Nail Your Next Interview with These Tips and Tricks
Interview season is creeping up—or may have even begun for internships in the summer of 2022. Once you land the interview, it is normal to feel anxious and stressed over the upcoming conversation. Going in prepared can help!
I have gathered some of my best tips and tricks in this article to help you feel more prepared for your next interview, and hopefully feel less anxious!
Tip #1 - Be Prepared
Before entering the interview, it is so important to do your research on the company, the industry, and your interviewers.
Pull up the company website and take some time to comb through their mission statement, values, and history. It can be helpful to jot down some notes on these topics, as you can incorporate them into your answers during the interview, or inquire more about them if you have any questions (I will talk more about this later). Also, look into their community outreach programs and D&I initiatives, and be sure that they align with your values. It’s important to make sure that the company you are looking to work with is one you would be comfortable supporting.
It is also crucial to look into the company’s competitors within the industry, and the industry as a whole. Easy ways to do this are by skimming other competitor’s websites for the products/services they offer, and looking at recent news articles regarding the industry. Reading recent reports or press releases can be a great way to gain insights on current projects the different companies are working on, and how the industry is moving forward as a whole.
Additionally, if provided with the names of the recruiters you will be interviewing with, search them on Linkedin and look into their background. On Linkedin you can usually find their current position at the company, how long they have worked there, and their education history (college and major). I find this helpful to get a sense of their interests and what they do, so I know a little about them heading into the interview, and possible points of interest we may be able to connect on.
On the day of the interview, make sure to dress appropriately for your industry. If you are unsure about the attire you should wear, always dress business professional. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed! Make sure you show up to the office or log onto the zoom call a few minutes early, with your cell phone on silent to minimize distractions. Moreover, bring along a copy of your resume and cover letter (hardcopy if in person, digital version if virtual). Interviewers may reference your previous job roles and specific details on our resume, so make sure you have it handy for reference! Be prepared to talk about your work history, how your previous roles have prepared you for this new one, and transferable skills you have learned that you can carry into this new position.
Tip #2 - Take Notes
Before the interview, I like to bullet key points I found in my research that may be important to remember about the company going into the conversation. I recommend reading this over before the start of the interview so it is fresh in your mind, and it can even be handy to have this document pulled up in another tab on your computer during the interview (if it is virtual). However, make sure it is just there for reference, and don’t let it distract you from the conversation. Additionally, feel free to take down any information learned during your interview that may be important for the next round of interviews, or the role itself. This information will be helpful to review during the next steps of the recruitment process!
Tip #3 - Practice
The more comfortable you are answering basic interview questions, the more confident you will feel walking into the interview. Some of the basic questions to be prepared for are:
Tell me about yourself.
Why are you interested in working for this company/in this position?
What strengths would you bring into this role?
How do you stay organized / stay on track to handle multiple deadlines?
When responding to these questions, use the STAR method to ace your answers. STAR is an acronym that stands for:
Situation: Set the scene and give necessary details for the example you are explaining.
Task: Describe your responsibility in the situation.
Action: Explain the steps you took to address the situation.
Result: Share the outcomes your actions achieved, with any relevant quantifiable information.
This method will help you stay more focused on answering the question at hand, and help your interviewer follow the story you're telling. Also, be sure to incorporate any keywords from the job description into your answers if relevant to the situation.
As weird as it might sound, you should practice answering these questions by recording yourself talking! Watch the recording to see how many times you say filler words like “um” and “uh,” which can distract the interviewer from your answers. This is a great way to help yourself improve your responses. Or, if you feel comfortable with it, ask a friend or family member to do a mock interview with you to practice saying your responses to another human being.
It is also important NOT to memorize a script for these questions. Simply just have some key points in mind, and let the conversation flow with the recruiter!
Tip #4 - Be Yourself, and Ask Questions
Remember that an interview is a two-way street. Even though you are being interviewed for the role and to see if you would be a good fit for the company, make sure you also evaluate if you think the company would be a good fit for you. Be genuine in your responses, and don’t try to be someone you're not. Treat the interview as a conversation, and show them the best version of yourself!
I recommend focusing on getting a feel for the company’s culture by asking if the recruiter can elaborate on the culture from their perspective. This can be by asking questions on topics such as:
Is work done independently or in teams?
Are there any BRGs (business resource groups)?
What is your favorite part about working for this company, and why have you stayed here for as long as you have?
Having some insight into the internal environment can be a big deciding factor for you when considering if you would personally want to move forward with the hiring process, if the opportunity arises.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions you may have regarding specific responsibilities or projects you may be working on in the role, if you have them. Going the extra step to ask questions shows the recruiter that you care about the role, and they expect you to ask questions. I recommend having at least three questions prepared!
Tip #5 - Follow Up With a Thank You Note
You should ALWAYS thank the interviewer for their time and consideration at the conclusion of your interview. Sending along a thank you note after your interview or even the day after, is a lost art that can make a big difference. For example, say a recruiter is deciding between two great applicants for a given role. One sent along a thank you note, and the other didn’t. The recruiter may lean towards giving the position to the applicant who wrote the note, as it shows they care about the position, and the time the recruiter spent talking with them.
In your thank you letter you should reference key conversation points and any important information you took away from the interview. This is a great chance to reiterate your key qualifications for the role, how you think the role would be a great fit, and your overall interest in the position.
It is no question that interviews can be daunting, and extremely nerve wracking. However, there are many ways to make the preparation process easier for yourself by doing your research and practicing, as I outlined above. I hope these tips may help you feel more confident in your next interview!