How to Survive -- And Even ACE -- the Dreaded Job Interview!

By Joyce Huber

Whether you are just graduating from college and looking for your first job, or are going after your dream job, you have to pass the dreaded interview. This is the time when you have to sell yourself to your potential employer. Everyone stresses out about interviews. It's only natural because there is a lot riding on how well you perform in this important event of your career.

The interview is an invitation from your potential employer to meet and get to know each other better. You have already been chosen as a candidate for the job for which you have applied, and the purpose of the interview is to see if you are a good fit. The interview is not just for the benefit of the employer; it is a critical step for the employee as well. Why? As a potential employee, you want to make sure the job is indeed what you are looking for. You also want to know if you will like working for the company.


There are many ways in which potential employers can conduct interviews. Here are a few to consider.

Phone Interview

The phone interview is used commonly by larger companies who want to screen candidates in order to cut down the number of applicants who will be invited on-site for a face-to-face interview. It has several advantages for both employer and employee. The employer can use the phone interview as an economical way of identifying candidates who hold the most promise. It also gives the candidate an opportunity to have all their important documentation and notes right at their fingertips during the phone interview.

But make no mistake; the phone interview is just as important as a face-to-face interview. You need to be prepared and ready to answer questions effectively in order to pass the phone screening and make it to the next step, which is the face-to-face interview.


The most common type of interview is the face-to-face interview in which you meet, in person, with one or several people at the company. According to Entrepreneur magazine, this is still the most common interview technique. However, with this said, there are many different types of face-to-face interviewing techniques. Here are a few that are becoming quite common.


According to staffing specialist Robert Half, 6 in 10 employers today conduct job interviews via video. Technology has enabled more companies to conduct "face-to-face" interviews through video technology. It is far less costly than flying candidates in for on-site interviews, and it provides a virtual meeting venue for employers to interview candidates.

Candidates need to treat the video interview just like any other face-to-face interview. This means being prepared and professional. Companies may make their decision following video interviews, or they may narrow it down to two candidates whom they will invite for an on-site interview. Either way, it's an important interview.

On on One

The one-on-one interview means you will most likely be meeting with various individuals at the company one at a time. It usually begins with the HR manager who outlines details of the position. It can include team members with whom you will be working (they want to know if they can work effectively with you, so their opinion matters), then the department manager -- your potential boss. Depending on the job level, the interview can even include the company president.


Many companies use a very structured form of interviewing that is conducted by a panel of interviewers. Each one has a set of specific questions they will be asking. They often use a rating system that scores how well you respond to questions. It's a quick way for companies to collect information about the candidate from various individuals in the company, compare notes, and select the right person for the job.This type of interview can be very intimidating, which leads us to the next topic, how to ace the interview.


The best way to prepare for an interview is to prepare, prepare, prepare. First, you want to know everything you can about the company, and the position. Next, you want to think about what skills and experience you possess that will make you an excellent choice for the job. By combining these two steps, you are creating a "value proposition" for yourself, or reasons why a company would want to hire you. This will take some thought. Start by asking yourself:
  • What specific skills do I bring to the job?
  • What am I really good at doing?
  • What can I do better than anyone else?
  • Why do I want the job?
  • Why should you hire me?
These may very well be the type of questions interviewers will ask you anyway, so be prepared to give quick, concise, well-thought out answers. Include examples. This can be in the form of situations in which you were faced with a challenge, project or problem and solved it with excellent results. Be specific in your examples and deliver right-to-the-point information.

Other things to know about the interview
  • Be prepared for the "Tell me about yourself" open-ended question. Now, this doesn't mean they want to know everything that happened to you since the day your were born. They are looking for information that tells them what you are interested in professionally, how well you perform, how well you work with others, how well you work under pressure, your problem-solving skills, loyalty, dedication, and goals. In addition to your skills, accomplishments and accolades, they want to know if you will fit in with others at the company.
  • Be confident. If you have prepared well, it will be easier to show confidence during the interview.
  • Be yourself. It is important to rehearse your interview and be prepared, but don't come across too prepared to the point where you sound like you are reading from a manuscript. You want your interview performance to sound natural, not canned.
  • Be excited. Show excitement about the job and the prospect of working for the company.
  • Ask questions. Interviewers love it when you ask questions. Make sure the questions are relevant and demonstrate that you are seriously interested in the job.

Interviews, no matter how or where they are conducted, remain an important part of your ability to land your dream job. But be assured that practice makes, well, as close to perfect as you can get. The more you interview, the easier it gets. Really!

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