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10 interview skills that’ll help you land your dream job

November 2, 2022 - 12 min read

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What’s an interview skill?

Face your interviews like a pro with these skills

What to do when the interview is over

When you’re the interviewer

For the future

It’s hard to feel prepared for job interviews. 

Reviewing your resume and practicing answers to mock interview questions doesn’t replace the pressure of sitting in front of a hiring manager.

And if you’ve already struggled through a handful of interviews with no offers extended, it might be time to admit that your interview skills could use some improvement. 

Job interviews aren’t handed out to just anyone. On average, candidates only receive interview opportunities for 1 in 6 applications they submit. That means when you do get an opportunity to chat with a recruiter, you have to make it count. 

To prepare you for your next interview, let’s go over how to have good interview skills, what these look like, and 10 interview skills worth perfecting.

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What’s an interview skill?

Interview skills are the practices and actions used to prove to a recruiter you’re the best candidate for the job. It’s all about how you interact with the recruiter, both verbally and nonverbally, to convey that they should hire you. Some examples of interview skills include making direct eye contact, speaking clearly, and answering questions with the right amount of detail.

But why are interview skills important? These skills validate everything claimed on your resume and cover letter. They convince the hiring manager that you’re confident in your abilities and that you meet the job’s requirements. 

Interview skills also:

  • Help make a great first impression.
  • Allow the hiring manager to understand you better.
  • Demonstrate how you’re a valuable addition to the team.
  • Highlight your accomplishments. 

Improving your interview skills changes how you approach interviews and your career more generally. One study found that students who worked to improve their interview skills had greater self-confidence and were more likely to pay attention to nonverbal communication.

The students who gained confidence for their interviews were more likely to research how to further their careers and reach out for career advice from mentors and industry professionals. 

These new interview skills were transferable and helped students learn what they wanted their careers to look like and how to take the necessary steps to achieve that. 

Dedicating your focus and concentration to improving your skills will help you answer common interview questions with more comfort and less stress. 

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Face your interviews like a pro with these skills

Developing skills for a job interview takes time and practice. You could make it a habit of doing a mock interview each week or revisit notes from past interviews to think about what you could have done differently. However you choose to practice your skills, make sure to incorporate them into your daily routine for quicker improvement. 

Here are 10 interview skills worth practicing:

1. Be a good listener. Your job interview isn’t the time to zone out. Make an effort to listen attentively when the hiring manager is speaking. Demonstrate your listening skills by nodding your head and focusing as the other person talks. Try to use words from their question in your answer to show you were listening closely. 

2. Choose your words carefully. Try to avoid vague and overused words, and use action verbs that describe your skills. Be professional — don’t use slang or say anything inappropriate.

3. Arrive on time. Being late to an interview makes a poor first impression. Set an alarm, map out your route ahead of time, and leave with a few minutes to spare. If it’s a video interview, make sure your camera and microphone work ahead of time. This interview preparation will show that you’re organized and punctual.

4. Study interview formats. Job interviews have many different structures. Knowing these formats helps you practice answers for specific questions like “Tell me about a time when…” or prepare for certain types, like working interviews.

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5. Practice proper body language. You convey a lot without speaking, so make sure your body language exudes confidence. Practice making eye contact and a firm handshake. Your verbal communication skills are valuable, but never forget that your posture, gestures, and facial expressions communicate, too.

6. Be a storyteller. How you share your stories can either make or break a job interview. You might have great stories that demonstrate your abilities, but if you don’t share them well, they won’t make an impact.

Try using the STAR method, which is best for behavioral interview questions. Remember to reference specific examples, like which skills you used and your direct impact on your work environment.

7. Ask insightful questions. A job interview isn’t all about you answering questions. Think about questions to ask the hiring manager, and say them with confidence. How much room is there to grow in this position? What does X mean in the job description? It’ll demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and seriousness about the job.

8. Do your research. Before your interview, familiarize yourself with the company. Check out their website and social platforms. Make a note of their mission, company culture, and goals. This way, you’ll feel sure you’ve found a great fit and can demonstrate genuine interest.

9. Speak clearly. The recruiters won’t appreciate responses they can’t hear. Make an effort to articulate your words and speak clearly. Take your time, and remember to breathe. Limit filler words like “um” and “like.” Try recording yourself during mock interviews, listening back and checking for any filler words or muffled sentences.

10. Come prepared. Whether your job interview is over the phone, via video call, or in person, come prepared. Bring copies of your resume and portfolio and have them close by. They’ll serve as a reference in case you forget dates or specific numbers or if you’d like to show the recruiter what you’re talking about

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What to do when the interview is over

Interview tips span every part of the hiring process. They’re useful before, during, and after your job interview. Once you’ve answered all the hiring manager’s questions, continue to show you’re the best person for the job by following up effectively. It’ll remind the recruiter of your skills, work experience, and character. 

Here are a few of the best ways to follow up after a job interview:

  • Write a thank-you email. Within a couple hours of finishing your interview, send the person you talked to a thank-you email or note. Thank them for their time, and mention how you appreciated the opportunity to chat. This is a great way to express your gratitude and leave a good impression.
  • Ask to stay in touch. Even before you find out if you’ve been selected for the job or not, try to stay in touch via email or LinkedIn. You’ll be harder for the recruiter to forget, and it’ll be easier for them to update you about the job. 
  • Reiterate your interest. Aside from your thank-you note, don’t be afraid to follow up with the recruiter and ask about your application. It’s an opportunity to express your interest and remind them of your skills. 
  • Ask for feedback. No matter the preparation, sometimes an opportunity isn’t meant to be. Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback on your interviewing skills. The recruiter might make suggestions that point you in a better direction for the future or validate skills you’ve been working to improve.

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When you’re the interviewer

We’ve talked a lot about being interviewed. What happens when you’re the one conducting the interview? 

As an interviewer, you still need to be prepared, speak clearly, and arrive on time. But you have other skills to keep in mind. You’re responsible for guiding the interview and staying on schedule. 

If someone can’t convince you they’re the best candidate for the job in 30 minutes, you might be asking the wrong questions. Use a balance of behavioral questions to gauge how a candidate’s instincts fit your workplace. Ask about their past experiences, like when they’ve made mistakes, to see how honest they are and if they can reference their growth or efforts to improve.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind when conducting an interview:

  • Prepare a list of questions and the space where you’ll conduct the interview. 
  • Make the interviewee feel comfortable and welcome. 
  • Avoid jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about the interviewee. 
  • Answer any questions and reply back to follow-up emails quickly. 

For the future

While learning these 10 interview skills might feel overwhelming, the fact that you’re ready and willing to improve already gives you a leg up. With practice, you’ll be more than prepared to handle the prep, questions, and follow-up for your next job interview. 

Practice makes better, not perfect. There will always be new ways of learning how to improve your interview skills, but keeping a growth mindset and accepting feedback will help over time — when you land your dream job, it’ll be worth it.

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Published November 2, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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