Rather than responding off-the-cuff to interview questions, prepare for a discussion that will propel you to the next round.

You've polished your resume, landed an interview, and chosen the right outfit. But what will happen at the interview? Sure, you'll be asked several questions. But take some time to prepare your mind for the next conversation.

Remember that any interview is a two-way conversation. The organization is wanting to get to know you better and see if you're the right fit for the position and office culture. This is also an opportunity for you to know more about the company and discover if this the right next step for you—personally and professionally.

Narrow down to three main talking points

Even if you're interviewing for your dream job, you can actually limit your chances by giving too many examples, stories, and experiences. Interviewees can drone on and on listing their life experiences while the interviewer has zoned out from the conversation. The interview becomes a collection of white noise, with very little to nothing standing out. Each person can only take in so much information, and that's especially true for the person interviewing you. 

Make yourself memorable by preparing three main talking points. Review the job posting and list three ways you, your skills, and your experience make you the best candidate for the job. Also, prepare clear examples to support each of your talking points.

Be comfortable talking about yourself

The interviewer has a set of questions to ask you and every other candidate. He not only wants to get to know you, but he's also watching your body language and how casual you are sharing information.

Reinforce your talking points by connecting all answers back to one of your main points. Here are some questions you can expect to answer:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What is the last book you read?
  • What do you enjoy doing outside the office?

Research the organization

Spend some time on their website viewing the company's mission. What products do they produce? How has the company grown recently? What connections can you make from your own experience to that of the company? Applicable experience can include professional, volunteer, educational, and personal experience.

Include your talking points as you ask and answer questions. An interviewer wants to know you're serious about joining the company. Consider these aspects of the company:

  • How does the company give back to the local community?
  • What is the corporate culture?
  • How is success defined and communicated within the company?

Connect your experience with the job description

You bring a unique experience to the table. No one else has worked on the same projects, taken the same risks, learned the same tough lessons, and achieved the same success you have.

Going back to your three talking points, consider the best examples from your work to support the points and connect with the company's goals. In fact, it's best to use the company's terminology you've seen on their website and within the job posting.

Stay within your talking points to answer these questions:

  • How has one of your greatest strengths achieved success for a company in the past? In what way can this same strength be applied to the prospective organization?
  • When have you learned from a failure, and how can that lesson connect with the new company?
  • What examples can you give of working well within a team format to share success? And describe the ideal team at the potential company.

Wrap back around to your talking points

Many interviews conclude with the interviewer asking if there is anything else you'd like to say. Finish the interview strong by reiterating your strong talking points. By reinforcing these points, you help the interviewer remember the unique experience you bring to the organization and why you are a strong candidate.

Are you in the interviewing process now? Hang in there! Share any tips in the comments.