Acing a job interview goes beyond avoiding unappealing and unprofessional behaviors. And putting your best foot forward when getting ready for your interview takes a little more thought and effort than you may think. You probably already have a generic list that comes to mind when prepping, and these are most likely at the very top:
The interview process has undergone some recent changes, with work-from-home positions becoming the norm and virtual interviews becoming more accessible to a broader talent market. There are some constants that job-seekers can rely on, no matter the ups and downs of an adapting professional world.
Receiving an invitation for a job interview in no way means you have an offer “in the bag.” Temper your expectations to keep from actions or comments that can negatively impact the outcome. You want to be confident while still remembering that interviews are an opportunity rather than a done deal.
Speaking ill about previous co-workers or managers does much more damage than good, and so does self-deprecating your work. Approach difficult past situations, struggles, and challenges with a reflective attitude. Doing so will help hiring managers see that you can grow no matter the circumstances.
Simple questions may suffice with a yes or no answer. Still, you can demonstrate that you’re fully engaged in the discussion by elaborating on a response or topic you’re familiar with. Read the room when deciding if it’s appropriate or necessary to dig deeper into the questions asked. Spending a little more time to answer important questions thoroughly is a chance to showcase relevant talents, skills, and enthusiasm for the role.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions and clear the air about any concerns you may have about the open position or the company’s work culture. You can even go back and expand on topics you want to clarify and explore if time permits or even after the interview in a follow-up email. The point is, make sure you’re leaving each interview having gained and left all of the information necessary for making your next move.
It helps to arrive at a job interview with all your bases covered by brushing up on the basics about the company. Review their public information from websites and social media accounts to learn about their values, history, mission, and vision. If your professional goals align well with the company and people, take advantage of LinkedIn networking. It could be an especially great idea if you’re passed up for the position so that if future opportunities that are a better fit for your skillset arise, you’ll be one of the first to know.
While this might sound obvious, the purpose of your discussion should be showcasing your achievements, not the company you were with or are trying to leave. It’s okay to give some context, but make sure your focus is on the wins you were a part of and how you contributed to them. Even the most minor areas of progress or improvement are worth sharing if they’ll help demonstrate your compatibility for the position and new team.
Talking and asking about money during an interview is much more common nowadays. As long as it doesn’t come across as the only thing you care about, it’s okay to be upfront with your needs, even the financial ones. When asked about your salary requirements, be strategic but reasonable. You can give a range instead of a specific number if there are negotiable terms you’re interested in discussing. Make it clear that you’re willing to accept an offer on the lower side of the range if, in general, the job can fulfill your other expectations.
While a job interview is no laughing matter, there’s also no need for your meeting to be stiff and uncomfortable. Be yourself, and feel free to introduce some humor from time to time. It has been scientifically proven that a smile is the best way to connect with others. The key is finding the right balance between your professional and natural self. Have fun, be kind, and smile when you feel like it.
Crossing your arms doesn’t necessarily mean that you are lying or are uninterested, and most hiring managers don’t use these old parameters anymore. However, it’s true that nonverbal language speaks volumes. That doesn’t mean you must focus your full attention on how you’re sitting or if you look anxious since it will most likely distract your listening and thought process. Try practicing a comfortable yet attentive posture, and remember to relax. You’re in an interview, not an interrogation.
Even for professionals who had the most amazing interview, immediately receiving an offer is uncommon. It can take a few days to hear back from a company, and hiring processes, generally, can be quite drawn out. You can increase your odds of hearing back from potential employers by ending your job interview with conviction and stating that you hope to work together soon (as long as you mean it). A thank you email after an interview and a follow-up are exceptional reminders that you appreciate the time spent and are invested in the open position.
A successful interview may look different from person to person. For instance, though the ultimate goal of an interview is to get a job offer, when well-navigated, there are benefits even if you don’t reach the hiring process. If an offer isn’t extended after the first, second, or even third interview, you can still take comfort in successful networking and interview practice.
Contributed by Monica Martín del Campo & Mary Dominguez
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