Ace Your Interview
Interviewing can be tough. Not only do you need to explain your skills and experience, you also have to research and prepare to speak about the company and the role. That’s a lot to remember! This is why when someone doesn’t get the job, it’s often not because that person doesn’t have the skills. Frequently, it’s because the interview didn’t go well – or at least it didn’t go as well as it went for the person who got the job.
Hiring managers use the interview as an opportunity to get to know you by asking a series of questions; but when you interview, it’s your responsibility to articulate why the interviewer should hire you. You should help them get to know who they’re hiring by sharing your track record, character, and reputation. Always remember that the interviewer is on your side. While they are evaluating your experience and skills, they are also hoping you are a good fit for the role as much as you’re hoping you are!
Here are some of the top tips for interview success from our friendly Nelson recruiting team.
Before the Interview: Prep for Success!
Review the job description in depth. Note how your experience and skills specifically overlap with those of the desired candidate, and be ready to bring up those parallels, with specific examples, throughout your interview.
Get familiar with the company by reviewing their LinkedIn page, Facebook page, Glassdoor reviews, and any recent news or stories. The hiring manager will be impressed and be more interested in you if you show genuine interest and knowledge of their company and industry, and you could gain insight that will help you ask the right questions and evaluate the opportunity.
Check out the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile, including their past work history, education, groups, and interests. This will help you understand their background.
Prepare questions before your interview. This will make you stand out; the majority of people are unprepared when the manager asks if you having any questions. Your research into the company, manager, and industry will help you craft a few meaningful questions about the company, position, and manager.
- How would you describe your department’s/company’s culture?
- What is new and exciting in your company/group/department?
- How would you describe the person that has performed the best in this position? What made them successful?
- What are some challenges or obstacles I should be aware of in this position?
- Describe your management style. What will it be like to work for you?
- What are your expectations of me/your department?
The Phone Interview: Be a Phone Phenom!
Use a land line if you can. Bad cell phone service and dropped calls will ruin your first impression with a manager. If that’s not possible, be sure you’ve scoped out a quiet spot with great reception well in advance of your call, and that you can get there in plenty of time. Always be sure your phone is charged!
Take the call from a quiet area. Dogs barking, babies crying and sirens on the street will be a major distraction and hurt your chances of a successful interview.
Smile while you speak! This may sound odd, but the manager will hear positivity and engagement.
Listen, focus, and enunciate. Listen to the questions, prepare your response, and then speak clearly and carefully. Don’t rush yourself! Take a breath and ask the interviewer for clarification if you don’t understand a question.
Take notes during your interview. Use these notes to generate follow-up questions at the end of the interview, to remember important points to re-iterate in a thank-you note or other post-interview follow up, and help you prep for any additional interviews.
The Video Interview: Conference with Confidence!
Make sure you have the right equipment – and that it works. Does your computer camera work? Have the necessary downloads been installed (Skype, WebEx, Google Hangout) etc.? Test EVERYTHING prior to the call. You don’t want to panic right before your interview because of technical difficulties, and the hiring manager most likely won’t reschedule if mistakes were preventable.
Dress professionally. Wear what you would normally wear to an in-person interview. Note the color of your background and be sure to wear a contrasting color so you don’t look like a floating head.
Adjust the lighting and clean up your surroundings. Poor lighting is the number one complaint hiring managers have with video interviews. They want to see you; that’s why it’s a video interview!
Look at the camera! Avoid looking at the screen or your surrounding area. Unlike an in-person interview, you’re actually making eye contact with the interviewer when you look into the camera instead of at the interviewer’s eyes on the screen, which can come across as being disengaged. Set up your computer/webcam ahead of time, and make sure you’ve framed the shot so your head and shoulders appear in the frame and you can look straight ahead into the camera.
The On-Site Interview: Bring it Home!
Dress professionally and conservatively. If you are working with a recruiter, ask them what the standard is for an interview with that company.
Don’t go overboard on perfume, cologne, or makeup. Less is more! You want the interviewer to focus on your skills and experience, not your appearance or scent.
Bring a few copies of your resume. Sometimes the interview team is in a rush and doesn’t have time to print your resume before the interview. Be prepared with a few copies just in case.
Arrive early and be friendly with the person who greets you! Show up at least 10 minutes before the scheduled interview time in case it takes time to find the right location. Ask for the interviewer by first name, five minutes before the scheduled time. Or, if you need to check in with someone when you arrive, be sure to let them know that you’re a bit early and you’re happy to wait until the interviewer is ready. You don’t want to ask for the interviewer too early because you may stress or rush them. Just don’t be late!
After the Interview: It’s in the Bag!
Immediately after the interview, ask about timeline and next steps. This shows you are organized and process-oriented, helps you understand if there are more interviews or skills testing, and gives you a timeframe for following up. It also allows you to communicate your next steps and prove your follow-through skills. For example, if the interviewer says they will be getting back to everyone by the end of this week, let them know you’ll follow up with them early next week if they haven’t been in touch – and be sure you do.
Send a thank-you note to the interviewer if you have their contact information (it’s easy to ask for a business card at the end of your in-person interview). If you don’t, ask the recruiter you are working with to send it on your behalf. Whichever route you choose, make sure your communication is typo free, pleasant, brief, thankful, and not demanding. If possible, use the opportunity to reiterate a strength or experience you discussed in the interview that resonated well.
Hang in there! Due to interview schedules and regular business demands, hearing back after an interview can take some time. It’s ok to follow up (do so with your recruiter if you’re working with one), but wait at least a week after an in-person interview to ask about next steps. You want to show enthusiasm without coming across as pushy.
There you have it! Armed with these tips, you’ll ace your next interview. Ready to land the interview for your dream job?