Unleash Your Inner Interview Ninja; 8 Tips for the Perfect Interview

interview coach | Speak Genesis | Kim VanBorkulo

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Behold the ninja, highly trained, laser-focused, keenly aware, and single-minded in purpose– to emerge the victor. Your competition won’t stand a chance.  

As a leadership development and interview coach, I’ve helped many who’ve struggled with interviews to become exceptional and have multiple job offers. Some have even doubled their salaries.

Follow the ways of the ninja, disciplined, and well-practiced until they’re highly skilled. These same principles apply to prepare for your interview. 

Here are eight ways to conduct a flawless interview. You’ll be the standout candidate and obvious choice. 

1. Research

You should thoroughly research both the company and the interviewer.

Believe it not, 47% of managers eliminate a candidate because they have little to no knowledge of the company. Nearly half of all candidates go into an interview with almost no knowledge of the company and what they do. Your analysis of the company should include its website, LinkedIn, Bloomberg, Google, Glassdoor reviews, all social media, and Wikipedia. Also, scrutinize their competition and understand what differentiates it. Just doing this will put you ahead of half of your competitors.

Cultural fit is the single most important hiring factor, as reported by 43% of managers. Research the person or persons who’ll be interviewing you. Find out as much as you can through the company website and social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. What are their interests: fishing, cooking, camping? What are your mutual interests? These will be good talking points and will help to make for an excellent cultural fit.

2. First Impressions

Stand up straight and walk with purpose and confidence — approximately 33% of managers state they’ve eliminated candidates because of bad posture. Perfect your handshake; 25% of candidates don’t get the job because of a weak handshake. Maintain eye contact; a whopping 67% of managers state they’ve eliminated a candidate because they failed to maintain sufficient eye contact.

All of these comprise the first impression. Statistics show that hiring managers typically decide upon a candidate within the first 90 seconds to three minutes. Make a great first impression.

3. Mirroring

The mirroring technique is the subtle and almost imperceivable fine art of resembling the person that’s interviewing you in both body language and verbal language. Note the picture below; both women have their elbows on the table, are leaning forward, and using low-level hand gestures. Mirroring takes practice. If the person interviewing you uses a lot of hand gestures, you should also. I suggest never matching exactly, but instead going just a couple of levels below, and never above. Vocal mirroring includes pace, volume, and use of vocabulary. If they speak slowly, slow your speaking down. If they talk very fast, you should speak more rapidly. Be careful with volume. If they are extremely loud, speak more loudly, but never match them. They could be hard of hearing. If they’re not, they could see this as a sign of aggression. Matching vocabulary means if they’re using simple language, you should also. Conversely, if they are speaking and using four-syllable, more complex words, so should you.

Mirroring is exceptionally effective because the person interviewing you believes that the two of you are much alike, and that means you’re a great cultural fit.

interview coach | Speak Genesis | Kim VanBorkulo

4. The "Small" Stuff That's Really Big

The small stuff is important: arrive 15 minutes early, bring three copies of your resume, turn your cell phone off. If you’re able, make small talk with the receptionist if they’re not busy. Remember their name and say it a few times during the conversation. You’ll stand out and remembered favorably. Talk about them, not you, and take a genuine interest. 

5. Dress

You’d be shocked to learn that 70% of managers decided against a candidate because of fashionable dress. You may feel quite dapper, and they might hate it. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask about the dress code. Financial institutions are typically quite conservative and expect a black or navy suit. Tech tends to be very casual. Always ask about the dress code.

interview coach | Speak Genesis | Seattle

6. Prepare Quality Question

Your research will guide.  Your questions should be well thought out and demonstrate your thinking agility, and knowledge of the company and industry. Include questions specific to the position for which you’re applying. 

7. Practice the Question and Answer Portion

Anticipate the questions that could be asked and practice your answers out loud. These include industry questions and the “why should we hire you,” in other words, “what differentiates you from your competition.” Most are aware of the “tell us your worst quality/what’s three things you would change about yourself and why.” The best answers are, “I work too hard/take my work home with me/ will work day and night until a problem is solved-” You get the idea.


Be sure to ask when they’ll be making a decision and with whom to follow up.

8. Follow Up

Follow up, no matter the position, is a direct reflection of your work ethic and attention to detail. Get the emails of all who’ve interviewed you. Send “Thank you” emails and include personal data about them that you’ve gathered during that interview. Send this email the same day or the day after.

If you don’t hear from your point of contact on the date they’ve told you they’d make a decision, email them the following day. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask whether they’ve made a decision.

Why not have 2020 be the year you land your dream job?

Kim VanBorkulo is a career developing coach who specializes in executive coaching, leadership development, and interview coaching for both individuals and teams.  She is CEO of Speak Genesis [ speakgenesis.com ]

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