Interviewing skills are the emotional and tactical techniques that make job seekers more effective when interviewing for a new position. These skills are important to gain, just like the technical skills and workplace skills you need to perform well in a position.
By developing interviewing skills and practicing them throughout your professional journey, you can feel more confident about any upcoming interview and experience a more fulfilling career.
Continue reading to learn the following interviewing skills (detailed instructions below):
Before the interview:
Mastering your emotions
During the interview:
Presenting your qualifications
After the interview:
Following up with your interviewer
Reflecting on your interview and refining your methods.
Much of successful interviewing has to do with being able to align your unique gifts and qualifications with the position you’re applying for. Write down your personal and professional strengths, including the accomplishments you’re most proud of, your values, and your job experience. Reference your resume, cover letter, and the details of any prior projects, if needed.
Self-preparation can put your own strengths at the forefront of your mind and make it easier to articulate them in a conversation.
Thorough research into the company you want to work for—including company reviews, its products and services, and its competitors—can help you determine if the career path will be a good fit.
Scour everything you can find online about the company and jot down your thoughts on what it might be like to work there, as well as any questions you may have about the company culture and the role. Write down specific ways you can contribute to the company and be a part of its mission, beyond what you may have outlined in a resume or cover letter.
Even with thorough preparation, the experience of anticipating a job interview can feel both exciting and stressful. Mastering your emotions, as well as how your nervous system reacts, can offer several benefits:
Staying calm and relaxed during the interview process
Feeling assured of your abilities, regardless of the outcome of the interview
Focusing on making the best decision for your career
To build emotional resilience for your job search, review your self-preparation and company research notes several times. Doing so can give you a quick confidence boost in the days, hours, and minutes leading up to the interview.
To gain control of your nervous system and reduce jitters on the day of the interview, try deep breathing. Get in a comfortable position and slowly inhale, filling your lungs with air. Hold your breath for five counts or longer, and then slowly exhale until you release all the air. Repeat this exercise several times.
Arrive early to the interview to avoid any anxiety about making it on time. During the interview itself, remember to maintain slow, deep breaths and sit tall and upright. This can help you while discussing your qualifications for the position.
For every interview, you’ll want to arrange all the details of the experience, from how to travel to a location or join a Zoom meeting to deciding what to wear. Working on your logistical planning skills can make your interview process run more smoothly, freeing up more energy to focus on your career goals.
To practice this skill, gather logistical details from your interviewer as early as possible and list out the arrangements you’ll need to make, including transportation, parking, internet access, childcare, and more.
Brushing up on your general communication skills can help you to establish a rapport with your interviewer as well as showcase your qualifications effectively. Verbal communication skills include choosing your words carefully and describing your qualifications clearly. Nonverbal communication skills include smiling, nodding, and making eye contact.
Practice good communication in advance by observing your body language in front of a mirror. In addition, ask a friend or family member to do a mock interview with you, asking you common interview questions that you practice answering based on your prep notes.
During the interview itself, it’s okay to speak slowly and deliberately, and even pause to consider how you’d like to answer the interviewer’s questions.
Your introduction at the beginning of an interview can help to set a positive tone for the rest of the conversation. After greeting your interviewer and thanking them for the chance to meet, be ready to deliver a short professional introduction or elevator pitch, especially if the interview says, “Tell me about yourself.”
A good elevator pitch will present who you are as a person, your qualifications, and your enthusiasm for the position, among other details.
You can prepare your introduction or elevator pitch in advance of the interview, using notes from your other preparation steps, and rehearse it several times so that you can deliver it naturally.
Once the interview is in motion, you’ll likely be answering a few behavioral interview questions so that your interviewer can evaluate your qualifications. Questions might start with something like, “Tell me about a time when you solved a problem,” followed by, “What solution did you come up with?” Questions like these give you the opportunity to talk through different professional scenarios that prepare you for the position you’re considering.
Your thorough self-prep and research will definitely make it easier to master this skill during the interview. You can also use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure responses to interview questions or even explore, in advance, answers to potential questions.
There will be moments during an interview when the interviewer will do more of the talking, particularly to explain the position you’re applying for, describe the company’s goals and initiatives, and answer any questions you may have.
Listen for details that can help you decide if this position is for you. Make eye contact and nod to signal that you understand the interview. Jot down notes to capture the crux of what the interviewer is saying so that you can reflect on it after the conversation.
Asking your interviewer questions is a great way to demonstrate your interest in a position and get the information you need to make an empowered career decision.
To practice this skill, write down your priority questions in advance of the interview and have them handy for quick reference. As you jot down details of what the interviewer shares with you, look for opportunities to form new questions on the spot.
In the hours following your interview or the very next day, write a follow-up email to your interviewer to thank them for the conversation. Doing so can set you apart from other candidates.
This skill is easy to master when you set a goal of being thoughtful and brief. Include basic information such as your enthusiasm for the position, a short summary of your qualifications and ideas for what you can contribute to the company, and a polite request for updates on the hiring process.
If you don’t hear back from the interviewer in several business days or by the date your interviewer indicated that updates would be ready, follow up a second time.
Read more: How to Write an Interview Follow-Up Email: Guide and Samples
Another skill to practice after an interview is to reflect on the experience and refine your methods, even if you get a job offer. That way, your interviewing skills can become rote, making it easier for you to create exciting new career opportunities.
Here are some examples of areas for improvement:
Using the STAR method to tell even better stories about your professional history
Conducting more thorough research on a company
Coming up with more insightful and pointed questions about a position you’re interested in
Now that you know the skills that can help you along your career path, it’s a good idea to put them into practice for your next interview and beyond. Start with the self-preparation and research skills and set aside ample time to explore as many details as possible. The insights you gather from these steps will provide a firm foundation for employing the other skills.
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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.