It’s clear that the global pandemic that has consumed 2020 has also changed the way our professional world operates. If you’re in an active job search or feel like you may be one of the next victims of a layoff or furlough at your work place, you need to ensure that you take the time to fully prepare for any interviews you are lucky enough to be invited to. Below are five quick tips to help you to be ready for the interview…and hopefully, the offer.
Step #1 – Take the time to prepare
Knowing who you are is one thing, being able to communicate that to another person is a whole different ballgame. Showing you can effectively market yourself during an interview is key in nailing the interview, and ultimately, the job offer. Have a checklist of the things you need to do prior to, during, and after the interview-documents needed, location of company, AND floor or office where the interview will be conducted, Wi-Fi capabilities and access to equipment if your interview will be virtual, and any questions you may have regarding the job and company. Practice talking about your strengths and weaknesses, how you’ve overcome obstacles on the job, and some of the major highlights of your career. Also know the parameters of what the offer could be, salary and benefits you need/want. It’s very rare that an offer happens during the interview, but sometimes it does, and you need to know your value before you hear their offer, or if they ask questions about what you want if they offer the job.
Step #2 – Know the job
Be able to give concrete details of how your skills, experience, training, etc. combine to make you the ideal candidate for the job, based on the qualifications and requirements in the job posting. Have job-specific questions ready for your interviewer, and also ensure that you’ve done your homework regarding the culture of the business, as well as the services or product being provided by the company (and to whom they’re being provided).
Step #3 – Have your Interview “Toolbox” filled and ready to go
Whether you are interviewing in person or remotely, there are things you need to have at your fingertips, so you can speak to your credentials. First and foremost, have a copy of your résumé with you and be able to validate the content, if questioned. Have a list of professional references who can speak on your behalf prepared to hand over, or to email, if requested. Be sure your professional and personal social media profiles are cleaned up and that any professional sites have the same career information as your résumé. If you are interviewing virtually, it would be easy of have a typed list of questions prepared, so you can discuss them when the time is right. You can also contact the company prior to your interview to ask if there are specific items you should bring to the interview if you are going on-site.
Step #4 – First impressions are everything
Dress appropriately for your interview regardless of where or how it takes place. If you are on site, the customary handshake may be a no-go, so be sure you understand any social distancing or cultural practices that need to be followed during the entire interview process. Be on time! This is key for any interview! Do a test run to the location and allow for traffic snafus, trains, etc. If your interview Is being done virtually, make sure your computer or phone is in a quiet spot (no potential background noises or interruptions), and that you are able to access the program the interview will be facilitated through. Eye contact is good and can easily be a sign of confidence in a candidate. If you are interviewing at a restaurant, order a meal that is easy to eat, and keep in mind that following the restaurant’s current guidelines and policies will show that you can follow and respect rules.
Step #5 – Do what you need to do to put yourself at ease
Be sure your body and mind are prepared to help you appear calm and confident during your interview. Eat breakfast, work out (please shower/groom after), do some breathing exercises, and anything else you can think of that will keep your nerves on the down-low. Shaky hands, not making eye contact, and talking too quietly or not confidently are all things that could make the interviewer determine how you handle stressful situations. Keep the conversation positive and on track. Listen intently and think before you answer questions. Be sure to thank the interviewer at the end and if it has gone well, even ask what the next steps in the hiring process will be. Projecting confidence is important!
This year has been one of new ways, new policies, and new working environments for today’s professional workforce. However, the basics of a common interview haven’t really changed much at all. You need to be sure you are fully prepared for your interview and can show the interviewer exactly why YOU are the candidate they want to hire for the job.