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You’ve made it to the interview stage, where you have the opportunity to showcase your skills, experience, and personality to potential employers. Now is the time to shine and demonstrate why you’re the perfect fit for the role.
However, success in an interview is not solely dependent on what you say; it also hinges on how you present yourself, engage with the interviewer, and navigate various challenges that may arise. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the essential actions you should take during the interview process to make a lasting impression and increase your chances of securing the job. From effective communication strategies to body language cues and mastering the art of answering questions, we will equip you with the knowledge and techniques to ace any interview scenario.
What companies look for #
While you have worked hard to build an array of grades, extracurriculars, and other qualifications, recruiters know that at this stage already, you already possess the fundamentals in order to do the job. However, it is much less known that they look for traits that help them not only do, but excel at that job.
From a company’s perspective; every new hire is a calculated risk. A recruiter wants to make sure, from the interviewee’s perspective, is that the person being brought on board is a good culture fit with the rest of the team and has the ability to carry out day-to-day operations. Every interview and hire is a financial risk and you want to be able to demonstrate that you are worth that and can bring increased value to the team. After all, comapnies are looking for whether you can either: a) save money for the team or b) make money for the team.
Some traits that demonstrate and carry an impactful message are:
|Common Traits That Recruiters Look For
By demonstrating these qualities through communications with the recruiter and people within the company, you can demonstrate that you are a valuable asset to any team you are placed on and can deliver high quality work.
Rocking the Interview #
With all these different traits, you can come across a wide variety of different questions that can ask the same thing. How can you craft your responses to demonstrate yourself the best? Beforehand, you should have done background research on the company, role, values, and your recruiter in order to have done your due diligence and get a grasp of who you are talking to. Additionally, make sure you have responses that can demonstrate some of these qualities. However, the section about what you should do before the interview goes more into depth about ways you can prepare for the interview.
Interview Etiquette (in-person) #
Before you even start interviewing, you want to make sure you are early to the interviewing location (~15 minutes). Doing so ensures that you are not rushed and keep calm and collected during the interview as well. Also, once you find the location, you can spend time to prepare your thoughts and clear your mind before the interview.
INSERT DRESS TIPS
After walking in, you want to deliver a strong first impression. Presenting yourself as confident and collected goes a long way into setting a positive scene for the whole interview. This can be done by using a firm handshake and eye contact when meeting the interviewer for the first time. In addition to that, it is good practice to always bring a physical copy of your resume to an interview. Additionally, it should be printed on higher quality paper as you are more likely to be associated in a more positive manner.1
Finally, you want to keep in mind your body language as well during the interview. Sitting forward and leaning towards the recruiter as well as listening actively are all signs of respect and interest towards the recruiter. In addition to that, it expresses that you are engaged in the conversation. For a more in-depth article about body language during interviews, check out this link for more information2.
Some other interview tips:
- Take notes during the interview on a notebook, not on a phone or tablet.
- It is completely okay to pause in between questions and thoughts to think about it before actually speaking. Not only is it beneficial to demonstrate thoughtfulness to the interviewer, it allows you to carefully craft your thoughts effectively.
- Try to refrain from using negative language. Instead, try using positive language to keep the conversation flowing in a positive way.
- Try to also refrain from using informal language such as Like, uhh, awesome, incredible, etc.
Interview Etiquette (virtual) #
Because of recent world events, virtual interviews through Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Hangouts have become increasingly common. While virtual interviews don’t allow for some more traditional impression-making techniques, like a firm handshake, there are still plenty of ways to impress your future employer.
Similarly to in person interviews, you want to show up early to the virtual meeting room by entering the chat promptly at the start time. However, you should still do preparation beforehand. Before the interview, make sure the software is correctly loaded and your camera and microphones are all working. Consider doing a practice call with a friend or family member to ensure everything is working!
Even though you are remote, you still want to dress for success. The same principles still apply here as in-person interviews. But now, you have additional factors to consider besides your outfit. One of them is the environment you are taking the virtual interview in. Make sure the background behind you is clean and not distracting from you. Also, you want to check your lighting and make sure that you are not facing away from windows which can cast shadows on your face.
You want to make sure you find a quiet space where you can interview. If you are living with roommates or parents, make sure you coordinate in advance what times you are interviewing so that nobody will distract you or make background noises.
Harvard Business Review has a great article here about the intricatcies of virtual interviewing3
Some other virtual interviewing tips:
- Keep a notepad nearby to write questions down instead of typing them since keyboard noises can be heard over the microphone.
- You may be tempted to keep a “cheat sheet” of your achievements beside the interviewing screen. While that isn’t frowned upon, make sure that it is not obvious you are looking at something else during the interview.
- Because a laptop webcam sometimes has awkward angles, make sure you know exactly where to look at in order to give the appearance of eye contact to the person on the other side of the screen .
Closing the interview and next steps #
Almost every single interview ends in a question which nearly everyone fails:
Do you have any questions for me?
Through all the interview questions you answer, this may be the most important of them all. You should never answer “no” to this question; this question demonstrates your interest into this position. With a few thought out questions, you can leave a lasting impression. A good question does two things:
- It allows the interviewer to better understand your thought process and see that you have adequately prepared for the interview.
- It allows you to see if the position is a fit for you; allowing you to develop a better sense of the company, culture, etc.
You don’t want to ask questions that can be easily answered with a search on the website. Instead, ask more thoughtful questions that are strategic and insightful to the company. Some of the questions are:
- What does an entry level role look like that isn’t listed on the job description and the avenues of career advancement look like?
- How did your responsibilities start out working there and how are they different from what you do now?
- What are some resources you reccommend I look at that can better help prepare me as I enter this industry?
There is not a clear copy and paste for some questions, each company has different qualities that command different questions. For each company you interview with, come up with 4-5 questions that are specific to that company.
While we covered a lot of material, this covers a brief overview of some tips to ace the interview. From dressing for success to asking thoughtful questions, As you reach the end of this article, you now possess a wealth of knowledge and insights on how to effectively prepare for and navigate the interview process. Success in an interview is not about having the right qualifications/experience but by painting yourself in the best light and showcasing your value. Feel free to check out some additional links and resources below for more in depth material.