Job interviews are the bane of many job seekers’ existence, causing stress, anxiety, and frustration. It’s the part of the job search we try hardest to prepare for… and yet it seems we often come up short.
Through my experience as a job seeker and then as a recruiter, I can say there’s no magic formula to become an expert interviewer. However, I soon found ways that have helped me (and now the candidates I’ve interviewed and coached) be more successful during this portion of their job search.
Here are some best practices to help you prepare for your interviews:
Review the Job Description and Company Details in Depth
Review the job description and get a feel for the types of skills they’re looking for. Really absorb the verbiage used to describe their expectations. Once you feel you have a clear understanding, check out their career site and company details. Take the time to gain an understanding their company culture, mission statement. Even try to find employee testimonials on review sites like Glassdoor to gain some insight of what it would be like to work there. Having these details will set you up nicely for the next step.
Take Stock of Your Skills
More often than not, candidates end up talking themselves out of a job. Either they say too much or they say too little. It’s important to find that middle ground that allows you to provide the information you intended to without causing the interviewer’s eyes to glaze over.
Compare your experience against the job description. Can you sum up your experience and skills in a couple solid sentences that seems to hit the key points they’re looking for? Make it easier for the interviewer to see your transferable skills by finding ways to express your experience clearly, concisely, and in a way that will closely match their job description.
Write It Down
Many times, the first interview is an introductory phone screen. It will be very beneficial for you to write down the skills you assessed in the step above to ensure you have all the details readily available. Additionally, write down examples of how you used these skills on the job. Aside from general questions about your experience, recruiters will also ask you situational or behavioral questions that help them assess your level of experience in the skills they’re requiring.
Having these examples written down already will allow you to get straight to the point without getting stumped or providing unnecessary details. It can also allow you to reduce your nerves when you’re racking your brain for an example without causing too much of an awkward pause.
Use Your Network
There are many people out there that you can connect with that have either worked in a similar job, a similar company, or actually worked/works at the company you’re interviewing at. Take the time to talk to them about their interview experience. There may be a chance that certain interview questions stuck out in their mind. Knowing these questions beforehand can help you be one step ahead.
If you don’t feel comfortable connecting with people you don’t know, do a general search for interview questions relevant for the job you’re going for. They may not be the exact questions, but they could give you a good feel of what you may be asked throughout the interview process.
Use Your Resources
The internet is a wonderful tool. Candidates have the ability to research the company in depth. PR pieces, forums, and blogs can help job seekers get a sense of what’s happening in the company or get an idea of what others are saying about the company. Websites like Glassdoor provide detailed reviews in regard to employees’ overall feelings about working for the company.
Some interviewees also give details about their interview experience, things to look out for, questions they were asked, and provide general advice. Not only will reviewing these details help you with your interview, but it can also help you formulate impressive questions for the recruiter.
Show That You Did Your Homework
Recruiters are often impressed by candidates that have done their homework. They’re even more impressed by the candidates that seemed to go above and beyond and looked deeper than just what is on the company website. In that same regard, they also enjoy well-thought out questions that are a step above the general ones that they’re typically asked. Did you see something on a blog that interested you? Ask them more about it. Was there an employee review that sparked up something that concerned you? Try to get clarification on the situation.
These are the types of things that help the interviewer feel like you genuinely care about the company you’re recruiting for.
Doing well in your interview isn’t the last step of having a good interview. It’s also about what you do AFTER the interview. If you have a LinkedIn account, be sure to connect with the individuals you spoke with. If you have the email or phone number of those individuals, be sure to send a follow up message to thank them and reiterate your continued interest in this position. This can help them feel that you are serious about this job.
Interviewing is definitely a tough thing to master and although I wish I had a way to assure you that this will help you land a job 100% of the time, I can’t. The important thing is to use this as a guide to help you build the confidence and skills you need to do better during your interviews.
Above all else, the best thing you can do is learn to be adaptable. If something you tried during an interview didn’t work out as you had hoped, take the time to evaluate what went wrong and find a way to tweak your strategy so you have better luck next time. Eventually, all your hard work will pay off.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at The Social HR Connection!
About the Author: After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in human resources and organizational management, Ashley pursued her passion and secured a career path in the human resources industry. She is currently a Sourcing Specialist for WilsonHCG, as well as a Brand Ambassador for WilsonHCG and #TChat.
Additionally, she uses her experience and knowledge to write a blog focusing on an array of Social HR topics. Even if you aren’t in the Charleston, SC, area, you can easily connect with Ashley on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.