Professional Development Tips: Interviewing

Finally. After months of research, applications, and emails, the company of your dreams wants to interview you for a highly-sought after position. Congrats, you made it!

Well… almost. Acing the interview is arguably the most important part of the entire recruitment process. But no need to worry! Avoid interview blunders using these fool-proof tips.

Before the Interview

Preparation yields perfection, or pretty close to it. 

Preparing for your interview is just as important as the actual interview itself. Even if you have talked to dozens of companies in the past, treat each interview as a new opportunity that needs individualized attention and research. 

Before you walk in or join the Zoom call, make sure you know who is going to be in the room. Explore the company website to identify the likely hiring manager or recruiter. Check out their Linkedin and craft a few personalized questions based on connections of interest you might share or want to learn more about. 

Follow this same approach for the company. Even if it’s a group you are familiar with, try to curate a few atypical questions to help you stand out as an interviewee. Leveraging testimonials from current employees is a great way to garner specific insight that might not be found on the general website. What makes the company unique? Is there anything you find exciting about where the company is headed? Create questions that focus on the company, its people, and your specific interests in working there.

Remember to do this preparation before it’s time to head out the door for your interview. And be sure to allow more time than you think to commute, park, and locate the interview room. Nothing is worse than racing the clock to beat a Google Maps ETA. Your future self and lack of a car insurance claim will thank you.

During the Interview

The time has come, you walk into the room where your potential future boss/coworker is waiting. Be confident in your abilities. You’ve earned your way here. Remember you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.

It is crucial to show genuine enthusiasm and gratitude during your interview. You applied for this job and received an interview for a reason. Make sure you know that reason, can succinctly articulate that reason, and boldly express interest in the position and company. When they ask questions, it’s okay to take a moment and process. Don’t feel like you need to have the answer on the tip of your tongue. Taking time to formulate an answer shows your ability to critically think on the spot. Avoid memorizing your answer ahead of time. Especially if you are in a virtual conversation, it can still be obvious when someone is reading off a script.

Take a deep breath. Slow down. Remember the person you are talking to is a human, too. This is just a conversation. Obviously, this is easier said than done. It may sound counterintuitive, but the slower you speak and formulate your ideas, the more prepared and intelligent you will appear to the interviewer. Talking too fast can create frantic and jumbled thoughts that may end up negatively affecting the quality of your answers. 

As the interview winds time and the appropriate time comes, let your questions shine. Pay close attention to what they have to say and jot down notes if something strikes you. Tailor your original questions in light of the new information you’ve gleaned from the conversation. 

Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to elaborate because they don’t expect you to know everything, and you shouldn’t act as if you do. Use this part of the interview as a chance to learn about the company, and also as an opportunity to network with a professional.

After the Interview

Whew. The interview is over. Now what? The waiting game begins.

I’m sure you’ve heard it again and again, “send a follow-up.” Well, I am going to say it. Send a follow-up. Better yet, send a handwritten follow up, if possible. Whether it’s a note, an email, or a phone call, make sure to express your interest in the specific position and thank the interviewer for their time. Not only does a follow-up show that you really care, but it is also an opportunity to keep the conversation going. Bring up something from the interview that excited you or ask a question that you didn’t have time to answer. No matter what, make sure your follow up is personal and genuine. 

It is important to avoid ghosting your interviewer, no matter what kind of experience you had with the company. It is always best practice to thoughtfully reply to any future communication to demonstrate responsibility and respect. You never know who the hiring manager may talk to. 

Incorporate these tips to ace your next interview and continue to sharpen your skills. Even if you are not offered the position, think of every interview experience as an opportunity to put yourself outside your comfort zone and build your professional network. Even if the outcome isn’t what you expected, you never know what you may learn or how much you’ll grow!

Looking for more professional development tips? Check out our blogs on Resume Updates and Networking.