I know when that hotline bling…that can only mean one thing:
You FINALLY heard from a recruiter who fell head over heels for your expertly written resume and wants you to move forward in their interview process.
After the initial giddiness subsides, those pesky crippling self-doubts sometimes start creeping through. What if I royally screw this up? What if they realize I am not a good fit? At this point, I like to remind interviewees of one indisputable fact:
You are being considered because the hiring manager sees a strong possibility that you could succeed in this role.
Wield this information as the most pungent, gnarly garlic to ward off soul-sucking vampires of insecurity. The average open job position receives hundreds of applicants, sometimes even thousands of applicants. Out of many hopefuls, only few reach the interview stage. You’ve made it this far because you have something to offer. Between your resume and cover letter, you communicated your value clearly to recruiters and guess what? Whatever happens moving forward, you’ve already impressed someone.
Now it’s time to continue to impress and these comprehensive interview tips are here to guide you throughout your interview process. Learn how to prepare for an interview with these Job Monger-approved resources full of job interview tips:
Phone Screen Interview Tips
Most interview processes begin with a phone screen – a typically short interview conducted over the phone. Although you’re not meeting in-person, don’t rest on the comfy laurels of your recruiter’s initial interest. You still have to have to hustle to stay in the running for this position. Keep in mind the following while preparing for your phone screen interview:
Find a quiet place to take the call.
Not only can background noise distract your interviewer – it could also throw you off your A game. Make sure that you find a suitable place for a call with reliable service. If you’re worried about the possibility of dropped calls due to coverage, suggest an alternate number or a land line.
Research the company thoroughly.
By researching the company before your interview, you can find out what differentiates it from the pack and in turn, differentiates yourself from the pack of other applicants.
Take time to delve into the company website, learn the company culture and mission, read company updates on social media, check out their recent press, etc. Your effort will pay off during your interview!
Mind your P’s and Q’s.
Remember an interview is a conversation, albeit a formal one. Your interviewer isn’t a robot, they’re a human being like you. Being polite and friendly can go a long way.
Don’t be afraid to engage in small talk such as, “Hello, how are you doing today?”, “I’m looking forward to learning more about [Insert Company]” or “Thanks for taking time out to speak with me today.”
Have your resume and job description on hand as a reference throughout the call.
Think of the phone screen as an open book test. Everything on your resume is fair game to your recruiter. Your resume is their main point of reference so be ready to speak confidently and credibly about your professional experience. The recruiter’s job is to assess your qualifications for the role.
Your recruiter may ask you to walk through your resume so be prepared to discuss your previous experience, highlighting responsibilities and achievements that are most relevant to the role for which you’re interviewing.
Having the job description in front of you helps you tailor your responses as well – for example, if a role mentions the company is seeking a “collaborative” and “analytical” person, you can discuss pertinent experiences and counter any potential weak points of your job candidacy.
Answer your interviewer’s questions calmly, slowly and with confidence.
How you answer the questions is just as important as what you say. Do your best to answer the questions with enthusiasm and calm. It’s ok to take a moment to reflect before you begin answering and it’s much better to give a thoughtful answer than a rushed one.
Writing notes during a phone interview serves a dual purpose – one, you have something to reference as you (hopefully) prepare for the next round and two, it forces you to breathe and listen intently to your interviewer, rather than panicking the whole time about what to say next.
You might feel a little silly while you’re doing it but it actually works. Your interviewer doesn’t have body language cues to gauge your enthusiasm for the role. Smiling naturally makes your tone sound more personable, which helps when you’re having a phone call with someone you’ve never met.
Be prepared with questions of your own.
If your interviewer asks you if you have any questions at the end of your phone interview and you reply, “No,” you’re wasting a valuable opportunity to improve your chances at landing an offer. Interviewers expect you to ask thoughtful questions that demonstrate your interest level and competence.
Each interview is different because every company is different but the following questions are my personal perennial favorites for a phone screen:
What traits are most essential for this role?
How do you define success in this role?
How would you describe the company culture?
For more resources to brainstorm questions to ask during your interview:
Fake it ‘til you make it.
Still not feeling confident? Don’t worry – Impostor Syndrome happens to the best of us from time to time. One trick I use is to snap out of it to imagine “What would the perfect candidate say?” and visualize myself playing that part with conviction.
Soon, your confidence will catch up to your ability to project confidence but in the meantime, this tactic can push you past any doubts and fake it ‘til you make it.
Follow up with your interviewer.
If your interviewer doesn’t beat you to the punch, ask about next steps at the end of your interview so you know what to expect for the rest of the interview process.
Following your phone interview, don’t forget to email a short thank-you note to your interviewer, expressing gratitude for their time and reiterating your interest in the company.
It’s a gesture of professionalism that will be expected from you and appreciated by your interviewer, even if they don’t respond.
In-Person Interview Tips
You sailed past the phone interview stage and now they want to meet you at the office! Congratulations on being one step closer to getting your job. The preparation you did for the phone screen served you well but the preparation is not over.
Research – again.
At this point, it doesn’t hurt to double down on researching the company, the team and your role. Refreshing what you already learned does not hurt.
How you dress for the interview depends on the company culture. If you’re interviewing at a startup, you probably don’t want to show up in suit and tie. If you’re interviewing at a law firm, you probably don’t want to show up in a T-shirt.
Use your best judgment, but dress neat and professional either way. Avoid any looks that would draw undue attention to your personal appearance, including heavy makeup or perfume. The last thing you want is an interviewer to have an allergic reaction to your scent of choice.
Be courteous and prompt.
I’d recommend arriving to the office no earlier than 15 minutes before your interview. Later than that is playing with fire and earlier than that is a wee bit too eager.
It’s helpful to arrive in the vicinity of the office at least 30 minutes before and bide your time before arriving to the office 15 minutes before your interview.
Manners count before you even speak to your interviewer. Treat everyone you meet with respect at the office from the doorman to the receptionist.
Brace yourself for common interview questions.
The nice thing about interviews (well, if there are nice things about interviews) is that the vast majority of companies ask very similar questions so with preparation, you can plan your responses ahead of time.
This is especially important since the further you are in your interview process, the tougher the questions tend to be. Do your best to avoid getting flustered or rambling because interviewers want to see how you behave under pressure.
The following are resources with common questions and how to answer them:
Watch your body language.
Interviews are awkward by nature and sometimes these situations can trigger mannerisms that are less than flattering. Be mindful of your body language to send the right message to your interviewers using these tips:
Ask thoughtful questions.
In case you missed the previous roundup of interview questions to ask, here again is a list for inspiration:
Send a thank-you note.
The interview process doesn’t end when you walk out the door. Leave a lasting impression with a standout thank-you note. I’ve generally stuck to thanking interviewers via email and found that this medium has worked well for me.
Time is of the essence so be sure to send a thank you letter within 24 hours of your interview. Business Insider offers this excellent template that you can adapt (never just copy/paste a template from the Internet) and Undercover Recruiter provides some pointers for how to approach this letter as well.
Whew. You made it to the end of this ultimate guide to interviewing and are hopefully well on your way to acing some interviews of your own. Hopefully it’ll be a valuable resource throughout your job search!
Wondering how you can snag more interviews? Find out how a Resume Revamp from The Job Monger can help you craft a resume that’ll get you in the door.