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Tips for Acing a Job Interview

If you're looking for a new job in 2021, chances are you're going to be participating in a few or many job interviews. The average job opening will require 2-3 interviews with 6-10 candidates. It could be more or less depending on the position.

You can still expect to have at least an opening discovery interview where you go over the job and your qualifications with a hiring manager. Then, one to two interviews where you meet with various people in the hiring committee who will gauge whether you would be a good fit.

Each interview could be 30 minutes or more.

It can be a grueling process, but it is a crucial part of the journey to finding a job that matches your skills, experience, and expectations.

While you can't completely control whether or not you get a job offer, you do have control over how you act before, during, and after the interview. If you prepare in advance, dress for the job, and act professionally throughout, you'll put yourself in a better position to ace the interview and get a job offer.

This article will go over the basics of interviewing and explain how you should prepare for a video interview, which is becoming more common because of the pandemic and greater acceptance of remote work. Are you ready to get started?

How to get ready for a job interview

So you put in the work to create an eye-catching resume and cover letter and have received an email or phone call indicating that you have moved on to the next step: a job interview. You worked hard to reach this level, but the hard work has just begun if you want to make a good impression. The following tips will help you get ready for the interview and put you in the best position to ace it:

Do some research on the company: Review the company's website, social media pages, and press releases to get a better understanding of what they do, what their culture is like, and why you would want to work there. You will be more confident during the interview, and you will show the interviewer that you put in some work to learn more about the company. Don't be afraid to use your network to inquire about the company if you have connections.

Practice your interview answers: We encourage you to review this list of common interview questions from Inc.com that shows the most common interview questions and how to answer them. This will provide you with a good baseline for questions you will likely hear. Also, websites like Glassdoor and Indeed allow users to comment on their interviews and even provide examples, so it might be a good idea to review them as well. Many career experts recommend writing down your answers and practicing them with someone else to replicate an interview.

Use the STAR Method to answer behavioral questions.

Many companies use behavioral questions to allow candidates to explain how they would act in a hypothetical situation by providing past evidence. The STAR Method is a proven way to create a narrative that is easy to follow and fully answers the questions. It consists of four parts:

Situation: Describe the when and how for context.

Task: What was your role in the situation?

Action: Explain what you did in response.

Results: What was the outcome of your action?

To prepare for behavioral questions and make the best use of the STAR Method, read through the job listing to identify qualifications and experience you may need to describe in detail during the interview.

Create a list of references: Your references can include previous employers, co-workers, and people you interact with that aren't family members or friends who can best describe your skills and qualifications. Make sure to have your references ready when asked and let your contacts know in advance so they can prepare for a phone call from a prospective employer.

Have some questions ready to ask: At the end of the interview, the interviewer will typically ask you if you have any questions you would like to ask them. Don't be modest here. Good questions show that you have thought about the position and want to know how you would fit within the organization. Take some time to think about questions you think would help you better understand the role and the company.

man doing research on computer

What to do during and after the interview

If you have prepared in advance, you should feel confident you're going to ace the interview. On the day of the interview, it's all about executing the fundamentals to leave a positive impression. Here are several tips to keep in mind.

  • Prepare your attire in advance. Make sure to iron your dress shirt and pants and shine your shoes, if necessary. The key is to look the part so the interviewer can envision you in the role.
  • Bring several copies of your resume, a notepad, and a pen to take notes.
  • Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. Any earlier than that, though, and you run the risk of being too early and making it awkward for anyone who has to find a place for you to wait. It might make sense to do a practice run to see how long it will take to get to the location so you can plan accordingly.
  • Be respectful and confident when you meet anyone in the organization, including those interviewing you. The idea is to treat everyone as if they are the hiring manager making the final decision.
  • When you are being interviewed, remain composed and project confidence through your body language. If you don't know the answer to a question, it's okay to ask for clarification or admit you don't know rather than not being truthful.
  • Be focused and straightforward as you tie their questions back to your achievements and skills. If you have practice answers and done your research, this should hopefully be easy.

Should I Send a Thank You Email?

Yes, it's customary to send a follow-up Thank You email after you have the interview. You should send one within 24 hours to anyone who spoke with you. While each email doesn't have to be completely different, you should have some points in there specific to the person you're sending it to. Your email should be concise and could include the following:

  • A sentence thanking them for their time and the opportunity to speak with them.
  • A few points reiterating why you think you would be suitable for the position.
  • A short paragraph discussing something you spoke about during the interview and providing additional information after thinking about it.
  • Links to your work, if necessary.
  • An invitation to ask you additional questions.

Remember to proofread your email very carefully before you send it. It might be a good idea to have someone else look at it as well. A polite and respectful Thank You email might give you the slightest edge for a competitive role, so it's not something to gloss over.

How to prepare for a video conference interview

man adjusting his tie

Even if things go back to normal relatively soon and COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past, video conferencing and remote work is here to stay. There is a chance that you will never meet your hiring manager and other people who interview you in-person.

And even if you will work in an office, your first or second interview may be on Zoom, Teams, Meet, or other tech platforms. You should get acquainted with some best practices to ensure you make the right impression from home. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Test your equipment and network before you hop onto a video call

Conduct a speed test to make sure you will have a working video connection. Typically, you will need to have a 1 Mbps connection. Many different websites will allow you to test your internet connection for free. Your ISP may also have a tool you can use to test your speed. If your Wi-Fi connection is poor, consider plugging your device into your modem's ethernet port or finding a library or cafe that may offer free Wi-Fi and have less-trafficked areas.

Check your audio and video equipment. The day before your interview, test your speakers and webcam to make sure everything is in good working order. If something isn't working, you have some time to fix it before your interview.

Get familiar with the video conferencing platform in advance. Many of the major video conferencing platforms have similar features. However, it's still a good idea to explore the platform you will be using during the interview to ensure your equipment is compatible and you have an idea of how to log in, screenshare, and more. Think of it this way. If you are comfortable using the platform, you'll be more comfortable answering the interview questions and showing why you would be a good fit for the team.

Even if you do your due diligence, there's a chance the tech will stop working. A tree could fall on your power line, for example, and there's no preparation for that. It happens to all of us. Ensure your interviewer has a phone number they can reach you at, so you can continue your interview.

Keep your background and attire professional

While remote working does lend itself to more casual attire and working environments, it is essential to show your interviewer that you can still act professionally. We recommend keeping your background as bland as possible by positioning yourself in front of a wall so there is nothing to distract anyone watching you answer your interview questions.

Lighting is crucial as well. If there is too much natural light behind you, it could create a shadow effect. If your environment is too dark, your interviewer may not be able to see you, which, again, could be distracting. Do a test run of your environment around the same time you will be interviewed to see how you will look and make adjustments to your environment and lighting if necessary.

Finally, you must dress the part regarding attire and wear clothing that you would normally wear if you were being interviewed in-person. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to wear a suit and tie or blouse and blazer, but it should reflect their dress code. The general rule of thumb is to dress one notch above a company's dress code during the interview.

Practice and come to the interview prepared

We have talked a lot about some of the most common interview questions and why you must research and practice how you answer them. In a video interview, it might be tempting to keep notes on your desk or another monitor. Having a resume to refer to is one thing, but having notes for every expected question is probably too much.

You'll be more likely to rely on those notes and not make eye contact, which will make for a bad interview. An interview is a conversation, and each participant acts on body language and cues. Eye contact is crucial in an interview, especially a virtual one. Prepare for the interview and mind your body language to have a natural conversation, even if the setting is a little different from what you're used to.

If you need help preparing for your upcoming video interview, always know that our staffing experts can help!

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