For the second instalment of our three part “how to get the job” series, we’re covering nailing the interview. We recently hired seven new team members, and there were a LOT of interviews. Something I noticed is that a lot of the basics have fallen through the cracks. I’ve interviewed candidates at all levels, and these are the top elements that make an impression.
TEST YOUR TECH
If you’re interviewing virtually, never assume your tech will work for you, or that you know how to use a particular system. Always test in advance! I’d recommend a day before, and about 10 minutes before – and yes, show up early even for a virtual interview, we notice! It’s safe to assume that you’ll be expected to be on camera for a virtual interview, so you want to make sure this and your mic are working. I always ask candidates to test our platform in advance, and am surprised how many don’t! It’s not a good look when the interview starts and you forgot to try in advance. Tech is rarely reliable, so there is definitely grace for this, as long as you had tried before the interview started.
SET THE SCENE
I actually love that doing interviews virtually is now common practice. It speeds up the hiring process, works better for everyone’s schedules and is overall more efficient. I have been surprised however at the lack of attention to backgrounds! It’s still an interview. You still need to swap your sweats for a dress shirt! Not to mention backgrounds. Set your scene to be professional. This is SO easy these days, as most virtual platforms have one-click background options, like a blur or an office space. At the very least, find a blank wall in your home or clean background. I have done many an interview where the candidate is in a tank top sitting on their bed, and that does not give the impression of someone who is ready to be in a professional environment.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
It is always obvious when a candidate has done zero research on the role and our company. It literally takes five minutes to peruse a company website and come to the interview armed with a few examples of what you love about the organization, case studies that stood out to you and the depth of what they do. We always ask what drew a candidate to FAULHABER, and if they can’t answer that question with someone specific, then we know they’re not the right fit. Doing your company research is also a great way to impress your interviewer, and show off how badly you want the position. That enthusiasm goes a LONG way!
Don’t forget to do the research on yourself! Whatever the position, you are guaranteed to be asked to share specific examples on previous experiences, what you bring to the team and what you know you need to work on. Take the time to think on these elements in advance and have them prepared for when you’re asked.
Lastly, always have a list of questions to ask at the end of the interview, that go beyond basic job expectations and salary. I’ve heard some really strong ones lately, so take time to do a Google search of interesting questions to ask about team culture, what success looks like etc.
The best interviews are always the ones that feel more like a conversation. Find ways to show your personality, like sharing a personal anecdote, asking the interviewer questions throughout and don’t be afraid to laugh! Bringing a positive energy as soon as the interview starts is another great way to set a comfortable tone for the rest of the interview. Showing that you’re interested and excited about the opportunity will also relax the interviewer, whether it’s nodding as they describe the role, smiling or asking a lot of questions.
KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL
It is absolutely possible to showcase your personality while still maintaining professionalism. Even though many organizations have started to lean towards more casual environments in a post COVID world, the basics still apply. There is a certain level of professionalism that most employers will expect, especially in the interview phase. Something as simple as watching your posture will project both confidence and professionalism. Language is also incredibly important. I have been addressed with “hey girl!” one too many times – and it immediately sets a bad tone. If that’s how you are addressing an interviewer, how will you address corporate clients? Treating your interviewer with professional respect and following their lead is imperative. I have also had comments on my appearance, asked how old I am, the list goes on. Make sure that you put professionalism at the forefront when you’re preparing for your next interview if you want to make the RIGHT impression.
Especially if you’re interviewing virtually, it can be hard to really focus, so set yourself up for success. Cut out any outside distractions by ensuring you’re in a quiet place where you’ll be undisturbed, and keep your eyes on the interviewer. Also be mindful of keeping your answers succinct and to the point – you want to hold your interviewer’s attention! If it’s only a 15 minute meet and greet, giving long winded five minute answers will use up your time. Listen to the question carefully and answer accordingly, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Repeating the question carefully before you answer is a great tip to give you time to think about what you want to say!
Stay tuned on the last instalment of this series, which will cover all the important little things that happen in between when you apply and when you get the job!
Were these tips helpful? Need more advice? Connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a DM!