Reviewed by Josianne Campbell
As our economy gets back on track, getting an interview you feel excited about is a great first step either upward or in a new direction; however, it’s important to remember the job isn’t yours quite yet. You want to be engaged and interested in the position for which you’re interviewing in order to ensure you move onto the next step in the hiring process.
The interview and other processes may have changed due to the COVID pandemic, so being prepared for virtual or online interviews is important. Take a look at some of the tips below to impress interviewers, make sure the job is actually something you’re interested in, and ultimately ace your interview.
1. Learn as much as you can about the position and the company before the interview.
Do your research by reading about the company online, speaking to people you know who may work there, and studying their ratings on career websites. This shows the interviewer you’ve done your research and are familiar with their culture. It will also line up questions for you to ask that showcase your knowledge.
2. Dress for success.
First impressions matter, even during a virtual or ZOOM interview, so keep in mind that you want to fit in with the culture of your prospective company. If you’re sitting in your living room rather than their offices, it’s still better to be overdressed than underdressed (pro tip: wear pants!). Also, pay attention to the background and noise you share in a virtual meeting. In order to put your best foot forward, keep noise down (no kids or pets) and make sure what’s on camera behind you is professional as well.
3. Send a copy of your resume and keep a notebook & pen handy to take notes.
Showing up for any meeting prepared sets the tone for the interview and helps you to avoid feeling flustered. If the interview requires you to share samples of your work, keep the files handy and don’t wait until the last minute to prepare your best work.
4. Prepare questions to ask.
There will be a time in any interview when you’ll be asked if you have any questions. Being prepared avoids a blank look and demonstrates you did your research on the company as well as the interviewer. Good questions also show you’re interested in the position and you’ve listened to what has already been discussed.
5. Show up early (even if it is a virtual interview).
The U.S. Marines have a saying: “If you’re on time, you’re late.” Arriving late to an interview can cause you to feel stressed. Tardiness can also make the interviewer feel that you’re unreliable. If you interview in person, scout the location prior to your interview and allow plenty of time to commute, giving you a few minutes to mentally prepare when you arrive. If you interview virtually, log onto the meeting or call with time to spare and wait for the interviewer to arrive.
6. Show interest in what the interviewers are talking about.
Active listening is a skill that demonstrates you are involved in the conversation. Make and keep consistent eye contact, even through a webcam; use facial expressions and body language to show you’re engaged; and rephrase main points the speaker makes during the discussion. It’s easier to become distracted during an online meeting, so be sure to maintain focus throughout.
7. Save the money talk for follow-up conversations.
Unless the interviewer initiates the topic, leave salary discussions for a later date. Often, the first interview will narrow the candidate field, and a second, deeper discussion will occur with the best candidates and will include salary discussions.
8. Promptly write and send an individual thank you card or email.
Sending a courteous “thank you” to every interviewer you spoke with, noting something specific that you talked about in the interview when possible, will help embed a good impression following your interview. If you interviewed online, a follow-up can solidify their impression.
By following these steps, you can feel confident and prepared walking or Zooming into your next interview. Preparing for an interview properly will help you ace the initial and follow-up interviews, and presenting yourself well is even more important as we work through COVID related work and economic issues. Remember, you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. Do your research, show up prepared in any venue, and feel confidently well prepared for a seamless interview process.