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How To Steal The Spotlight At An Interview

How To Steal The Spotlight At An Interview

You spruced up your resume, destroyed the photocopier, and managed to land yourself an interview. Congratulations! But what’s next? You’ve done the easy part getting an interview, now you need to make yourself really stand out from the crowd and turn an interview into a job. Interviews can be really daunting experiences, but on the whole they all tend to follow a very similar format, and there are loads of things you can do to get yourself in the right frame of mind and prepared to steal the limelight from the other applicants. Here’s what you need to do, starting from the beginning:

Preparing for an Interview

Getting yourself ready for the day of the interview is probably the most important part of the whole process. Most companies will give you approximately a week between the day they invite you and the day of the interview. This is to give you ample time to prepare yourself as they wish to see you at your best, and so don’t procrastinate – prepare!

Rehearse Typical Questions

Many interviewers will ask similar questions no matter what the field or sector, as they are looking for more personal views rather than expertise-based notions when looking to hire. They want to make sure your desires match up with the companies, and that you will fit into the culture. Glassdoor sifted through thousands of interviews and put together the 100 most common interview questions. It’s best to run through a list like this, and see if you can prepare and plan the points you want to mention, and try to remember the key points and not a speech – sounding rehearsed in an interview often comes across quite negatively.

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Relate to your Resume

When you’ve considered how you want to answer the questions, try and relate your answers to evidence you can find within your resume. Nothing ties together a stronger argument to hire you than you being able to reflect what you have learned and how you have developed, as well as being able to notice your flaws. When considering your flaws, try and highlight how this job will help you develop and concentrate on them alongside strengthening your existing skills. However, be careful in doing this, as they may think you are trying to freeload on their training and development opportunities. Something along these lines:

Although I’ve not previously worked in a managerial role, I have worked amongst many teams and have adopted somewhat of a leadership role, such as a project in [Company]’s Marketing Department. It will be a great challenge to myself, and I am at a position within my career where I am ready to take that step.

(Need help with your Resume? Check out 10 Tips on How to Craft the Perfect Resume)

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Prepare Yourself Mentally

Think about how many people you are competing against probably for one job. You need to prove not only to the company, but to yourself, that you are worthy of the role and that you deserve to have the job. Look through your experiences, your skill set, and highlight to yourself why you deserve the job, and what benefits you can bring to the company. This will have clear knock-on effects to your confidence, the way you present yourself, and will be noticed by those at the interview.

Pre-Interview Communications

This is one area people often forget to consider. You will be communicating with a company or interview prior to the interview, and these first impressions can have a serious impact on how they will consider you following and during the interview. If you’re applying to a large corporate firm, be formal in all communications with them, and thank them for the opportunity (not every time, but at least once!). Again, how you communicate with them will depend on the existing company culture, and this can be a great way to evaluate whether or not you feel the company will be a suitable fit for yourself. Also, if you are unsure, ask about the dress code of the interview. There’s nothing worse than turning up to an interview in suit to find everyone else in jeans and a polo shirt.

Interview Day

Dress the Part

Think about the interview process. You probably emailed a resume, corresponded via phone or email to book in the interview, and now you’ve arrived at the door. This is the first time they will physically see you. That said, your first impressions will be lasting. It’s important that you dress to impress, but also dress appropriately. If they say dress professionally, make sure your suit is clean and ironed, your belt and shoes match (a winning tip for any outfit!), and you are well groomed. Ladies, not too heavy on the make-up; a sleek, a natural look gives off a great elegant and sophisticated vibe, as well as confidence. The outfit isn’t everything though, make sure you have the body language to match (we’ll talk about this further on).

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Be on Time

So the day has come. Make sure you prepared your journey, have a fresh copy of your resume just in case, and you’re presentable and dressed appropriately. Give yourself adequate time to arrive there early, I always suggest trying to get there about 20 minutes early, and sign in or make it known that you are there. Although they probably will not see you earlier, them knowing that you are eager and that you have arrived on time, but not ridiculously early, is a sign of good organization skills. Many people will arrive early and wait until 5 minutes before to make it known that they have arrived, but you’re competing – take every minor advantage you can get.

Body Language

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Everyone has heard a saying along those lines, but there is so much importance in it. I am aware of at least two people who have been turned down for a job because they seemed “too relaxed” or “not passionate enough” because of the way they were sitting in the interview. Keep your body language open and interested (sit up, shoulders back, open arms), and try not to fidget. Being in control of your body is a great way to show you are a confident. Some great ways to practice body language are to record yourself in a mock interview setting and analyze afterwards. Study public speakers and famous figures in interview settings (on  the news, talk shows, etc.) and see how they compose themselves and try to mimic them. Another great trick is to try and mimic the behaviors of the interviewer subtly. If you do this too obviously it can be very noticeable and somewhat off-putting, but in general people subconsciously mimic the behaviors of people they like as a form of trying to gain acceptance and trust. Although this normally happens fairly naturally, its a good thing to be aware of.

Be Confident, Be Honest

Following on a similar note from Body Language, be careful in the language you choose as well during the interview. Avoid weak phrases such as “I feel that…”, “I think that…” as they show doubt in your opinions. Rather, simply state “I am…”, “It is…” and it shows not only confidence in what you are saying, but that you have previously reflected and have created assertions based upon this (especially if the point is regarding past experiences or situations). With regards to honestly, do not lie about what your previous jobs entailed, but simply be honest with what you’ve achieved before and where you wish you could improve. By being dishonest you may open yourself up for danger in the future, if your expertise are ever called upon, and it will cause friction within the group dynamic of the workplace. Do not be ashamed if you feel like your achievements are little compared to others of the same age or field, everyone has to start somewhere!

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Prepare Questions

Do your homework on the company you’re applying to and have some questions prepared which are meaningful to you. Maybe consider whether or not the company culture is right for you, and ask about the office space and the dynamic of the office, or about work do’s-and-dont’s. If not that, maybe ask about what a typical day will entail, or how much autonomy you will have – whatever is important in a role to you. Not only will asking questions benefit you, it will show the interviewers that you are assessing your fit to the company, and will help make sure that both you and the company will mesh together well.

Summary

And there you have it, a few tips and tricks about handling the interview situation. I would say the biggest thing really to consider is confidence. Confidence is so important in so many ways as it will help you: a) Decide which companies are the right fit for all your aspects and you won’t simply rush into anything just because they offered you the job. b) Stand out during the interview process, but be sure you know the line between confidence and egotistical c) Keep you in the forefront of employer’s and interviewer’s minds in case opportunities arise elsewhere or in the future. Interviews are not necessarily just a yes/no, but can be great networking opportunities too. I wish you all the best with your interviews in the future, and hope you get the dream job and progress through your aspired career!

Featured photo credit: S. Charles via ununsplash.imgix.net

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Kerim Hudson

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Last Updated on June 25, 2019

How to Ace an Interview: 10 Tips from a Professional Career Advisor

How to Ace an Interview: 10 Tips from a Professional Career Advisor

Wondering how to ace an interview? In this article, you will learn everything you need to nail your dream job — from resume submission to the end of the interview cycle.

In order to land a job interview, you must start with submitting a great resume. Submitting resumes is generally done by, “apply now”, the way many apply for consideration to a job requisition. Even if not applying the tradition way, let’s say, emailing someone in your network about an opportunity- you will still need a great resume.

So first thing first, work on your resume.

Today in the United States, 98% of organizations use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to extract information from an applicant’s resume to build a digital applicant profile that can be searched, filtered, and/or ranked.[1] So, a resume that is ATS friendly is part one for landing and acing a job interview.

To do this, a resume must have certain formatting and keywords to get the resume through the scan and into the hands of a recruiter. Without a resume that works with and for today’s technology and requirements, an interview can be difficult to land.

Here’s a great DIY Resume Guide (Do it Yourself Resume Guide) to help you craft an ATS and Recruiter friendly resume:[2]

There used to be a time where a job application was enough, today, an ATS friendly resume leads all methods in landing a job interview.

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Now, let’s talk about acing that interview.

A job interview is part 2 of the job application process. An interview is where applicants that have met the minimum requirements are selected to discuss the job opportunity with the employer or hiring manager.

Interviews are generally conducted via telephone, in person, and or applications/technology such as Skype. When the interview is landed, these 10 tips will help you ace the job interview:

1. Going for a Job Opportunity That Speaks to Your Passion

Having a passion for the job/ industry is extremely important. Doing something that aligns with inner passion is important for quality of life.

People that have passion for the job that they are interviewing for generally have better interview experiences. When we talk about what we love, it is seen in our faces, our body language, and heard in our tone. Here’re 10 Reasons Why Following Your Passion Is More Important Than Money.

In short, consideration of talents, discovering the things that make you happy and sad, and what you love losing yourself in.

2. Study the Job Description: Essential Job Functions and Qualification Requirements

Doing this will allow you the opportunity to develop examples of past and present experience that relate to the essential job functions and required qualifications.

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Examples of experience is always a plus for interviewers, painting a full picture goes a long way. Even when not asked for an example, it is always a plus to tie answers to interview questions to examples from your experience.

If there is a portfolio (work samples: images, writing samples, published work, videos, awards, etc.) of work- that’s even better!

3. Research the Company and the Interviewer(s)

Being an employee means entering into a relationship with an employer. In many areas of life, research is done prior to committing; researching a company prior to an interview is no different.

It is important to determine if the company is a good fit and therefore makes it easier to answer “why do you want to work here?” It helps better verbalize how past experience, skills, and values align with the company’s mission, and it shows the interviewer that you are interested in more than just a job.

4. Think Positive and Tap into Confidence

Positivity exudes confidence and both are necessary, so the employers knows that trust can be given.

Thoughts lead to action, therefore, operating from a positive perspective will reveal confidence. The goal of the interview is to land the job offer; employers need to believe that you believe in yourself so that they can believe you. Here are a few tips for positive thinking.

5. Have Copies of the Resume Used to Apply for the Job

It’s always good to be ready for extra interviewers in the room; many interviews today are panel interviews/ multi-person interviews.

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Though a resume was likely submitted with the application, it is always a good idea to come with extra copies in anticipation of the potential need. If there was no resume submission, it is crucial that you provide a copy during the interview; doing this shows the employer preparedness and resolution to challenges.

6. Plan for Behavior Based Interview Questions

Most companies use pre-selected questions, often times having a list of behavior-based questions. Usually these questions start with: “provide an example of”, “tell me about a time when”, and/or “describe a time/situation when”.

Having examples of problems solved and strategies used, initiatives led, contributions to teams and departments, will help ace a job interview. Painting a picture to help employers see skills, qualifications, and experience is extremely important during a job interview.

7. Make a List of Selling Points

It’s important to be proactive about the selling points that you want to make in an interview. This is where a portfolio works great! It is a great idea to make a list of selling points that reaffirms and demonstrates skills, qualifications, and experience.

Consider: awards, programs/ processes launched that led to cost savings and/or profitability, training/education, etc.

8. Showcase a Mixture of Personality and Professionalism

Companies like to make sure that interviewees are a good match for the company culture. Having a good balance of personality and professionalism during a job interview is key.

Personality can be shown when discussing hobbies, community service or extracurricular activities in answers to behavior-based questions, when describing your passion, and when discussing selling points.

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9. Have Your Questions Ready- Interviewing Isn’t One-Sided

Interviews are two-sided, like all relationships (an employee and employer agreement is a type of relationship). Before entering in many relationships, we all have a set of questions that we need answers to, prior to making the decision to commit.

Beyond doing this for self (because asking questions helps reduce doubt and uncertainty), it also shows the employer that there is interest in the company and its future and, shows that you are informed.

Here are a few considerations: “Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?”, “Why is this position open?”, and “What qualifications/ skills are important to succeed in this role?” You can also take a look at this guide for more idea: 7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

10. Follow-up with a Thank You Note

Interviewers love gratitude. Sending a “thank you for taking the time to discuss the job opening with me”, is very important to acing an interview.

Interviewers discuss one job opening with many applicants. A thank you note can serve as gratitude and the final chance to showcase selling points. This is also the opportunity to address any concerns that the interviewer may have had in the interview.

Summing It up

Consider a job interview a house. the foundation for acing a job interview is passion. The frame is a resume that lands the interview. The plumbing and electrical are showing up with confidence, providing a list of selling points, having examples of your experience and qualifications, and engaging the interviewer. The roof is showing gratitude with a thank you note.

More Tips About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Nik MacMillan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Jobscan: What is an Applicant Tracking System?
[2] Veronica Castillo: New Job- DIY Resume

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