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
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
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!