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The Nine Steps to Have A Successful Job Interview

The Nine Steps to Have A Successful Job Interview

Having interviewed literally hundreds of job applicants, I want to give you my best tips to boost your chances of getting the job you want. Some of this might be blunt, but I want you to know I’ve got your back! Here are the nine steps to succeed in your job interviews. 

1) Look like you have it together.

Studies show that when men interview women (even men who believe themselves to be champions of women), they first look at whether or not you appear put-together. Are you dressed appropriately? Do you sit up straight? Are you maintaining eye contact? Do you present visually as a person prepared to sell yourself and your credentials?

It turns out that over 90% of all the meaning we take from in-person conversations is visual. It’s not that what you're saying doesn’t matter, but if the way you look, sound, and move contradicts what you say, you won't be judged as credible.

2) Exude self-confidence.

Be engaging and what I call “infotaining” — informing while entertaining at the same time. Project a level of comfort with yourself. Remember that you don’t need to repeat what’s on your resume; the interviewer can read. If you are asked about your experience, don't convey standard, boring information. Instead, inject some enthusiasm, use a little humor, or tell a relevant story.

Confidence is not the same as arrogance. You're not testosterone-driven — just self-assured. And even if you're nervous or fearful, fake it. You need to show your true grit. Believe in your own abilities.

3) Never apologize or equivocate.

Don't qualify your answers, hedge your statements, or make excuses of any sort. Hunt down and kill all phrases like:

  • “I’m not sure, but I think…”
  • “I would have gotten a better grade if I….”
  • “I’m sorry I’m running late, but I …”
  • “I would have stayed at that job, but there was a ….”

Figure out ahead of time which issues on your resume or during your interview could trip you up, and decide how to handle them. Don’t fall on your sword. Just calmly and confidently explain why that issue will not hamper your performance at this new job.

[Related: Do You Think, Maybe, You Could Possibly Read This? If It's Not a Problem?]

4) Be well-spoken and articulate.

Make sure your tone and language match your interviewer and the situation. The way you talk to your friends — with slang, swearing, and street talk — have their place, but it’s not in a job interview (unless you have an amazingly cool person interviewing you).

Remember to be in the moment. Listen to the interviewer’s question instead of zoning out, replaying your last answer in your head, or wasting time regretting that you didn’t say something differently.

5) Mute your internal critic.

Silence your demons. You need to start acting and risking. Women suffer from self-doubt and are afraid to fail or to seize opportunities. Tell yourself that you deserve this job. You are qualified for this job. Even if you don’t meet all the requirements, you are proactive and can figure out what you don’t know.

If you must indulge your internal critic, do it after the interview, when you decompress with friends.

6) Take credit for your accomplishments.

My experience and a host of research studies confirm: A man will explain his success by pointing to his skills and qualifications, while a woman will credit external factors for her achievements.

It’s all well and good to say teamwork-oriented things like, “I lead a really great team.” But never say something like, “I had a lot of help from others” or “It was really the team doing it, not me” or (worst of all) “I got lucky.” Career success often depends on advocating for yourself. You didn’t get lucky; you kicked ass.

[Related: Be Extraordinary: 5 Habits of Successful Salespeople]

7) Do your homework.

Buckle down and prepare. Before the interview, the least you can do is Google the company and read the latest media reports relevant to its business, such as current market factors, scandals, sales trends, changes in technology, and executive turnover. Doing this not only helps you ask knowledgeable questions, but can also help you decide if you really are suited for the job and if you want it.

Also, if you know who your interviewer is ahead of time, run a search to find out more about his background and interests. This is admittedly tough, but you may be able to leverage whatever experience you have — and your network — to find some connection with him.

8) Become a storyteller.

Resumes are usually pretty generic. Frankly, they’re usually boring. So, when the interviewer asks you a question about your resume, make it come to life. If you have “real” experience in the industry where the job is offered, tell a story about how you got that experience. Even if you’re right out of school and have never worked a "real" job, showcase some aptitude that you do have.

If you're talking about a school project, volunteer work, or an extracurricular activity, use it to show that you have leadership skills, people skills, intellectual curiosity, or problem-solving abilities — all good things to demonstrate to the interviewer.

9) Lighten up.

Don’t take yourself so seriously. Yes, you want this job, and yes, you deserve it, but it doesn’t define who you are. Try not to be too stiff or too formal. Stay professional, but keep things natural and real. If you're too uptight and rigid in your demeanor and responses, you won’t come off as someone likable enough to work with, or who can assimilate into the company’s culture.

Now, go get that job!

[Related: Four More Job Search Myths Busted]

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Linda Smith focuses on high-stakes litigation that goes to trial and has been named a “Top Woman Litigator” by both the National Law Journal and the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Throughout her 40-year career, she has worked on some of the biggest “bet the company” cases on record. These days, her focus is on developing a platform to help other women unleash their power and become leaders in their chosen fields.


Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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