Acing an Interview
In an ideal world, job interviews would be where you could have an honest conversation about finding the best match for the candidate and the employer. But in reality, interviews can be stressful and awkward—especially if you don't know what to expect. Here's our take on preparing for typical interview scenarios so that you can be confident in your abilities when sitting across from a recruiter or hiring manager.
Before the interview
To ace an interview, you need to do your research. This means researching the company, the interviewer and their roles in the company, and other relevant details such as market conditions or competition.
Before you even think about dressing up and heading out to meet with a potential employer, think about how much time has passed between receiving an offer letter or resume request and being asked to come in for an interview. If it’s been less than 24 hours since they contacted you, just say no! You want as much time as possible at home preparing for this meeting so take advantage of this rule if it applies here. If it doesn't, ask yourself whether there's enough time between now and when your interview takes place for both parties involved (you included) will benefit from taking some time off work (if applicable).
On the day of the interview
On the day of your interview, you should arrive at least 15 minutes early. This will give you time to check in with the receptionist and ensure there are no unexpected delays. You should dress appropriately for the interview, wearing professional attire (no jeans or sweatpants!) and avoiding loud colours or flashy accessories like belt buckles or necklaces. You’ll want to ensure not to wear any cologne/perfume that might bother others in the office.
Before going into an interview, have some questions ready for your potential employer and yourself: what is it like working here? What opportunities do employees have for advancement? How much vacation time do they offer? These questions demonstrate interest and knowledge of what goes on at that company, which can help set you apart from other candidates. If possible, try asking these questions over email ahead of time so that they come up naturally when meeting someone face-to-face – if not, bring them up once inside!
During the interview
You will be asked questions about your resume, cover letter, CV, LinkedIn profile, and portfolio during the interview.
During the interview, you will be asked questions about your resume, cover letter, CV, LinkedIn profile, and portfolio. As you prepare for the interview, become familiar with these documents so that you can answer questions about them clearly and concisely.
Also, during the interview:
Don't fixate on one topic or another—be ready to talk about anything in conversation. Interviewers often ask a few questions randomly from different subjects just to see how well-prepared you are!
Don't get flustered when things don't go according to plan or when someone disagrees with something you said or did. It happens! Just remain calm and continue being yourself until it's time for a break or wrap-up (if needed).
After the interview
Thank the interviewer. After the interview, send a thank you email or letter.
Follow up with a phone call. A few days after your interview, follow up with a call to reiterate your interest in the position and let them know what you've been doing since the interview (e.g., "I've been working on my project management certification"). This can be particularly effective if they are considering multiple candidates for hire and want to make sure they're making their best candidate decision (and also because it's polite).
Follow up with an email or LinkedIn connection request one month later (and then again two months later). If you don't hear anything by then, assume they aren't interested in hiring you at this time but would like to keep in touch for future opportunities.
Follow up with a tweet: "Hey @company Whoa! That last team meeting was awesome! Can't wait until next week’s!" This tip works especially well if there is more than one person involved in making hiring decisions at your prospective employer's company (e.g., if it's not just one person who decides who gets hired). The other person may have forgotten about you by now but will remember when he/she sees this tweet pop up on his/her Twitter feed—which means another chance for him/her to think about all the great things he/she heard from those who interviewed him/her previously...and maybe even reconsider his/her decision not reach out directly?
Do your homework.
The first step in acing an interview is to do your homework. You want to know everything about the company, the hiring manager, and the job description. The more you know about these things, the better prepared you’ll be for any question that comes up during your interview.
Know the company: Learn about its products and services, its mission statement and vision for the future, its competitive advantages over other companies in its industry sector (if applicable), who controls it (i.e., private or public shareholders), and what kind of financial situation it's currently in.
Know the job description: Read over this document carefully—it will give you a good idea of what skills are required for success within this position at this particular organization. If possible, also ask if there are additional duties beyond what is listed on paper—these may help distinguish you from other candidates seeking employment with this same employer!
With these tips in mind, you'll be ready to ace any interview and land the job of your dreams.
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