The #1 Secret to Interview Success

When you’re job hunting, it seems like advice is everywhere—from blog posts and articles, to books aplenty. Your friends, family, and colleagues may also weigh in, solicited or not, with their opinions and suggestions. In fact, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a job hunter is how to filter through all the information to find the advice that works for you.

Typical interview advice tells you things like:

  • Be prompt
  • Dress appropriately
  • Make eye contact
  • Sit up straight
  • Smile
  • Bring extra resumes, and pen and paper to take notes
  • Prepare good questions to ask the employer
  • Send follow-up thank you notes

As a jobseeker, these are things you have likely heard before. However, when it comes down to it, the most important thing to keep in mind during an interview is that it’s all about the employer.

At first this might be tough to wrap your head around, because if you are searching for a new job, then common sense might tell you to make yourself standout as a candidate by explaining all of your experience and qualifications (i.e. make the interview all about you). But what you have to remember at the end of the day is that organizations are hiring for specific positions to fulfill clear needs or gaps that they are currently experiencing. This means you need to show them how you can fill this gap or meet their needs by keeping your interview responses employer-focused.

To keep your interview responses employer-focused, it’s your job during an interview to:

  • Formulate your answer with the organization in mind
  • Focus on how your skills can contribute to meeting the employer’s needs
  • Tell them how you can help them meet their goals
  • Express how your experience demonstrates your ability to do what the position requires
  • Ask questions that show your eagerness to contribute to their team and be successful
  • Not ask too many what’s-in-it-for-me type questions (e.g. salary, benefits) unless they bring it up during first.

You now know the #1 Secret to Interview Success, so now it’s time to conduct your employer research and prepare. UMUC has several great tools at your disposal to help you with both your research and interview preparation. Career Insider by Vault provides access to resources such as company reviews, industry information, ratings, rankings, and extensive collection blogs, articles, and downloadable guides.

For assistance with interviewing, UMUC offers two great virtual tools found in CareerQuest:

  1. InterviewStream allows you to record yourself answering sample interview questions to self-evaluate your skills,
    and
  2. Quinncia uses advanced analytics to provide feedback to you, which includes a printed transcript of your responses plus an evaluation of your speaking style, speed, and facial expression.

As a reminder, businesses and organizations exist to fulfill a mission or purpose. All of their hiring is done to meet staffing and organizational needs, so by focusing on the needs of the employer during an interview, you can demonstrate your ability to meet the challenges of your desired position. By making this change in your interviewing mindset, you can have a tremendous impact on your interviewing effectiveness and job search success.

To learn more about how to successfully interview, please watch my webinar The #1 Secret to Interview Success webinar available on CareerQuest.

Ann Martin is a career advising specialist at University of Maryland University College where she has worked for more than five years. She holds a master’s in mental health counseling from Bowie State University.  As a mid-life career changer, she feels uniquely qualified to assist adult students in transforming their lives and finding their place in the workforce.

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