7 Ways to Ace Your First In-Person Interview


ou aced your phone interview, and why not carry that success with you into the in-person, first-round interview, which is right around the corner? Follow these seven steps and you’ll be ready to enter the room with even more confidence.

Get Your Duds Ready

A good rule of thumb is to dress slightly more formally than the role you're applying for. Not exactly sure what the style norms are at your prospective employer? No problem—it's totally normal to ask your recruiter or point of contact about what the expectations are when it comes to workplace attire. But the bottom line is that you never want to be underdressed.

Talent tip: Prepare your outfit ahead of time, pair it with your brightest Duchenne smile and you'll be good to go.

Print Out Copies of Your Resume Beforehand

This is a simple step that candidates often overlook. Just because a recruiter read and approved your resume doesn't mean your potential manager—that is, the person interviewing you—had a chance to review it, too. Besides demonstrating preparedness, bringing your resume to the interview provides all parties with a common point of reference and often helps structure the conversation, to boot.

Talent tip: Bring in several copies of your resume. You never know how many stakeholders you're ultimately going to meet with, and it's good to leave each of them with a keepsake to help remember you.

Prepare Your Answers to Common Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral interview questions—questions designed to reveal how you've handled various work situations in the past—are almost unavoidable for job seekers today. Chances are, you're probably familiar with questions like these:

  • Have you ever had a stressful situation at work? What did you do to solve it?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you had to resolve a conflict with a co-worker, client or vendor?

The best responses to these questions start by framing the challenge, explaining what happened and then contextualizing it as an opportunity for learning, improvement and growth. Bear in mind that how you answer these questions matters, too. You need to remain calm and unflustered. After all, this—you answering questions from strangers—is itself simulating a stressful workplace situation, so keeping cool counts.

Talent tip: Familiarize yourself with common behavioral interview questions and rehearse—but don't memorize—your answers. You want to sound like you're speaking off the cuff, not reading from a script.

Stay 100% Positive

Even if your last boss was a narcissistic tyrant, complaining about him or her—or anyone else from your past professional experiences, for that matter—is a non-starter. It doesn't just make you sound petty and unprofessional, but worse: The interviewer might even decide that you, and not your former boss, are the one who's difficult or problematic to work with.

Talent tip: Keep the focus on what you've learned from challenges, and how those experiences have enabled you to continue to grow and develop professionally.

Brainstorm Relevant Applications, Ideas or Solutions

Take some time before your first-round interview to brainstorm potential applications, ideas or solutions that might be relevant to your role or function with the company. For instance, if you're applying for a sales role, think about the kind of messaging that might drive sales, the types of buyers the company is likely targeting and how you might respond to objections during a sales pitch. If you're looking at a more technical position, like a role in data science, think of possible applications of your expertise that might add value to the business.

Talent tip: You can use Twitter, LinkedIn and other sources to find thought leaders in your particular field. Consider the topics that they're talking about and try to develop your own position that relates to the role you're applying for.

Actively Engage With Your Interviewers

That's right, interviewers—plural. At many organizations these days, even first-round interviews involve conversations with multiple stakeholders. The goal is for each party to get a feel for the other. Don't be surprised if you're introduced not only to your potential manager, but also to the entire team you'd be working with. Watch the way co-workers interact with each other to try to get a read on the culture of the place.

Talent tip: You should feel empowered to ask a lot of questions—and to ask about your role as well as that of your interviewer. Questions dealing with pain points tend to get expansive answers. For instance, can you tell me what's the biggest challenge you currently face in your role? You might also ask your interviewer about his or her personal connection to the company, and what it is that made the person come on board. These questions may help you establish more of a personal bond with your interviewer.

Clearly Convey Your Interest

Eager to demonstrate that you're a compelling candidate who is clearly interested in the role and company? It's easy: Be prepared. Research the history of the company as well as the latest developments—for the latter, you might set up a Google alert for the company, or search PR Newswire to stay up to date. Then, work this knowledge into your answers. Being prepared will also inform the types of questions you ask, making it possible for you to have a richer conversation.

Talent tip: A company's mission is going to dictate a lot about the culture of the company, and the kind of employee it wants to hire. At Johnson & Johnson, for instance, Our Credo influences everything that we do. So make sure you've got the mission of the company down pat before showing up for a first-round interview.

Looking to join a company that's not only on the cutting edge of healthcare technology, but actively working to make a positive impact on the lives of people everywhere? Check out all of the opportunities available at Johnson & Johnson today.

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