Mastering the Job Interview

Mastering the Job Interview

These days job interviews aren’t what they used to be but some things haven’t changed. If you are looking for a new position, there are some tips you need to keep in mind to nail the interview process and land your dream job. Following these will give you a big step up on sealing the deal!

It’s hard to be interviewed. You’re being judged. Your past accomplishments, your character, work ethic and your potential. It’s natural to be nervous and not know what to say. The key to overcoming nerves and mastering job interviews is preparation.

Preparation is the key to success. Trying to talk off-the-cuff hardly ever works and an interviewer can spot lack of preparation a mile away. So, what does preparation look like? Re-read the job description. Then re-read it again and again. Make sure you know what the job entails and can discuss the requirements. Try this trick: make a table with three columns. In the first column write the job duties and requirements. In the second, describe your past responsibilities connected with each job duty. In the third, list past accomplishments connected to items in the first and second columns. That way you have connected the dots exactly to how your skills match the requirements of the position.

Know your resume inside and out. It sold you well enough to get an interview so that was good but the interviewer may not have completely so make sure you can bring pieces of information on it to their attention. But make sure the resume you sent matches the job you applied for. And be ready for those first questions with your elevator speech. A concise and powerful “Why me” lasting 60 to 90 seconds is important to have. Also consider recording this elevator pitch and watching it. It may feel awkward but seeing if your message was clear and if there are improvements that can be made is helpful. If you’re really brave, send it to a mentor or friend.

Practice your virtual interviewing before the interviewing, especially if you haven’t been doing Zoom calls for the last 18 months (and how have you been getting away with that!) Set up your camera so it shows your full face. Find a spot with a background that isn’t embarrassing--you’ll know what that means for your home. Zoom offers backgrounds you can use if you don’t have an acceptable space. If you are able, practice with a friend to see how you look on computer. And that you’re able to use the technology correctly - enabling the audio and video. And make sure your location doesn’t include any ambient noise.

Interviewing is a lot like an audition. So how you speak is of great importance. Speaking slowly, with a calm, confident tone will make the interviewer able to hear you clearly. The interviewer will also be better able to understand what you are saying and you will be seen as more knowledgeable.

Then there’s the eye contact. It connects you to your interviewers and equally projects confidence. If looking directly at someone’s eyes makes you uncomfortable, try looking at the interviewer’s eyebrow or chin.

Preparation includes how you dress. Dress in interview clothes from head-to-toe. Yes, most likely no one will see anything below your shoulders but we’ve all seen the commercials and news stories that show that accidents happen! Plus, when you dress like a professional you feel like a professional and you will act like a professional.

Prior to the in-person (or Zoom-person) interview you might have a phone interview. There are tons of advice sites out in the Google-verse on the kinds of questions you might get asked. Do some research so you know what you might get asked.

Good preparation also means learning as much as possible about the company you’re interviewing with. Understand the company philosophy, how they do business, what they look for in a candidate. Google is your friend here. Look for interviews, reviews, check out their website. If you know anyone at the company, definitely talk to them.

After preparation, listening is another crucial piece of interviewing success. Showing your ability to listen as well as talk is just as important. Listening demonstrates your thoughtfulness. By practicing good listening, you will correctly answer the questions asked and give the interviewer the respect they deserve. Make eye contact and nod your head and make sure you understand the questions and comments you hear. The employers are trying to sell you on the company as well so listen for important information which will be important for later answers to questions.

When an interview is finished it is extremely important to show gratitude. Don’t go crazy but you want to be top of the list. Smile, say thank you and if you can work in asking for the job and wanting it without being pushy, do that.

But there’s still a pandemic. If you do have an in-person interview, don’t offer that end of interview handshake. I know it’s customary and expected but we are still in a safety-first time. And even if it’s not necessary, bring a mask that matches your professional attire.

Your gratitude should not end there. Follow up with an email that says thank-you for the interview and reiterates your interest in the job. It doesn’t need to be a book. But mention a few key points of the interview just to make sure they know which one you were!

Here’s the last tip. It’s one thing to be interested in a job, quite another to be desperate. Approach your interview like it’s your dream job. It’s hard when you need the job. Keep telling yourself that the best way to get that job is to do a great interview. Because employer’s want to hire the best candidate, not the most desperate one. Don’t plead or beg, it just makes everyone uncomfortable. Be cool!

Good luck in your search and land that dream job!