Interview Skills

Your Resume and Cover Letter will get your foot in the door but the Interview is what lands the job!

Congratulations!

Your resume and cover letter paid off and you have earned an interview!  Take a moment to celebrate this success.  Studies show that the average job opening receives 250 resumes.   Of these only 4-6 will be called in for an interview.  So, receiving the call that you have been selected to interview is an achievement worth pausing and celebrating!

Modern City
Keyboard and Mouse

Interview Preparation

Revision Resume advises you spend a bit of time preparing ahead of time for your upcoming interview.  This will help you stand out compared to the other candidates.  We believe the time you invest preparing will be very beneficial and well worthwhile.  Here the steps we suggest you take to prepare (read "5 Tips for How to Prepare for an Interview" for more detailed information):

  • Closely review your resume and the job posting you are interviewing for.

  • Research the company and prepare questions to ask the interviewer.

  • Be prepared to state why you are the best candidate for the position.

  • Practice answering the classic difficult questions ahead of time.

  • Use a camera or mirror when practicing so you can see how you appear to the interviewer.

When an interviewer is evaluating a candidate, they are looking at how the person will fit in with the company culture.  They are also trying to determine how the job-seeker will adjust to changes.  Many people think questions asked during an interview are meant to determine their intelligence. However, emotional intelligence and ability to handle adversity is really what is often being evaluated during interviews.  Intelligence is necessary to learn how to do the job but emotional intelligence is required to communicate effectively with co-workers and the ability to handle adversity is needed when the job changes.  'What if' questions are often asked during a job interview to gauge these important skills.

Has the Pandemic Changed How to Prepare for an Interview?

Yes, it has.  Many candidates have gaps between jobs due to the pandemic.  During the interview candidates with a career gap may be asked to explain why they were out of work.  An interviewee should prepare for this question and have an answer ready.  

Even those with a continuous work history may find they have to answer pandemic related questions.  A job-seeker may be asked to describe how they developed personally since 2020 or if they overcame any challenges.  Suggestions for ways to answer these challenging questions can be found in our detailed blog titled "Pandemic Interview Questions?  Yes, Be Prepared.

 

In general, it is best to handle COVID-19 interview questions by:

  • Gearing your answer so it demonstrates a character trait such as resiliency.

  • Avoiding mentioning politics (this is always wise in an interview regardless of the question being asked).

  • Avoiding oversharing.  Just keep your answer short and simple.

Last Minute Interview Preparation

The night before the interview it is important to determine the last minute details. 

  • What will you wear?  Revision Resume recommends selecting professional attire. 

  • Do you know the route and the travel time?  Make sure you give yourself extra time in case you encounter construction or a car accident.  It is better to be early than to rush in late and flustered.

  • Do you have a pen and paper ready to bring with you?  Are your prepared questions written down so you are ready to ask when offered the opportunity?

  • Consider printing a copy (or multiple copies) of your resume to bring with you.

  • Re-look at the job posting one last time so you know what they are seeking and can answer questions in a way that demonstrates how you would fill that need.

Many interviews in 2021 are still being held virtually.  To learn more about the details that you need to focus on for a virtual interview, read our blog titled "Virtual Interview?  Tips for Success.

 

Keep in mind that you still want to make eye contact with the interviewer even though it is through the computer camera.  It is also important to have positive body language and maintain your focus on the interview throughout the duration.  It can be easy to take a more relaxed approach since you are in your home, but try your best to stay professional during the entire interview.

Laptop and Notebook
Businessmen

A Day Of Details

You have taken steps to set yourself up for success by preparing for both classic and pandemic related interview questions, dressing professionally, planning your route so you arrive on time, and preparing your own questions to ask the interviewer.  Now let's examine how to handle yourself during the interview so you stand out in a positive way!  In all of your interactions at the company you should attempt to:

  • Show confidence in yourself

  • Be respectful to everyone you meet

  • Demonstrate good manners and social skills

When answering questions be careful what you say.  If asked about your weaknesses, try to share something that is no longer a problem but was a past issue.  In general, try to provide answers that demonstrate your skills and abilities instead of just directly stating them without support.  Avoid overly generic statements and answer all questions in terms of the job that you are applying for.  

If asked a difficult question that you aren't prepared for, it is OK to ask for a moment to think about it or even to suggest returning to that question later so you have some time to consider it.

Recruiters and hiring managers have told us that they want to see the interviewee succeed!  If their resume has been selected, it is because they are a good fit for the position.  However, some interviewees make mistakes that take them out of the running for the job.  Here are five mistakes to avoid making (read more details in our blogs "5 Common Interview Errors" and "3 Things to Never Do at an Interview"):

  • Talk negatively about a former position or former manager

  • Take over the interview instead of providing concise answers

  • Get caught telling a lie

  • Arrive at the interview unprepared

  • Behave unprofessionally

Marble Surface

Ending the Interview

Revision Resume suggests that you don't make the same mistake many other candidates make.  They leave the interview without knowing if or when they will hear from the hiring manager or recruiter again.  Once they are home and a few days have passed, they wonder if they should call to follow up or if doing so will make them look desperate and negatively impact their job chances. It becomes a tricky situation because you don't want to pester the interviewer but it is fair to desire to know if you should start searching for a different opportunity.

 

It is possible the decision was made immediately after your interview but it is also possible that they have 4 more interviews scheduled over the next two weeks and they won't be getting back to you for a month. Instead of ending up in this land of uncertainty, make sure you have an expectation set BEFORE you depart the interview.  Ask the interviewer when you should expect to hear from them. That way, if they say they will be deciding in 2 weeks, you can feel comfortable reaching out to inquire after the 2 weeks has past.    

After the Interview

Immediately after the interview is complete you may want to jot down a few notes so have details to include in your value proposition letter (aka post-interview thank you note).  You will want to send it within 24-48 hours of the interview.  

It is also a good opportunity to reflect on how you think the interview went.  Here are some details to consider:

  • Does the job align with your interests and values?  If you are offered the position, will you consider taking it or has the interview changed your perception?

  • Did the interview go smoothly or are there things you would do differently in a future interview?  Any questions you wish you had provided a different answer to? 

Spending some time thinking through how the interview went is worthwhile so you can grow and learn from the experience.

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Graduation

Special Considerations 

College Graduates

College graduates obviously do not have the same work experience as those that have been in the workforce for a few years.  Therefore, they need to make a special effort to stand out compared to the competition.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Highlight the work experience you do have.  Internships and summer jobs provide a valuable opportunity to demonstrate soft-skills.  Don't overlook their importance for a hiring manager.

  • Include volunteer roles as part of your experience.  Even if you weren't paid, you likely had responsibilities that will translate to the job opening.

  • Pay special attention to making sure you appear, act and speak professionally.  

Older Workers

Older workers face the potential of ageism.  Companies may be biased toward a younger candidate over an older one.  Some suggestions to help overcome ageism include:

  • Highlight your experience.  This is a huge benefit to any company so you should emphasize that your many years in the workforce have provided you extensive experience that is beneficial for the job.

  • Demonstrate that you have kept up with technology and any updates that have occurred in your field.  Answer the questions in a way that highlights you are still up to date.

Revision Resume has written other blogs with details about how to handle an interview.  To read them click here.

Offered the Position?  Revision Resume's Suggestions on How to Decide!

Congratulations!  You were offered the position!  Now the ball is in your court and you get to decide if you want to accept. 

 

Although it may be tempting to immediately say yes if the income is what you requested, Revision Resume suggests you look beyond just pay.  Here are some additional details to consider:

  • Did you feel like the role was a good fit when you attended the interview?  Will you be happy working at this job both in the short and long-term?  We suggest you slow down and evaluate if this job will be right for you in the future, not just today.

  • Does the communication style of the team show respect for each other?

  • Does the company provide incentives or show employee appreciation?

  • What is the entire package they are offering?  Is the health insurance adequate? Are dental, vision and mental health benefits what you expected?

  • Do you get the vacation time you would like?

  • Will the work-life balance be acceptable for you? Are the hours each day and over the course of the week reasonable?

  • Are you working in the manner you preferred - remote, hybrid or full-time in the office?

  • Do they provide educational opportunities?  Mentoring? Will they invest in you through training and development?

Consider the entire job offer before you say yes.  Make sure you are satisfied with the package they are offering and the position you will be taking on.  Consider negotiating for what you would like if the job is appealing but the offer is inadequate.

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