Study Abroad Corner

Interview 101: How to ace an interview?

how to ace an interview

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the interview round! Interview is an opportunity for recruiters to get to know more about you and for you to get a deeper insight about the position and the company. Interviewers will ask questions to understand more about who you are as a person and how well you will fit in with the company and its culture, and whether you’re competent to do the job.

This post provides some quick tips on how to ace an interview and a list of the most asked questions during an interview. Whether it’s an interview for a job, an internship, a research position, or a leadership position in an organization, you all want to create a positive impression with the interviewers and make yourself stand out against other candidates. The majority of these tips derived from my own experience being interviewed and interviewing others. In my second post, I covered what not to do during an interview, read it HERE.

Tips on acing an interview

  1. Practice, practice, practice. Interview can be very nerve-wracking and scary! So in order to build confidence and be familiar with it, have mock interviews with your friends, professors, and career advisers. Then ask for their feedback on what you’ve done well and how you can improve at the end. This is especially important for international students. Because English isn’t our 1st language, and sometimes because of our accent, we need to practice and prepare for the interview even more.
  2. Come up with potential answers beforehand. Use the most asked interview questions listed below as your reference and come up with ideas on how you would answer these questions before the interview. Then practice saying them out loud so you won’t stumble during the actual interview.
  3. Don’t arrive to the interview late. Always arrive 5-10 minutes earlier.
  4. Dress appropriately in business professional attire (or neat casual attire if specified beforehand). You want to look sharp and professional for the interview.
  5. Be confident and be yourself. Give a firm handshake and introduce yourself to the interviewers. Be confident but don’t be arrogant and cocky. No one wants to work with an arrogant person who thinks they’re the best and know everything! For more tips on how to create a lasting first impression click HERE.
  6. Have positive attitude. Don’t forget to relax and smile!
  7. Unless you’ve already been through plenty of interviews and are super familiar with the drill, we’re all going to be nervous. Just take a deep breath and relax yourself. Don’t tense your body up. Speak slower and focus on clear pronunciation to avoid stumbling on words.
  8. Provide real life examples. Don’t just give a 1-2 words answer during an interview. Instead, elaborate your answer and provide real life examples based on your experiences. For example, if the interviewer asks you about your strengths, don’t just list adjectives such as “responsible,” “dependable,” or “hard-working.” Say what your strengths are, and how they helped you create a positive impact at your previous job. Tell your stories!
  9. Demonstrate your interests for the job. Ask questions to the interviewers to understand more about the job, the company, and the people that you may be working with. Do some research about the company or organization and read its “About Us” page. Explain to the interviewers how the company/ organization will make you grow as a person and how you can help them (to achieve higher profits, lower costs, what value you can bring to them). Show that you’re strongly interested in it.
  10. Prove that you’re competent to do the job. You need to convince interviewers that you’re qualified and capable of doing the job based on your skills and experiences. As mentioned above, provide real life examples and show the contributions and impacts that you’ve made in past companies/ organizations.
  11. Be aware that interviewers aren’t allowed to ask you personal questions, such as your race and religion. However, if you do want to share and don’t mind sharing, feel free to do so. Just keep in mind to not overshare your personal details. The interviewers are not your BFFs, so unless it’s somehow relevant to the conversation or topic, they won’t care about what you just had for lunch, how much you drank at a party last night, or when your best friend broke up with her boyfriend.
  12. Always follow up afterward. No matter how good or bad your interview went, always shake hands with your interviewers afterward and thank them for their time. Don’t forget to send them a thank-you email within 24 hours after the interview, or even better, a handwritten thank-you note! Read more about it HERE.

The most frequently asked interview questions

  1. Tell us about yourself.
  2. Why should we hire you?
  3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  4. Why do you want this position/job?
  5. Why did you leave your previous position/job?
  6. What do you know about this company/organization?
  7. How can you contribute to our company/organization?
  8. Describe yourself in 3 words.
  9. How would your boss, co-workers, friends describe you?
  10. Are you a leader or a follower?
  11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
  12. What’s your greatest accomplishment?
  13. What’s your biggest failure?
  14. Describe a challenge that you faced and how you dealt with it.
  15. Describe a leadership experience that you had.
  16. What motivates you?
  17. What are your hobbies and interests?
  18. How do you handle conflicts?
  19. How do you deal with pressure/stressful situations?
  20. What are your career goals?
  21. Are you willing to travel and relocate?
  22. Are you willing to work overtime, during weekends, holidays?
  23. What’s your salary requirement?
  24. Do you have any question for us?

Continue with the second part: What not to do during an interview?
Read it HERE.

For tips on how to have a stand out resume, click HERE. For tips on how to have a stand out cover letter, click HERE.

COMMENT BELOW! if you have any questions or additional tips to ace an interview!

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Hue La

About Hue La

Hey there, I'm Hue (pronounced “huay”, not “hue” like how you would normally say it in English). I'm a USC graduate and traveler with 6+ years of study abroad experience in the U.S. I founded Study Abroad Corner with the goals of providing helpful advice and building a social network for fellow study abroaders around the world.

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