We all took that one business class in high school. You know the one: The teacher showed a lot of videos and taught you business tips from a textbook that was printed sometime in 1978.
When you got to the chapter on interviewing skills, you might have even internalized advice like, "If the interviewer asks you about your greatest weakness, say something that's secretly a strength."
But that was 1978. And now, in a hyper-competitive job market, you're going to need a lot more than "Uh, I guess you could say that I'm like, too much of a perfectionist?" to nail the interview and snag the job.
Our advice? Put the textbook down and check out the best interview tips that you've never heard.
1. Schedule a Morning Appointment
Whenever you have the choice, choose a morning interview. Yes, you'll have to schedule 9 alarms and then put your phone across the room so you're forced to get up. But instead of psyching yourself out all day and then feeling sick because for some reason, you thought a pre-interview burrito was a good idea, you'll get the interview over with first thing.
Also, less chance of a sweaty handshake.
2. Have an Agenda
Hey, that interviewer there? She's not a criminal mastermind who has captured you and is now torturing you for answers. Honestly, she's probably just looking to hire the best person for the job so she can go home and watch DVR'ed episodes of Catfish like everyone else.
So get in control of the interview by having an agenda. Know what you want out the appointment and the questions you want to ask ahead of time. Scrawl them out on a napkin in a list form. Knowing some of the stuff you want to mention and ask ahead of time lets you take the lead for some of the appointment.
Oh, nice leadership skills you have there.
3. Get Comfortable
We don't mean you should like, wear sweats and sit in a beanbag chair. But you should shake off some of your nervousness by getting comfortable with your interview. Nine times out of 10, an interviewer prefers an interview that is a conversation between colleagues, not an awkward school dance.
It's OK to get a little personal and crack a joke. Being too stiff makes it hard for the interviewer to picture you as part of the organization.
4. Answer the "Weakness" Question Properly.
Guess what? This isn't an interviewer's first rodeo. Answering that you "Work too hard" generates a massive internal eye roll.
Instead, answer in a Problem/Solution format, drawing from past experiences. Instead of saying you're "too perfect," try this instead: "In my last position, I sometimes struggled with remembering details. I learned that I function better when I take detailed notes and create a project outline before I begin a task."
Instead of loading the interviewer up with a bunch of cliches, you're giving clear evidence that yes, you have a weakness. But you also take steps to prevent that weakness from affecting you at work. Boom.
5. Ask This Question
When the interviewer asks "Do you have any questions for me?" (and she will) skip the cheeseball answer of "How did I do?"
Every interviewer will say "Great." Even if it's a complete lie.
Instead, ask this question: "Do you have any concerns as to whether or not I can fill this position?"
Like, don't write it on your hand or anything, but ask some incarnation of that question.
Why? Because it shows tons of forethought and maturity, and gives you a chance to refute some of the negative thoughts that the interviewer might have. If she answers "I'm concerned about your lack of experience," you can talk up your volunteer work or your enthusiasm and quick learning skills.
See how that works? Yup. Genius.
Interviews can be seriously nerve-wracking, but if you know you have the skills, take a deep breath. Remember that you're interviewing the organization just as much as the interviewer is testing to see if you're a good fit. Instead of handing over the interview reins and giving up all control, ask intelligent questions, answer truthfully and remind yourself how lucky the company would be to have you on board.
So stop, wipe your palms off on your pants, look yourself in the mirror and repeat after us: You got this.
PS Want to know how to BOMB an interview and possibly end up in jail? Click here for the worst job interview tips ever.
By Jae — Hamburger Condiment Consultant
Hey! If you liked this, enter your email below and we'll send you helpful career advice directly to your inbox. No spam. Neverever.Sign up for Raise Your Flag to explore awesome careers and find a job you can have without a degree or diploma.