Job Interview Tips and Preparation to Land Your Next Offer
The time you’ve invested in your job search—combing through job postings, writing a customized cover letter and tailored resume, creating a digital portfolio—has paid off. You’ve been scheduled for a job interview.
Now comes the important part: preparing for the interview.
Just like you shouldn’t walk into an exam without studying, you shouldn’t interview without prepping for it first. Here are job interview prep tips that can help you stand out from the rest of the interviewing pack!
Job Interview Tips for Before the Interview
Once you’re scheduled for the interview, you need to prep yourself for the big day! Here are some job interview tips to help you get ready.
Review and Research
Before you applied for the job, you likely researched to make sure you were a good fit for the company (and that the company and job were a good fit for you!). One of the often overlooked job interview prep tips includes reviewing that research.
Look over everything you discovered about the company, then review the job posting and job description. This can help you decide how to structure your questions and answers during the interview.
Once you’ve reviewed it, do some more research. Dig a bit deeper into the company and role. Try to learn more about the specific department you’d be working for or the people you’d work with. Go past the first few pages of the company website for more specific, in-depth insights.
As the interview date approaches, stay up to date on news about the company. These interesting and timely tidbits can be great sources of updated information. And, your newfound knowledge gives you something to chat about in the interview.
Be a Star
Though you know they are coming, it’s important to practice your answers to common interview questions. But, as you do, incorporate your research about the company and the job description to create responses that demonstrate how your skills make you the perfect fit for the role.
This may sound like a tricky task, but using the STAR method to answer interview questions can help you stand out and do more than “just” answer the question. The STAR method can help the interviewer picture you and your skills in the role.
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result, and using this method to answer an interview question helps you explain not just what you did, but why you did it and how what you did benefited your employer.
When you answer almost any interview question, think of a situation you faced (S), the task you needed to complete (T), the actions you took to complete the task (A), and describe the end result (R).
Answering a question like this helps create a clearer picture of you as a candidate and employee, allowing the employer to gain a deeper understanding of how you might fit in at the company and use your skills to their benefit.
Overlooked Job Interview Prep Tips: Where Are You?
While preparing for the inevitable Qs and As of a job interview, don’t overlook some of the more routine yet equally important job interview prep tips like, where will your interview take place?
If you’re preparing for an in-person interview, you’ll want to know where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, how long it will take to get there, and have a back-up transportation plan in place.
You won’t need to assess your transportation options for a virtual interview, but you will need to prepare your technology. Make sure the device(s) you use for the virtual interview is up to date and functions with whatever interview platform the company uses. Do a test run, just to be safe!
Also, choose an interview location that will be quiet and distraction-free for the entire interview. While a home office would be ideal, that’s not always possible. So, consider a bedroom or even a walk-in closet if you have to.
With your location in place, do a quick once over to make sure you present yourself in the most professional way possible. Check your lighting and see how you look on screen. While the lighting doesn’t have to be professional quality, make sure the interviewer can see you clearly. Also, check behind you to make sure your environment is clutter-free and professional.
During the Interview
The day has finally arrived. It’s your big moment. But your job interview prep isn’t over. Here are a few more job interview tips to ensure success!
What to Wear
Figuring out what to wear for an interview is, in some ways, complicated. Generally, you no longer have to wear a formal suit to impress the interviewer. In fact, depending on the company, wearing a suit may hurt your chances of getting the job depending on their culture.
As you research the company, see if you can figure out what the dress code might be. Look over social media posts or the company website and see what employees are wearing. Are they wearing jeans and t-shirts? Khakis and polos? Suits and ties? This alone can give you an indication that dress pants and a button-down shirt are acceptable interview attire, or if a full-on suit is necessary.
Matching your interview clothing to the company can help demonstrate that you understand its culture, no matter where the interview takes place. But, if you’re doing a remote interview, you need to do more than dress for interview success. You need to dress for on-camera interview success.
Solid colors are always a safe bet. Just don’t pick a color that’s the same as your background! As a rule, darker colors tend to show up better on camera but test out a few shades with your webcam to find a color that works best for you.
And the last of the job interview tips for a virtual interview is: wear pants! You never know when you might have to stand up or push your chair back from the desk, giving the interviewer a view of your fuzzy pajama pants.
Watch Where You Look
Whether it’s a remote or in-person interview, maintaining appropriate levels of eye contact is essential.
In an in-person interview, you probably won’t stare. It’s human nature to break eye contact occasionally, so in an in-person interview, you feel comfortable looking away from the interviewer at times.
However, in a remote interview, the “maintain eye contact” advice is a little harder, but with a few tweaks, you can create the same feeling of an in-person interview.
First, make sure you place your webcam at an appropriate height. Ideally it’s in-line with your head, but slightly above your eyes so you can tilt your head up. Your webcam should also be straight in front of you and not off to the side.
If you have an external webcam, experiment with different placements until you find the right one. You can do the same if you have a laptop with a built-in webcam, but it may require more creativity on your part, like propping it up on a pile of books to get the right placement.
Secondly, it’s human nature to want to check ourselves out. It’s just what we do. But, during an interview, this is not a good look. So, make a conscious effort not to look at yourself in the tiny box on screen when you’re interviewing. Turn off the option if you can, or cover yourself with a sticky note!
Lastly, look at the webcam when you’re speaking, not the screen. It’s awkward, but this ensures that you’re looking into the interviewer’s “eyes.” Looking elsewhere on the screen can make it appear as if you’re looking at a second screen or another person. If you find you’re having trouble looking at the webcam, place a sticky note with a reminder (Look Here!) by the webcam or draw a pair of eyes if that helps.
While you do most of the talking during an interview, you also do a fair amount of listening. To take your interview skills to the next level, do more than merely listen. Flex your active listening skills.
When you actively listen, you’re paying attention to each and every word the speaker says. This gives you the time to not only hear what they are saying but also to truly listen. This, in turn, helps you craft a spectacular and specific answer to the question.
Keep Paper Copies Handy
Thanks to your phone, you probably have access to everything you need right when you want it. And while that’s true most of the time, we all know that sometimes, technology can fail at the worst possible moment.
No matter where your interview is, keep a few analog (paper) copies of your resume handy. This makes it easy to hand to an interviewer should they ask. And, it enables you to refer to it if you need to.
Prepare for Your Turn
Eventually, the interviewer will stop asking the questions and give you a chance to make some inquiries. Asking a few thoughtful questions that demonstrate your interest in the job can help seal the deal. But, make sure they are the right questions.
For example, don’t ask, “What can you tell me about the role?” This shows that you haven’t been paying attention during the interview. If you still have questions about the job, ask something specific. Try, “How does the company measure success for this role?” You’ll learn a lot more about the job and how the company evaluates staff while impressing the interviewer with your thoughtful question.
Equally as important, ask about the next steps. Try to find out when you can expect to hear something. Knowing when you can expect an answer or invitation for another interview can help you move on with your job search instead of constantly refreshing your email hoping for a response.
Job Interview Tips: Post-Interview
With the interview concluded, you’ve done all you can do to impress the interviewer, right? While that’s true, here are a few job interview tips for the post-interview period.
Send Your Thanks
No more than 48 hours after your interview, send a thank you note.
Make sure the note is personalized to the interviewer, especially if you met with more than one person that day. Pull out one relevant and specific bit of information you and the interviewer discussed and thank them for their time.
Also, reiterate your interest in the job and highlight one of your skills that you think will benefit the employer by mentioning a specific task.
Even if you did get a timeline, sometimes things happen. Emails, phone calls, and job offers slip through the cracks, so you may need to follow up with the company.
Don’t feel awkward or weird—companies expect interviewees to follow up. If nothing else, it shows that you’re interested, and it can help remind the recruiter or hiring manager of who you are and why you’re perfect for the role.
Of course, you don’t want to follow up too much.
If you were given a specific date when the company would follow up, and you’re past that date (say two or three days), feel free to reach out to your contact to find out what’s happening.
If you weren’t given a specific date, wait until one week after the interview has passed, then gently follow up with the hiring manager. If they don’t respond after another week, try again.
Until you get an offer, nothing is guaranteed. So, keep up the job search. You never know what’s around the corner until you look. This way if you don’t get the job, you’re already moving your job search forward.
Job Interview Prep Helps
While you may feel confident in your improv skills, preparing for your interview is the single best of the job interview tips out there. Spending the time to prepare can help you feel more confident and better able to handle whatever the interviewer asks.
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By Rachel Pelta | December 31, 2020 | Categories: Work Remotely