Advice to Ace the Interview

Advice to Ace the Interview
6 Tips to Help you Get The Job

By Hunter Laine

It’s been a hard few months for the workforce and job seekers alike. California alone suffered a loss of nearly 2.9 million jobs from the start of the COVID-19 onset to April, leaving a 15.5% unemployment rate. Early estimates based on unemployment claims in process suggest that the current number might actually be closer to 25% unemployment statewide. Being out of work during this time is scary, uncertain, and more than a little uncomfortable – and SO MANY of us are.  

Take the time now to brush up on your interview skills! That way, when you get the interview for that job you’ve been hoping for, you can go in confidently and land it.  

1. Know your stories, but don’t memorize them. 

Going into an interview can be scary. It feels like you are taking a test and asking the proctor to judge who you are. But what makes an interview so much better than a normal test? You know all of the answers, because they’re all about you! You’ve been an integral part of all of your past experiences. Keep that in mind and try not to formulate answers that you memorize verbatim for all of the questions you think you might get asked. For one thing, if the questions they ask vary slightly from what you’re expecting (or not so slightly), you might have trouble regrouping on the spot. Similarly, if you lose your train of thought midway through an answer, you’ll be struggling to pick up where you left off in your monologue instead of thinking about where you are in describing your real-life experience. It’s much harder to come back from that.

Instead, come up with three or four stories from your past experiences that demonstrate your abilities. A story about you fixing an issue quickly amongst your team could demonstrate your problem-solving abilities, ability to think on your feet under pressure, your leadership skills, or ability to communicate effectively. Your experiences don’t each fit into one neat box that only applies to one question. You can edit the way you speak about them so that with any question you’re asked, you have a story at the ready. 

2. Practice with trusted people. 

Before the interview, talk through your stories and experiences out loud with someone you trust. Not only will they help you feel more comfortable through practice, their outside perspective can be invaluable. Working through your experiences with someone who is further away from them can help you to extract the value. It is sometimes hardest for us to see our own worth and contributions to any given situation. Just make sure that you feel safe and comfortable with the person you practice with. The worst thing that you can do before an interview is feel mocked or embarrassed about your responses. Only constructive support is welcome at this time! 

3. Learn about the company beforehand. 

If the job or company is something that really lines up with your interests, this is a no-brainer. But, let’s face it, we’ve all gone to interviews knowing that this one is probably not our dream job. It is still important to take it seriously and read about the company. What is their mission statement? Who are their customers (or how do they make money)? Is their culture an important focus and if so, what are their values? Doing this research before the interview will make you feel a little bit calmer and more prepared, and it will also help you to come up with questions for the dreaded, “Do you have any questions for me?” Which reminds me… 

4. Have questions for your interviewer! 

You were almost done. You answered all of the questions, you built a rapport with your interviewer, and then they ask, “Do you have any questions for me?” And you freeze. Listen, if you are calm enough to make note of questions that come up along the way, that’s awesome. But give yourself a safety net and have some questions ready ahead of time. These don’t have to be, and really shouldn’t be, throw away questions. Really think, if this were a full-time part of my life, what are the things that would matter to me? Is it a specific question about the culture? About the chain of command and who you are reporting to? What resources will your boss give you to be successful? It is overused for a reason: this interview is as much for you to find out about the job/company as it is for them to find out about you. Take advantage of the time and free-flowing information! 

5. Bring extra hard copies of your resume. 

This one’s simpler than the others. When you’re going to a job interview, print out and bring at least one copy of your resume and any supplemental materials you applied with (cover letter, writing samples) for every person you’re interviewing with. Most of the time, they’ll stay in your folder and never get used. But people are busy and filling open job positions in today’s climate generally requires a whole lot of resume review and interviewing. Your interviewer may be rushed and running from meeting to meeting. They may have a whole pile of resumes to go through or simply forgot to bring yours. Instead of making them rifle through papers or run back to get your information, have it on hand for them. It can be helpful to them and shows that you are organized and prepared. 

Bonus: if you want a review of your resume, email Psinapse at [email protected] and request one.  We will read over your resume and schedule a free consultation to give our feedback and constructive assistance on how your resume reads and possible areas for improvement.

6. Always, always send a follow-up email. 

Sometimes when you finish an interview, you just want to be done. You aren’t quite yet. If you got the interview, chances are you were communicating via email. If this was directly with your interviewer, congratulations! You already have a means to contact them when the interview is over. If it was instead with a hiring manager or recruiter, you may not have a way to directly contact your interviewer. If this is the case, at the end of the interview, ask if they have a business card. Send a follow-up email thanking them for their time and highlighting something about them or the company that you found particularly engaging. This will show you were actively listening and interested and will keep you fresh in their mind as well. If you aren’t able to get their email address, you should still send an email to the person that you were initially in contact with. They will likely pass it along to your interviewer themselves.  

Interviewing is hard. (Almost) no one likes it. It is essentially putting yourself out there to be judged where the end result could be anything from a life-changing job to a slight bruise to your ego. Unfortunately, almost all of us will have to interview, and most of us many times, at one point or another. Treat it as a skill to be learned and mastered, remember that you are talking to real people, and focus on the successes from your past to propel you towards your next great opportunity.

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