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Winning the Interview Beauty Contest

by Randall Craig on May 22, 2007

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, New Job, Promotion

Tagged as: ,

How can you do better at job interviews? It’s not about being “lucky”, nor is it about winning a beauty contest, it’s about preparation, presentation, and perseverance:

  1. Fish where the fish are: Only apply for those positions where you have a strong chance of success. Energy wasted with pointless applications can best be applied prepping for interviews where you’re in a position to win.
  2. Research the company and the industry: Learn about industry issues, the corporate structure and priorities, and the jargon. You’ll look more like an insider if you do.
  3. Research the corporate culture: Is it aggressive and cut-throat – or supportive and nurturing? The interviewer will be on the look-out for a match – and so should you.
  4. Identify the problem that they are hoping to solve: If you know why they are hiring for the position, you will be able to quickly describe your experience to solve it.
  5. Rehearse. Like any skill, the quality of your interview will get better with practice. But don’t memorize your answers to so-called standard questions – customize them for the situation.
  6. Know your stories: Every phrase on your resume should connect to an example story that is relevant to the interviewer. If you can’t recall the details behind the words on your resume, then you have no right being there in the first place.
  7. Get a good night’s sleep: This will improve your processing power during the interview, and help prevent that “tired” look.
  8. Dress appropriately and be well-groomed: Learn about the standard workplace attire. Don’t dress too informally, or this will reflect poorly on you. Yet don’t dress too formally, or you will appear haughty – and you may embarrass your interviewer. If you can, use a mirror for a last-minute check before you go in to the interview.
  9. The interview starts in the elevator: It continues with your introduction to the reception, and in the walk to the interview room. It ends when you are safely out of eyeshot (and earshot).
  10. Answer the first question well. Usually, the first question is “tell me about yourself”, and is designed to make you feel comfortable in the interview. Don’t give too detailed a history, but highlight the accomplishments that you are most proud of, which are also relevant to the situation.
  11. Follow-up. Whether it be a simple thank you, a more detailed elaboration on an issue, or several questions that you need answered, following-up shows that you are engaged in the process, and remain interested in the outcome.

This Week’s Action Item: Did you think that these tips only applied to a job interview? They are relevant every time you need to sell an idea to a colleague, supplier, or client. Look on your calendar for your next important meeting, then go through this list to make sure you’re in a position to win.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)





Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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