How to: Succeed in an Interview

Here comes another article in our "How To" series! There are many steps to take when preparing for an interview, but let's divide it up into 5 simple steps to remember in order to knock your interview out of the park.

1. Know your resume.

If you've landed an interview, chances are you have a pretty solid resume already. If you don't, check out our articles on Resume Templates, Writing a Resume, and our Resume Outline. These are just the tip of the iceberg on the many articles we have on resumes, so feel free to click through the rest of our blog!

Back to the interview. You absolutely must know the ins and outs of your resume before you go into any interview. Almost all interviews will start off with something like "Tell me about yourself" or "Walk me through your resume." This is a prompt for the interviewer to get to know more about you, but don't just memorize your resume. Know what you have on it, talk through your experiences listed there, and end it with why you're there interviewing today.

As an aside, I had one line on my resume talking about my "Interests and Activities" and an interviewer asked me about one random activity I was a part of a while ago - something I did not prepare for, so I floundered through my answer. Know the ins and outs of your resume, but don't sound robotic while going through it!

2. Know your stories.

It's common practice nowadays to answer most behavioral interview questions with an anecdote related to one of your past experiences. The approach I've found to be most successful is to really reflect on your experiences to find times where you showed leadership or other qualities you think are necessary for the job. Know those stories, and apply them to times where the interviewer asks things like "Tell me about a time you worked in a team" or "Tell me about a time you showed leadership".

These are just examples, but there are a few things to do to answer that question as best as you can. First, note that these questions will come as follow-up questions from you talking about your resume. Thus, make sure you have a relevant story from each experience. Second, use the STAR method when telling your anecdotes - it's explained below.

  • Situation - Outline the situation and provide background information.
  • Task - What's the problem at hand? What needs to get done?
  • Action - What did you personally do to help solve this problem?
  • Result - What were the results of your actions?

Try to keep these answers between one and two minutes - you want to provide enough detail and information, but don't ramble.

3. Know your interviewer.

Do your research before the interview! I cannot stress this enough. If you have the name of who will be interviewing you, look them up on LinkedIn and Google. If not, know everything you can about the company you're applying to. Browse their website, check out the Glassdoor reviews, and ask around if you know anyone that works there.

The more background information you can gather on the interviewer and the company, the better. It's the little things that matter. Bringing up something small that they said on their website that stood out to you goes a long way in that it shows you're truly interested in the company and that you know what you're getting into. And definitely don't forget to bring something to write on! A professional docket always impresses.

4. Know what questions you'll see.

Depending on the job you're applying to, you might be given technical questions. For example, in consulting there are case interviews, in investment banking or corporate finance there are technical questions, and in wealth management there are things like stock pitches. Just search online for advice or guidance on specific technical questions if you have an interview in a certain field.

For the most part, though, interview questions are behavioral. As mentioned above, these are questions that ask you about your past experiences or ask you about your personality, such as "Tell me your biggest strength and your biggest weakness" and other personality-type questions.

5. Have good questions ready to ask at the end of the interview.

Almost every interview will end with "So do you have any questions for me?" And after a lot of reading on the topic, it seems that it's pretty common for people to just say "Nope, don't think so. Thanks so much for your time!"

This is what you should not do. Since you've done research on the firm or the person, you should absolutely ask them about their past experiences or their time at the firm - especially if either of these topics came up in the interview. There are many go-to questions to ask at the end of interviews, such as "What's your favorite part about the job? or "What's the most challenging part about working at the company?" Try your best to personalize these questions and ask things you're actually interested in knowing about - besides salary and hours, of course. Maybe as them to walk you through a typical day to get an idea of what the job is actually like!

All of this information and more is covered in our Backlight Interview Guide, which should be made available for you all to snag within the next couple weeks! It's an 18-page, all-encompassing outline that tells you everything you need to know about absolutely crushing an interview.

And as always, if you need any help with your resume, feel free to check out the rest of our site where we have a ton of options that can all illuminate your accomplishments!