Master the Art of Interviewing

You might be pretty good at job interviewing. You may have even searched for information on how to make yourself stand above the crowd. In today’s competitive environment, that’s a good start, but it’s not enough.

The key to success lies in four steps you can take before your next interview. They will help you answer the tough questions better, decrease your nerves, and increase your chances of getting the right job for you. These steps aren’t revolutionary; however, most people skip at least one. By completing all four, you’ll be on your way to giving your strongest interview ever.


Step 1: Know Yourself

Sound simple? It might appear easy, but this first step involves critical reflection and self-awareness. In fact, this step demonstrates a key skill that employers are seeking these days: emotional intelligence (EI).

EI is often described as the ability to identify, assess, and influence one’s own feelings and those of others. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018 lists EI as a skill experiencing “an outsized increase in demand” in organizations worldwide.

How do you hone your emotional intelligence? Take the time to think about your feelings and how they drive your actions. Reflect on your true priorities. Be aware of your emotional responses—and those of others—and how your actions affect those around you. Listen attentively. EI helps you with interview preparation and every part of the job search and the job itself. Many people might call EI a “soft skill,” but Paul Binkley, executive director for career and professional development for University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, calls it a “success skill.”

Catherine Stace, career services manager for the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, agrees. “Employers often tell me that they don’t select candidates uniquely on their technical skills,” she says. “They connect performance abilities to employees who have personal and social awareness skills.” Both Stace and Binkley encourage job seekers to demonstrate EI competencies to an employer throughout the interview process. They also emphasize the importance of EI for navigating increasingly global and complex work environments.

By tapping into your emotional intelligence, you can understand and articulate your values and priorities. Your values can be lofty (e.g., I want to make a difference) or very practical (e.g., I want a short commute). They can include an interest in developing specific skills, making more money, being entrepreneurial, or working on a particular issue. Once you’ve identified your values, you need to prioritize them. Which ones are most relevant to your job?

After values and priorities, you’ll want to consider strengths and interests. Jan Fischoeder, head of career office Berlin, IUBH University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, Germany, says, “You should consider your own strengths and weaknesses and how to present them. The crucial point in conveying your weaknesses is to present them as challenges or dynamic strengths. For example, if one has a problem delegating work to team members, it’s good to mention that one knows about this problem and has developed an open communication strategy
to meet this challenge.

“This, in turn, makes you come across as open to learning and having a thought-through personality.”

Make a list in each category: priorities, values, strengths, and interests. Focus on those relevant to your job search and, more specifically, your upcoming interview.

Using your four lists, you’ll be able to develop questions for your interviewer. Questions demonstrate your knowledge of the organization. They also show you’re seriously interested in the position, have taken initiative, and understand how you could fit in the organization.