How to Ace an Interview in Three Acts

You’ve spent countless hours searching online, scrolling through social media feeds, even scanning the local classifieds—and you think you’ve finally found the one. You type up a perfectly crafted response expressing your interest and before you know it, you’ve been asked to come in for an interview. Now what?

Hunting for a job can be overwhelming, and having to pitch yourself can seem especially daunting. Luckily the interview process plays out fairly similarly across industries: find the job, meet the employer, then either celebrate or try again. So to help you prepare (and ace!) your next big interview, we’ve broken down it all down into three easy-to-follow acts.

Act I: The Setup

What’s the first thing that happens in a story? You get to know your main character and all the important background info that’ll help move the narrative along. At this point, knowing your own details should be second nature, but be sure to do your homework and learn about the company you’re interviewing for—what they do, their goals and values. And above all else, pay attention to the people who are interviewing you. If you can, look up their LinkedIn profiles or portfolio sites in advance to get a sense of who they are—who knows, it might lead to an interesting icebreaker!

Quick tip: Pack your bag with extra resumes and business cards the night before. And while you’re at it, throw out those loose candy wrappers, receipts, etc. to avoid pulling trash out along with your resume.

Act II: The Confrontation

Don’t worry, this isn’t a duel at high noon! Instead, think of the interview as the part of the story when anything is possible. Give yourself a leg up by anticipating common interview questions beforehand, but also remember that potential employers are hoping get a better sense of who you are, so don’t be afraid to show your personality! And if you’ve done your homework and researched the company background, you shouldn’t have problems asking questions that come to you naturally. But just in case, here are a few to keep in your back pocket:

• What is a typical day like in this role?

• What is the company and team culture like (including accessibility)?

• How did you get your start?

• What’s the most challenging part of working here?

• When do you expect the position to be filled?

Act III: The Resolution

Before leaving with a smile and a firm handshake, ask how the interviewer would prefer to receive any follow up questions (and how to say thank you on the sly). It’s 2016, and unless you absolutely insist on it, you don’t have to send a handwritten thank-you note. An email will do, just make sure to send a separate note to each individual who you interviewed with.

And that’s it! All that’s left to do now is be patient until you receive an answer. Depending on the length of the hiring process, it can take a few weeks to receive a response. Want to stay top of mind? Send a follow up note that includes an interesting article or anecdote that calls back on your previous conversation.

For additional resources about careers, check out more of our articles on work.

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Marcia Denardin
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Marcia Denardin
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