How to Nail the Interview Process
Updated: Feb 7
There are not many processes in life more nerve-wracking than the interview process. From start to finish it is a grueling and lengthy ordeal that few people if any, find enjoyable. Unless you are educated on the process, you may lose the limited amount of control that you possess to the company or companies that you are interviewing with. As someone who has been interviewed as well as worked on the other side of the desk as the interviewer, here are a few of my tips on how to nail the interview process.
Sounds Exciting on Paper
So many opinions have been circulated on how to build the perfect resume and what it takes to catch the eye of a recruiter browsing over the summary of your work life in a matter of seconds. None of the opinions are completely wrong since it is important to remember that the way you write for each type of industry will be a little different. In general, however, my philosophy for resumes is that it should make you sound interesting. Writing a good resume is key to standing out from the competition. Reflect on each job you have had and compile a list of two or three responsibilities that you performed while in that role that you loved and were always excited to do.
Whether that is a work trip that you went on or a day to day responsibility, make sure that you highlight it at the top of your bullet point list. When you are in the interview talking about your experience, this will give you the opportunity to talk about what you are the most interested in and will give the interviewer the best picture of what you are passionate about.
Follow First Date Standards When Getting Ready
Interviews, like first dates, should be taken very seriously when it comes to appearance, the way you interact with the others, and the way you talk about yourself. From the moment you walk through the door you are sending out signals. These signals reveal how excited you are to be there, how seriously you take this opportunity, how serious you take yourself, and how much you value the other person’s time. Since you only have a matter of minutes to make a good impression, pay close attention to the visual and nonverbal vibes that you are sending out. Dress nicely and speak with respect. Ask clear and concise questions and have an understanding of what you want to cover in the conversation and what you expect from this opportunity.
Remember that the interview process goes both ways, you are also dating the company, so be ready with questions and show genuine interest in what that company does.
Make an Impression
The traits that make up your personality are what companies and universities have termed the “soft skills”. When an interviewer asks about your strengths, this is your time to talk about the soft skills you possess that will make you an exceptional employee. Skills like integrity, perseverance, drive, and respect are critical to success in business. The lack of skills such as these are normally what results in employees being let go, not a lack of experience. Know your personality strengths and empathize them to your potential employer. An interview can feel very tense and uncomfortable so remind yourself as often as you need to relax and enjoy the conversation.
Confidence will help assure your interviewer that you are being honest and you are a genuine person, which will help them to relate to you. Just like a date, there are a few essentials to having a good interview and finding common ground early on to help build a bond is a great way to start and to make the interview feel more natural. People want to work with people that they like, so make a good impression.
Know Where Your Experience Shines
Once you have discussed the soft skills, it is time to get into the hard and cold facts. Talking about your experience or your “hard skills” can seem like bragging and can be daunting for humble people. This is where prior preparation and a thorough understanding of where your experience lies is so critical. If you have ten years of experience in the food industry and you interview for an engineering job your chances of getting that job are very small unless the interviewer happens to be a close friend. Make sure that you are ready to discuss all of your past experiences, but take a look at the job description and responsibilities and plan ahead what areas of experience you have had that make you qualified to perform those duties. Again, you can refer to the areas of your experience that you are most excited about so that the interviewer can get a solid understanding of your hard skills and where you would excel on their team.
Help Out Your Recruiters, They Are Human Too
Once the interview is complete and you have left the building, that is when the suspense starts to build. Often the person who interviews you will just shake your hand and say goodbye and you are left to wonder if you even made a good impression. Your work is not over, however, because in the day of modern technology and email the etiquette surrounding professional dialogue has changed. It is a good idea to send a brief thank you to the recruiter or hiring manager that you have been corresponding with within 24 hours of the interview. This small touch sends a signal to the company that you are excited about the role and it gives them the opportunity to request any additional information they may need. If days have passed with no response, feel free to touch base and ask respectfully for an update.
Remember that recruiters are human too and sometimes juggle many different job openings, so do your part to stay in touch with them. Take responsibility for keeping the ball rolling, especially if it is an exceptional role.