How to advance your career at your current company or somewhere new
According to a release by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June 2021 there were 10.1 million job openings after a record-high 4 million people quit their jobs in April.
The job market is ripe with opportunity, but that doesn’t mean the best positions (and salaries) are just being given away.
Especially during the COVID era, businesses have been forced to streamline. Since much of the job interview process may be conducted online, honing your interview skills is essential.
In this article, we’ll cover 7 interview tips that will help you stand out, score that second interview and make your next power move.
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Interview Tip #1: Do your research on the company before interviewing
Get familiar with their products, core values, and key demographics. Brainstorm ways you can make connections to them in your interview as much as possible.
This is also the time to look for any gaps in the company that you may be able to fill. Do you speak another language not currently supported? Have you spent time in a newly acquired sales region? Citing specific examples of gaps you can fill is a very effective way to answer the classic “why do you think you’re the right candidate for this job?” interview question.
Interview Tip #2: Become an expert on the position you’re applying for
Learn everything you can about the requirements of the job you’re applying for, before the interview. If there’s certification or training required, start as soon as possible and document your progress.
Compile personal performance data, certifications and/or training, key achievements, and internal references that show why you’d be a great fit for the new position. Organize hard copies of your data in a binder or folder that’s easy to present during the interview process.
Interview Tip #3: Be ready to adapt for in-person or online interviews
Make sure you’re prepared with a full interview outfit and shoes in case your online interview changes to in person. Prepare both hard copies and digital copies of all documents including your resume, cover letter, reference letters, certifications, etc.
Be prepared with reliable transportation and time in your schedule for travel in case you interview in person. For remote/online interviews, make sure you have a private space to use during the interview, a reliable internet connection, and video conference equipment.
Set up a space at home for interviewing remotely, just in case. Make sure that you:
- Use good lighting
- Place the camera on your laptop or device at eye level
- Arrange a simple background that’s professional yet interesting
- Test your audio, camera, and video chat app beforehand— not being ready to begin the video chat is the equivalent of arriving late to an in-person interview
Interview Tip #4: Study the most common interview questions
Researchers at Zety.com (an online resume builder) conducted a 2021 survey covering the most common interview questions. Surveyors asked “500 professionals involved in the hiring process” and “1000+ American workers about their experiences as job candidates.”
Top 5 most common interview questions asked (according to interviewers)
- Tell me about yourself – 60%
- Tell me about a challenge or conflict you faced at work and how did you deal with it? – 57%
- What are your greatest strengths? – 51%
- How did you hear about this position? – 48%
- What are your greatest weaknesses? – 46%
Top 5 most common interview questions asked (according to interviewees)
- Tell me about yourself—94%
- What are your greatest strengths?—91%
- How did you hear about this position?—84%
- Tell me about a challenge or conflict you faced at work and how did you deal with it?—82%
- What are your greatest weaknesses?—80%
BONUS TIP: Monster.com also has a great top 10 list of common interview questions with extremely detailed interview tips for answering each question.
Interview Tip #5: Mentally and physically get yourself “in the zone”
Before an important interview, make sure that you get a good night’s sleep and start your morning well. Take care of your body with some light exercise and eat a healthy breakfast that fuels you. Give yourself extra time for grooming so you’re not in a rush and you feel confident.
Practice meditation to focus on your goals and a positive outcome to the interview. Create a “pump up” playlist to help you get in an upbeat mood. Review details about the company or position so that they’re fresh in your mind.
BONUS TIP: If you’re interviewing online, still get fully dressed in your interview best. Yes, it might be Zoom but going all out head-to-toe will put you in a different mindset.
Interview Tip #6: Don’t throw away the opportunity to ask questions
Nearly every interview ends with “do you have any questions for me/us?” DON’T throw away this golden opportunity! It’s not solely for your benefit, it’s another chance for you to win over your interviewer. Asking questions shows that you’re engaged and thoughtful.
According to the Zety survey, here are the most effective ways to answer this interview question:
- What are the skills and experience you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?— 69%
- What does a typical day look like?— 67%
- Can you show me examples of projects I’d be working on?— 55%
- What are the most immediate projects that would need to be addressed?— 49%
- Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change in the next six months to a year?— 39%
Interview tip #7: Always follow up after the interview
Online or in person, follow up after your interview. It’s a small detail that can help you stand out from other candidates. If you’re interviewing remotely, send an email. The interviewer may not be in the office to pick up physical mail. In person, send a thank you card.
Rise to the occasion with a proactive plan for your interview
If you’re ready to make your next power move, you know that there’s no shortcut or cheat sheet for success. Nailing a rock star interview is all about planning and being proactive. Start by researching the company and position that you’re applying for.
As COVID surges continue to be an issue for many, be ready to adapt to both in-person and online interviews. Study the most common interview questions so that you’re well-prepared to answer them. Mentally and physically prepare yourself to feel your best on the day of your interview.
Above all, prepare yourself to make the most of any opportunity you’re given. Ask good questions and pay attention to small details like following up after your interview.