How to Ace the Interview and Top Your Competition
Meeting with potential employers can be an overwhelming and stressful part of any job search. Fortunately, there are ways you can prepare for your next job interview and shine brighter than others who are competing for the same position. Whether you are being considered among five or 50 applicants, you must bring out your best self to get your best shot.

If you are a Grantham University student or alum, take advantage of our Career Services offerings, which can guide your transition from the classroom to your next professional role. Our career planning professionals, along with Grantham’s student advisors and other resources, are here to help you succeed. It’s all part of our comprehensive approach to student support.

And if you’re still thinking about going back to school and dreaming about the day you’ll walk into your first big job interview, we suggest connecting with a member of Grantham admissions team to discuss your work experience, education history and goals. It’s a great way to help determine if our university is a good fit for you.

But for now, let’s just take a look at some great ways you can cover all of your bases before you start interviewing for new positions.

Step 1: Start with the Basics

Once you land a job interview, start researching the company. Even if you are familiar with its mission and what will be expected in your role, there could be news or other insights that might be useful conversation topics. With multiple applicants, you need to stand out. Be prepared to tell your interviewer all you know about their business. It will show you are engaged and interested.

On the day of your interview, give yourself plenty of time to make the drive and account for traffic delays and such (GPS can help gauge travel time). Being late may raise a red flag, even if you are usually punctual. Get plenty of sleep the night before, so you can  be at your best in the interview.

You’re likely familiar with that old saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” As you submit your cover letters and resumes (Career Services can help you tailor those, by the way) for open jobs, get your nicest interview outfit(s) dry-cleaned and ready. But avoid perfume or cologne, since those scents can be strong and even distracting, especially in small spaces.

Finally, bring several copies of your resume and two black ink pens with you. Hiring managers are certainly busy and may not have your resume handy in the moment. Plus, often you may interview with more than one person. Having more than you may need in this case is better than being underprepared.

Step 2: Prepare for Typical Questions 

Once you arrive at your interview location try to relax. You’ll have a lot on your mind, so take a deep breath and just be yourself. Keeping a positive mindset and be honest with your answers in the interview. If you are asked about previous jobs and companies, reflect on learning experiences and growth.

Quick Review of Common Questions:

Why are you a good fit for the role?

This is where that initial research will come in handy. Discuss ways you could impact the company’s current and future goals, and the relevant skills and abilities you bring to the table.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

While it can be tough to review yourself, employers know you are human. They know everyone (even themselves) makes mistakes and has some bad habits. Focus on areas of change that could also be viewed as strengths, such as taking too much work home or not taking enough time off to recharge.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

As you near the end of the interview, questions will likely be about the future. Have you already thought about how you could make a long-term impact for this employer? Are there higher-level positions or long-term initiatives that interest you? This is the time to prove you are ambitious and strategic about your success.

Step 3: Be Ready with your Own Questions

“What questions do you have?” is typically the last question interviewers ask applicants. Being ready with questions of your own shows initiative and can help you better understand if this job is right for you. Below are a few questions you should ask in every job interview.

Quick Review of Common Questions:

Can you describe your company culture?

Many companies go out of their way to stress a positive culture. Work is often seen as an extended family, where picnics, volunteer opportunities and other activities are common perks of the environment. However, every business has its own culture, and this question can clue you in to how happy you might be on a day-to-day basis.

Do you offer career advancement or additional training opportunities?

Many employers want to hire workers who are eager to get to the next level. Let them know you are interested in long-term advancement and making a significant impact. Sometimes, employers offer paid training or tuition reimbursement for programs geared toward continued learning in the workplace.

How do you develop positive working relationships?

This question should provide a peek into the interviewer’s management style and what he/she expects from employees. Also ask how he/she prefers to communicate when there is a misunderstanding, or a conflict that needs resolution.

What is the next step?

Your last question should always be about the next step in the hiring process. The interviewer’s answer may give you an idea of how much you are being considered; this could be particularly important if you’re told to expect an answer very soon. If the next step is an interview with a higher-level executive, research the professional experience of that individual. (LinkedIn is a great resource.) You may also politely ask if it would be okay to follow-up with a phone call or email.

Aim for the Next Professional Level

Now that you’re armed with tips to ace your next interview and top your competition, it’s time to start your job search. Or maybe you’ve decided to pursue career advancement with your current employer. In either case, an undergraduate or graduate degree or certificate with Grantham University can help you reach your goal. With more than 50 programs available, entirely online, there’s a world of opportunities out there.