You want to get this job or nah? Making it through multiple rounds of interviewing is tough. By the time you reach the final interview you have submitted a resume, participated in a phone interview and you may have completed a hiring exercise. Congratulate yourself and dab on making it to this stage of the interview process because it is no small feat.

Now, final interviews are the bread and butter of any hiring process. WHY?  During the final interview stage, you are usually meeting with people you’ll call close colleagues, your manager, and colleagues who you will collaborate with on other teams. If you’re at leadership status you’re meeting the people who you may manage.

Final interviews allow for you to have a better understanding of the organization’s culture, goals, and people. You should never forget that you are interviewing them as much as they are evaluating you. You get to showcase your experiences, hard work, discuss what you want for your career AND evaluate if this company provides this opportunity. Here are FIVE ways to rock your final interview like a pro.

1.       Take Inventory of Your Skills: Before you go into any interview take some time to reflect on your skills and experiences. Ask yourself what are you good at? What are the areas you need to improve?  When you reflect on your accomplishments what skills did it take to reach that accomplishment? Reflect on your skills and make a list of strengths and real weaknesses. Learn how to speak to your skills by discussing experiences in which you had to use them.  Have concrete examples that showcase your ability to lead a team, manage a project, plan events and more. Know how to speak about your weaknesses without sounding like White men when Auntie Maxine is questioning them. We all have weaknesses and providing fluff examples makes you seem like you’re not reflective or simply put you’re full of self.

2.      Do Your Own References: Ask your current manager, former manager, and colleagues for references before they speak to a recruiter. Sometimes people list references who are super fans but have no real stock of their skillsListing your BFF from work is great but make sure they can speak to your skills in detail or else you’re wasting everyone’s time like Lauryn Hill when she schedules a concert to start at 8PM. ALWAYS connect with your current and former managers to ask about their experiences working with you. Allow them to tell you the good, bad, and ugly. Hopefully there is no ugly but you rather know than not. If you hear something negative you can address it in your interview process as an area of growth. This shows the interviewers that you’re aware of the feedback others have for you, take it seriously and are committed to growing.

3.      Show up Early & Dressed for Success. It may seem simple but always show up at least 15 minutes early for an interview. Yes, MELANIN folks show up early. When you show up early you may be able to scope the office culture, have an informal conversation with a potential colleague,  your potential manager AND see how many Black people work there. You may even find yourself in a situation where you realize it is time to GET OUT.  This helps just to build rapport between you and others. Arriving early may grant you access to an office tour as well. Dress the part or better. Just because you’re interviewing with Google doesn’t mean you show up in jeans. Showing up dressed well is a sign of professionalism and respect for a formal interview process. If you’re unsure of how to dress due to the culture ask someone. Simply write “I am excited to interview with you this week. A quick question I have is for the final interview is the expectation business, business casual or casual?”  I would stick with business casual to be safe.

4.     Practice, Practice, Practice: Interviewing can cause a ton of anxiety. The pressure of being excited about an opportunity and knowing you’re being evaluated is enough to scare the best performer (except Beyonce).  Interviewing is showcasing your experiences, skills, and knowledge. For some, their nerves make them forget about what they bring to the table and can cause them stumble when asked questions. To avoid getting tongue tied and forgetting your swag, sauce and greatness practice responding to interview questions.  Look up general final interview questions and have a friend run through them with you. After you answer the questions think about if your response was strong and compelling. Was your response concise? Did you answer the question with an example? If you really want to step up your game record your responses on Voice Memos and listen. Practice doesn’t make perfect however it will prepare you for the real performance.

5.      Prepare your interview questions: One of the worst things you can do is go into an interview have no questions after being interviewed. Having questions after you’re interviewed can reveal a lot about you as a candidate. Interviewers will ask themselves if your questions were thoughtful.  How can you come up with thoughtful interview questions? Do your research! Go to the website of the company and consume as much material as you desire.  Ask for a list of the interviewers you’ll be meeting with and look them up on LinkedIn. After reviewing all of this material, I would come up with at least 10 thoughtful questions.

These five tips will ensure you have a great interview! In the end, you’re competing against a number of internal and external candidates for positions. Remember just because you don’t receive the offer doesn’t mean you’re not talented. #DontHateTheRecruiterHateTheGame. If you’re not chosen, thank everyone for their time and let them know you’re still interested in future opportunities. You’ll be surprised how often recruiters go back to talented people from past searches! Remember "Winter is coming" don't get stuck commuting to a place you hate.  Always remember no risk, no reward!

Happy Interviewing!