, manage crises, and craft a successful communications strategy. This behind-the-scenes experience has taught me exactly what it takes to ace every interview—be it with the press or a potential boss. 


6 Interview Strategies Anyone Can Learn

It doesn’t matter if you’re up for an entry-level job or an executive position. Interviewing like a pro boils down to six simple strategies.


1. Do your homework

You’ve applied for a job and scored an interview. Now what?  

Since you’ve likely already looked at the company’s website, start by digging into its other press materials (such as interviews with executives, press releases, or news stories) as well as reviews on Glassdoor and Google. The goal is to better understand the company’s scope, work culture, and customer base. 

Doing this research up front will enable you to show off that knowledge during the interview itself. You’re sure to make an impression if you know that the company has a 5-star rating on Glassdoor or an overwhelming number of positive Google reviews from clients. But beware of potential biases here—you’d never want to bring up a disgruntled employee’s grievances. 

From there, make sure that your skills actually match the job. Maybe you applied for a position after glancing at its description, but that’s not enough! LinkedIn may be helpful here, as it can automatically cross-check your qualifications with a job’s requirements, but that’s assuming your profile is exhaustive and up-to-date. If not, you risk interviewing for—or worse, actually getting!—a job that you’re not qualified for. 


2. Dress to impress

During the pandemic, the approach to workplace fashion changed considerably. With so many of us stuck at home, every day came to feel like “casual Friday.”

But that was then. Now, it’s as important as ever to make a good visual impression. Be mindful of the company culture at the organization in question, of course, but when in doubt, lean toward more professional attire. Being slightly overdressed won’t kill your chances of getting hired—it’s showing up in a t-shirt that will.    

If you’re worried about overdoing it with your interview outfit, take Coco Chanel’s evergreen advice and remove one accessory or piece of clothing before leaving the house or sitting down in front of your computer for your interview. 


3. Curate your online presentation

One of the lasting effects of the pandemic is that many interviews are still conducted online. And while a remote interview might be less exciting than an in-person one, it will save you time on commuting—time that can be used honing your online presentation.

Remember: whoever is interviewing you will be scrutinizing everything on their screen. Avoid a boring or overly flashy background (everyone knows you’re not at the beach)! Instead, go for a simple, well-lit, “home office” feel: a nuanced bookcase and framed diplomas or awards will speak louder than words. 

Finally, be aware of your body language: sit up, stay energized, and do your best to look “at” the interviewer from time to time. While it may feel a bit unnatural, making eye contact by looking directly into your camera conveys professionalism and respect. 


4. Respect your interviewer’s time

Speaking of respect, never forget that being on time is being late. If you’re interviewing in person, plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early. You can knock out some emails or burn a few minutes on TikTok—just don’t waste your potential boss’s time. 

If your interview is remote, the same general rule applies: make sure that you’re in the digital waiting room first so that your host isn’t left hanging.   


5. Develop a communications strategy

Once the interview starts, it’s time to communicate why you’re the best candidate for the job. 

My advice on how to leave your interviewer without any doubts stems from my years of experience training executives and employees to talk to the media. While the audience for a job interview is admittedly different, impressing them also means having a smart communications strategy in place:    

Prepare your talking points. This means prepping and painting a clear picture of how your experience, skills, and passion match the job in question. You’re going to have limited time, so be ready to tell your story at the drop of a hat! 

Use the “bridging” technique. If asked a question you don’t quite know the answer to, use it as an opportunity to pivot—or “bridge”—back to what you do know, i.e., your key talking points about why you’re right for the job. For instance: “While I haven’t run into that exact type of situation with a client, I do have experience [insert your talking points].”

Ask engaging questions. Even though it’s “your” interview, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all about you. Prepare relevant questions for your interviewer that will make them excited to highlight the company’s strengths or even their own experiences. 

Don’t forget about non-verbal communication. First, try to limit any nervous ticks or habits that might garner unwanted attention. You don’t want your interviewer to tune you out as they wonder why you keep tapping your fingertips on the table or keyboard! Second, bring along a copy of (or link to) your resume or portfolio. Leaving your interviewer with these materials will keep the conversation going even after you’ve left the room. 


6. Know when (and when not) to follow up

As your interview comes to an end, don’t be shy about asking when you’ll hear back about next steps. Then:

  • Within 24 hours, send a brief follow-up to thank your interviewer for their time and consideration.
  • If you haven’t heard back in the expected timeframe, reach out and reiterate your interest in the position. 
  • If you’re ultimately rejected, respectfully ask for feedback that might be beneficial for future opportunities.


Use these Interview Strategies—and Be Yourself

As you put these strategies into practice, always remember to be yourself. There’s no faking authenticity, and any interviewer worth their salt will know if and when you’re being genuine. 

That’s not to say that you should leave everything to chance! Instead, take control of what you can—your homework, professional presentation, and communications strategy—and trust that your unique qualities will get you over the line. That way, even if you don’t get the job, you’ll rest assured that you’ve done all you can and that the right position just hasn’t quite found you yet. 

Of course, no list of interview strategies is exhaustive, particularly given how quickly the world of work can change. What surprising challenges have you faced in a recent interview? And how did you overcome them?

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