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Hiring 101: How to ace a job interview

Mike Del Ponte, co-founder of Soma Mike Del Ponte, co-founder of Soma
Mike Del Ponte, co-founder of Soma

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What are three tips for nailing a job interview?” is written by Mike Del Ponte, co-founder of Soma.

The problem with interviews is that they create a context that feels something like this: “Hi, candidate X. You’re one of many people vying for this position. In this interview, we are going to ask you a number of questions. You better have the right answers or you won’t make it to the next round.”

This isn’t always the intention of the hiring manager, but it’s often the psychological undertone of the interviewing process. You don’t want to be the one hoping you’ll be lucky enough to earn their approval. In fact, you want the hiring manager to be chasing you. So, how do you flip this power dynamic? How do you not only nail a job interview, but also have the company coming to you? Follow these three simple tips:

Connect with the hiring manager
You don’t have to provide all of the right answers, but you do need to be liked. In other words, a cultural fit is necessary. Your interview should feel more like a conversation between friends than an interrogation. Notice the energy in the room, if it feels tense, crack a joke or tell a story. Making a personal connection with the hiring manager is the first step in creating a dynamic that will work in your favor.

Understand the business objectives
Most job descriptions will describe the tactical aspects of a role. And as a candidate, you need to know what you’ll be evaluated on; ask about the challenges and risks you’ll face if you take the position. Then, go one step further and understand the role of your potential boss. This is likely the person interviewing you, so they’ll need to be sure that hiring you will make their job easier.

Put the company under the microscope
You should be vetting the interviewer as much as they’re vetting you. Ask tough questions about the vision of the company, its culture, growth opportunities, and the team you’ll be working with. This accomplishes two things. First, it provides answers to the important questions you should be asking before you make a career decision. And second, it puts you in a position of power because you’re conveying that this is a partnership — both you and the company need to benefit from the exchange.

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What are three tips for nailing a job interview?

College graduates: How to land your first job by David DeWolf, president and CEO of 3Pillar Global.

Why you should treat a job interview like a first date by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.

Why an impressive resume won’t get you hired by Sunil Rajaraman, co-founder of

Birchbox co-CEO: How to nail a job interview by Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and co-CEO of Birchbox.

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