Whether you’re great at job interviews or a nervous wreck, there are always ways to improve your strategy and tactics when it comes to putting your best foot forward. Especially with the fast-changing virtual environment that now surrounds many jobs, your interview skills will benefit from the following tips.
The saying that you can never be too prepared is certainly the case for a job interview. Nothing is worse than applying to a position you really want and then failing to showcase your best self during the interview process. These guidelines can help.
- Bring extra copies of everything. An entire hiring committee may interview you, so if you are prepared with multiple copies of your resume, you will begin the interview ready.
- Review your social media for possible issues. Though depending on where you live it may be illegal for companies to scope out your social media accounts to learn more about who you are, the fact of the matter is, it still happens. Take off any undesirable content or photos. If this is too difficult, change your name on your accounts.
- Mental preparation is critical to ease anxieties before interviews. A practical way to do this would be to review your resume and memorise achievements relevant to the current job you wish to receive. Pick one or two examples for each past job experience. If you cannot think of many, don’t be afraid to think of non-job-related ones. It is better to have concrete examples than to be generic.
- Do your research on the organisation you wish to work for. Don’t just review a company’s home page on a website. Look through what the company has accomplished and think about how it relates to your background.
- Get a good night’s sleep. This is pretty obvious, but it becomes a problem all too many times. If you can’t sleep because you’re anxious even after you’ve done your best to mentally prepare, take a pad and pen to bed and write down your thoughts, concerns, or ideas regarding the interview. This will cause you to dwell less on what’s racing through your mind.
- Give yourself plenty of time to arrive. Know the potential traffic. Be on time, or better yet, slightly early. Yes, again, this an obvious one. But there is a reason why it comes up repeatedly. There will always be that one candidate who is late, and you certainly don’t want it to be you.
Now that you’ve prepared as much as you can, it’s time for the interview. It’s challenging to stand out in a large pool of applicants. To prove that you’re better than the next person walking in, follow these best practices.
- Despite what you think, this is not about you. Think of the interview as being about the company and its needs, as opposed to your own. Stating that you have many examples from your past work experience and asking what the interviewer would most like to hear about is a great start. Then, you can tailor your answers to the qualities or attributes of your interviewer lists.
- Lead the employer to have their own reasons to hire you specifically. In other words, don’t try and sell yourself as a good candidate. Creating a great impression takes more than that. Instead, ask this question: “How important is it to you that this position is taken by someone who________?” Fill in the blank with something specific to you that has already been addressed in the conversation. Likely, most other candidates are not asking this.
- Ask questions about what it is like to work there. Employers notice the types of questions you ask. It shows you are more interested than those who do not ask anything, and of course, it supports your decision in taking the job should it become offered to you. If you are at a loss, inquire into what the company culture is like, ask about the most challenging aspects of the job, and try to understand the turnover rate.
- Ask if there is anything regarding your experience that is of concern. Not only will this give you a final opportunity to convince them you are indeed a good fit, but it again presents how much you care about the position, which employers will often take into consideration more than basic qualifications.
This conversation wouldn’t be complete without addressing the infamous virtual interview. Whether it’s Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, or another platform, it’s critical to know the program and prepare for anything to go wrong. Follow these best practices to make the most out of the online video interview.
- Treat it like any other interview. This includes any preparation and strategy going into the discussion. For instance, it may be tempting to have notes on your screen or in front of you on your desk, but it will show that you are reading through your body language. Prep as if this is not an option, and you should be golden!
- Your presentation matters. The only difference between the virtual interview and the in-person one in terms of attire is that you might get away with wearing your sweatpants. It may be better to dress accordingly to get yourself in the right frame of mind. But if you refuse, be sure to test your camera and know that your pyjamas aren’t showing.
- Assume something will go wrong. Technology is never perfect, so be equipped for any scenario you can think of. If your internet goes down, do you have a backup plan? Getting a hot spot on your phone or connecting directly to ethernet is good plan-Bs. Make sure your microphone, webcam, and chargers are all good to go. It won’t do you any favours if your computer loses power in the middle of your answers.
- Find the best setting for your interview. If you have kids or roommates around, make sure you are in a quiet area in your home or find another spot to settle in. For extra precaution, post a sticky note on the door that says not to disturb. But ultimately, understand that something may go wrong, and your interviewer will likely appreciate it. We are all getting used to the new virtual world.
Above all else, enter your interview with confidence, even if you don’t think you have it. Self-doubt will only hurt you, so why not embody your most confident self? Best of luck!