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How to ace a job interview: three steps to success

A job interview is one of the most unpredictable experiences you can undergo during the course of your career

While other job-related hurdles – such as courses, exams or appraisal meetings – are structured and generally reliable, interviews vary wildly from one to the next and leave you with little idea of exactly how to prepare. Read on for a three-step plan for interview success.

It goes without saying that you should research the company, its business, significant personnel and up-to-date news; however, there is a certain amount of ad-libbing you will need to do once you find yourself in the interview. To alleviate this pressure and take the stress out of your interview preparations, devise a plan that will allow you to remain in control while you are coming up with the right things to say.

Your potential manager is the ideal candidate for this interview approach, which focuses specifically on what the manager is looking for; for this reason, the HR manager or recruiter may not grasp the need in the same way.

Step one: identify the hiring manager’s need

One of the most important parts of your research prior to the interview is identifying your potential manager’s need. Why do they need to fill a vacancy? Is there a gap in their strategy, or are they struggling to sell products? Is one of their departments lacking, or are they in need of quality senior management?

If you can pinpoint a specific issue in your research and develop a solid working theory, you are in a much stronger position to shape your answers to combat the manager’s need.

Step two: delve into the sticking point

If you are confident you know what the interviewer is after, you should prepare to ask some subtle questions that will confirm your suspicions. If you can get the hiring manager to discuss their frustrations and concerns, you can take control and tailor your interview to their situation.

Wait for an open-ended question and the opportunity to make some queries of your own. State your understanding of the business and ask for a little more detail on where the manager is looking to take it next. This should encourage them to mention their sticking point and give you the chance to directly respond with how you would tackle it.

Step three: impress with your prowess

Be careful not to jump on the opportunity with too much gusto. Rather than telling the interviewer you will be the best person to solve their problem, impress them with a real-life example of a time you did just this in another situation. This is likely to have a far greater impact than unsubstantiated words.

You will immediately have the interviewer asking themselves whether you are the answer to their problem and moving ahead to placing you in the job in their mind. This technique puts you in the driving seat, transforming this experience from a simple question-and-answer session to a successful interview.

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