How to Ace the Job Interview: Steps to Consider Before, During and After

girl waiting to be interviewed - tips for a successful job interview

Most people think acing a job interview is about becoming the ultimate pleaser. Making sure the hiring manager knows you will happily do everything and more than what’s listed in the job description may be one recipe for interview success, but it’s certainly not a recipe for career happiness. To ace the interview and help ensure both you and the interviewer are pleased by the end of it, here are steps to take before, during and after.

Before the Interview: 

Tip 1: Interview for a Role that Fits Your Talents, Interests, and Passions.

Make sure the position aligns and that your heart is in it. I’ve had people approach me saying that they don’t understand why they’re not landing jobs—they’re talented and qualified but they’re still not acing the interview. I ask them, “Is your heart in it? Do you really want to be doing this kind of work?” Invariably, they admit it’s not, but it’s what’s on their resume.

Don’t fake enthusiasm for roles you’ve done but no longer want to do. Instead, take a step back and do a thorough Soul Search before the next job search. You’ll uncover new ways to deliver value that speak to your interests and talents and who you are now, not who you’ve been in past jobs. Enthusiasm is attractive. Presenting genuine excitement for the job will support you in acing the interview.

Tip 2: Do Your Due Diligence and Perform Proper Research

Research about the job you are interviewing for is important. Start by scheduling a cup of coffee with someone who’s worked or is working at a company or in a position that matches your interests. Find out what it takes to be successful there, what is the culture like, and what they love (and don’t love) about working there. Doing this due diligence will not only help you better prepare for the interview, but it will also create the opportunity to compare your findings with the results of your soul search, giving you the chance to look before you leap. It will also help you prepare for questions and answers and uncover any red flags.

During the Interview:

group of millennials interviewing man - tips for a successful job interview

Tip 1: Approach the Interview with the Mindset of Being “Of Service”

When feeling pressure to perform, we may block ourselves from thinking clearly and be in a fight or flight mode rather than a relaxed version of our true self. A simple change in approach can enable productive two-way conversations.

An easy way to accomplish this mindset shift is to put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes and attempt to understand his/her needs. Make sure you ask more questions to understand the role, bring up ideas about the role and describe how you might accomplish the job. Don’t let the interview be a one-way evaluation.

A client of mine recently approached an interview with this service mindset. The job was for a position that was junior to her experience and abilities. Being of service, she respectfully brought up the additional value she could bring at an even higher-level role. The interview became a conversation about the future of the department, the company and the industry.  By doing this, my client was able to navigate the interview and carve out the perfect role for herself in the organization. The employer happily made a job offer for the right role and my client happily accepted.

Tip 2: Be Someone the Interviewer is Interested in Having on the Team

You don’t have to crack jokes or be the life of the party, but you do need to be someone that the interviewer (and his or her team) wants to work with. That means it’s okay to smile, laugh or share an appropriate clever comment while in the interview. For more tricks on making sure you are yourself, catch the advice in this How to Ace a Job Interview video.

After the Interview:

Tip 1: Become a Resource

Send an article that’s of service to the interviewer—one that relates to the conversation you had about the needs and goals of the interviewer, or the job, department or company. Act as if you already are in the job by being a helpful resource to your prospective boss. This way you’ll also stay on his/her radar in a much better way than asking, “Have you decided yet? Did I get the job? When will you decide?”

Tip 2: Send a Handwritten “Thank You” Note When Appropriate

In the digital age, where it’s easy to send a text or email, the fact that you took the time to write a “thank you” note speaks volumes about the kind of employee you will be. It’s also nice to thank the interviewer for sharing his or her time. Be an appreciator by saying thank you and you’ll feel the appreciation coming back to you—perhaps in the form of a job offer. If you need some inspiration for your notes, check out Pen It Forward.


Successful people know that managing your career is something you do every day. Don’t wait until a job hunt or career change to start laying the groundwork to ace your next interview. Take the time now to move forward fearlessly with these bold steps and get on the path to your ideal career.

For more inspired career advice from Maggie Mistal, subscribe to her Making a Living Podcast on iTunes, Sticher or on your smartphone podcast app.

For additional career advice from Maggie Mistal, watch our one-on-one interview below:

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Maggie is a mom, a podcaster, and a career/executive coach. She has helped thousands Soul Search, Research and Job Search into their ideal careers. Dubbed by CNN as "One of the Nation's Best Known Career Coaches" she has appeared in numerous media outlets including the New York Times and has worked with Fortune 500 companies. Over 5.5 million people have watched her how to Ace a Job interview video on YouTube and NBC’s Today Show featured her personal story of dealing with life and career change. For 7 years, she hosted a weekly national radio show called “Making a Living with Maggie” on SIRIUS XM. For more including a clip from her Follow Your Dreams cabaret show, visit MaggieMistal.com.

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