Nail the Interview

5 Game-Changing Interview Tips for the Modern Job Market

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If you haven’t looked for a job in a while, you may be surprised at what you experience once you get a foot in the door. Getting that initial access is the toughest task most applicants face; these days many companies’ computers do an initial scan of incoming resumes. How to get your piece of paper past that scanner is another issue entirely, one that deserves some time and attention. But for the moment, we’re going to assume that interview. A couple of these suggestions are old news but worthy of reinforcement. The others are oriented to HR practices in use today that weren’t so common twenty years ago.

Interview Tips

  • Master the Virtual Interview: With remote work becoming the norm, virtual interviews are more common. Make sure your tech is up-to-date, and test your camera and microphone beforehand.
  • Know the Company Culture: Companies often look for candidates who fit their culture. Research the company’s values and be ready to explain why you’re a good match.
  • Be Ready for Behavioral Questions: Interviews often include behavioral questions. Prepare answers that demonstrate your problem-solving and teamwork skills.
  • Show Emotional Intelligence: Your ability to understand and manage emotions is crucial. Be ready to discuss times you’ve navigated complex interpersonal situations.
  • Discuss Your Soft Skills: Technical skills are important, but soft skills like communication and adaptability are increasingly valued. Be ready to highlight these in your answers.
  • Have a Digital Portfolio: If applicable, prepare a digital portfolio to showcase your work. It’s a modern touch that sets you apart from other candidates.
  • Understand the Role: Thoroughly read the job description to understand what the company is looking for. Tailor your answers to match the required skills and responsibilities.
  • Use Social Media Wisely: Employers often check social media profiles. Make sure yours shows you in a professional light.
  • Prepare Your Own Questions: Interviews are a two-way street. Have a list of insightful questions that show you’ve done your homework.
  • Follow-Up After the Interview: A well-crafted thank-you email can make you memorable. Send one within 24 hours to express gratitude and to reiterate your enthusiasm for the role.

1. Practice

You don’t know exactly what questions you’ll get but there are some that you can expect in some form; for those questions, it’s worth preparing an answer and actually practicing it. Repeating your answer into the mirror and perhaps even timing it. “Why do you want to work for this company?” That question is inevitable and it’s one that you’re likely to trip over if you’re not prepared. There’s no right answer but a disorganized, halting response is the wrong answer. Practicing also helps with the interview jitters; once you roll out a couple of prepared responses you’ll be much more at ease.

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2. Brevity

Few people understand the power of brevity. A concise answer has much more power than an overly detailed response. How often do you see a politician interviewed on TV with his response cut short by a newsroom editor? Even though an interview is for the purpose of conveying information about yourself, it’s important that the person(s) across the table hear what you have to say. An answer that isn’t structured and focused and that goes on too long won’t be heard.

3. Research

It’s obvious that you need to be familiar with the company that is interviewing you – to a point. In doing your research on your prospective employer look for “macro facts” and don’t worry about the minutiae. You want nuggets that can reinforce your desire to work there: how a company differs from competitors, the growth curve over the last five years, or perhaps some laudatory point about a successful product. You won’t be able to throw more than two or three one-paragraph observations out about this company, so make them large in scope.

4. HR by Committee

It has become common practice for corporations to interview a candidate more than once and to do so with many participants. Often the initial interview will be with two or three HR professionals and the next one will be with a group of individuals with whom you would be working. Interviewing with a committee is an entirely different dynamic than a one-to-one discussion. Somebody at the table is going to be unhappy about being dragged into the process; you should try to find some commonality with that person. Once you’ve sorted out the professional roles for each member of the committee it doesn’t hurt to direct a knowledgeable question at one individual in order to get a dialogue going.

5. Prepare for the Unprepared

Even in large corporations, once you get by the first layer of HR discussions you may well encounter an interviewer who doesn’t know how to conduct an interview. There’s an art to employment interviews and often people drawn into the process aren’t familiar with it. The last thing you want in that room is silence, so be prepared to drive the interview yourself if necessary. The way to do that is to ask the questions yourself; give the interviewer a chance to talk about something he or she is familiar with. Once you have established a level of comfort for that person you can begin to work in highlights of your education or experience that you want them to remember.

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