What to say at a job interview

As you go search for a new job, you may at some point wonder what to say in an interview. Say these five things as you go through the interviewing process to give yourself the best chance at landing any new job.

“What goals are you trying to meet next quarter?”

According to Howard Pines, founder and CEO of BeamPines, “the best thing a candidate can do at an interview is ask good questions.”

Doing so shows that you are thoughtful and interested in understanding the company. There’s usually a chance to ask questions at the end of your interview, so be ready with questions that show you’re engaged in the process.

Pines suggests several questions, including:

  • What are the biggest short- and long-term issues I would need to focus on in this position?
  • What would I need to focus on differently than the previous person in this position?
  • What organizational issues should I be aware of?

“I'm flexible, sounds good to me”

Whether it’s about possible job duties, a potential start date or simply timing for the second interview, stressing your flexibility makes you easy to get along with.

Hiring managers don’t like complications, and having to coordinate complicated schedules or haggle over a job description eventually just makes you look difficult. While you certainly don’t want to be a pushover—and “flexible” shouldn’t define your salary negotiation—show your potential employer that you’re interested in results that work for everyone.

The company’s own words

Before your interview, become familiar with the company’s website and literature. Pay attention to the words used—what’s important to the organization?

“In your interview, hit key words that appeared on the company website or brochure,” says Olivia Ford of Adeptio. “These key words might include team, leadership, simplistic, culture or growth.”

Mixing these keywords into your answers can provide a subtle hint that you are plugged in to what the organization is looking for.

“That’s a good question.”

Use this phrase instead of blurting out “I don’t know” if the interviewer stumps you with a surprise question. It can give you a few moments to come up with an answer and, in the meantime, strokes the interviewer's ego a little bit too.

Avoid the “I don’t know” answer when possible, but of course don’t lie about your experience or training.

“This is why I want the job.”

Knowing a job prospect’s motivations is important for managers who are hiring.

During your interview, talk about how this position fits into your future plans and the ideas you have about your career, how it fits with your values, and what you would like to learn from it. Talk about how you see yourself in relation to the company and what you believe you can bring to the position.

These kinds of thoughts show who you are as a person, and go a long way toward giving the hiring manager an idea about how you might fit in the company’s culture and values.

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