Time to Read: 6 Minutes
Congrats! You’ve made it through the paper-pushing, resume reading, phone screening phases of what has likely been an exhausting job search. Next up: the in-person (or video) interview. You’re undoubtedly among a small pool of highly-qualified candidates vying for the same role. To help you navigate the process, here are six tips for job seekers to ensure you make a great impression and increase your chances of getting hired!
- Body language & energy
The adage is true: actions speak louder than words. Your body language and energy, especially in a virtual setting, greatly impact how you come across during the interview and how interested you appear in the company and the job.
Here are some other tips for job seekers to help project confidence, excitement, and professionalism through your body language:
- Maintain good posture and eye contact: Sit or stand upright with your shoulders relaxed, back straight, and chin parallel to the ground. Good posture and eye contact exudes confidence and show you are attentive and engaged. During a virtual interview, make sure you are looking at the screen with the camera and not the secondary monitor.
- Smile: A genuine smile can help create a positive impression and establish rapport. It shows that you are approachable and enthusiastic about the opportunity. It also helps your tone inflection sound more energetic.
- Display energy & excitement: Nowadays, many interviews are done over applications like Zoom. But what gets lost on video calls versus in-person interviews is the opportunity for genuine engagement. That’s why it’s important that a candidate consciously shows excitement for what the company is doing and the position itself. If a hiring manager doesn’t feel like you are excited about the opportunity, they are quick to make assumptions that you are just looking for a job and not really passionate or that interested in what they are doing. A sentence or two about why you are interested in this role specific to the company is key.
- Avoid fidgeting: Nervous habits like tapping your foot, playing with your hair, or constantly adjusting your clothing can distract and indicate anxiety. Try to remain calm and composed, using your energy to focus on the conversation instead of restless movements. Remember, pausing and taking a breath during the interview is ok.
- Ensure your background is clean & organized: Avoid displaying anything that could distract or otherwise “turn off” the interviewer, such as but not limited to: political affiliation paraphernalia; objects that move, reflect light or make sound; signage or books that could be perceived as offensive. When in doubt, blur it out.
- Write out your accomplishments
It can be near impossible to remember all of your achievements from previous jobs, especially as they relate to the position you are applying for. This is why it’s critical to write down your successes and responsibilities from previous jobs before the interview. The more succinct you can answer the questions, the higher the chance you will nail the interview. And yes, it’s ok to read this information if asked, showing how prepared you are.
Tips for job seekers when talking about yourself:
- When discussing your current and previous employers, be able to explain what they offered (such as their products or services) in one to two simple sentences. This demonstrates your ability to clearly and briefly communicate the value of an organization. Have a lot of experience? The rule of thumb is to have this information to share for the past 5 years of your employment.
- Highlight your role and responsibilities in a sentence or two. Candidates that ramble on and go into tons of detail lose the interviewer and come across as being long-winded with poor active listening skills.
- Have a clear understanding of your job targets or goals and be able to articulate them. Also, be prepared to discuss your accomplishments from the past five years of work experience. Avoid sharing excessive details unless specifically asked. Remember, the priority is to answer the questions effectively rather than focusing solely on demonstrating your qualifications. Keep in mind that time is limited during an interview. Write this out to keep yourself committed to being concise.
- Go through each bullet on your resume and write out the “why or what” behind it. If you find the bullet doesn’t have a compelling or beneficial story, remove it. Inversely it helps cement the “why” into your memory for recall during interviews.
- Nail commonly asked questions
Questions like, “Why are you wanting to leave your current job” or “Tell me about yourself” are almost guaranteed to be asked regardless of the role you’re applying for. Why? Because they work and genuinely help interviewers assess candidates.
But we know they can also be intimidating for a job seeker because they are looked at as make-or-break questions during the interview. This is what causes a lot of candidates to overshare and provide too many details, often not even answering the question asked. Remember the format of answering the question in one sentence and provide details if asked.
Tips for job seekers on how to answer the most common cliché interview questions:
- Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: Give them your current position and title. Share three strengths or areas where you add value. Let the interviewer know what you want to do next and move on. This shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds tops
- Q: Why do you want to leave your current job?
A: Give a professional and high-level answer; no storytelling. Stay away from details that sound like you are bad-mouthing your employer. Focus on what this specific opportunity excites you to bring it back to the company.
- Q: Why do you want to work here?
A: Express your passion for the company/company’s product/services/mission. Explain why you would enjoy the responsibilities of the role. Describe how you can see yourself succeeding in the role.
- Do your research
The first step is to know the role and employer well. Doing a little bit of research to understand the company’s value prop and open role gives you valuable talking points about the specific credentials, experiences, and professional training required for the role. Gaining a high-level understanding of the roles the industry services, their ICP (look at case studies & testimonials), as well as the personas the sales & CS teams are typically working with
Furthermore, being in tune with the latest products, services, and happenings within an organization demonstrates you are ambitious, organized, and truly interested in the position. It also shows your ability to learn. When a candidate is knowledgeable on this level, the conversation will come naturally and you might just find yourself interviewing the interviewer.
Tips for job seekers: do the necessary homework before the interview to show you are proactive, interested, and invested in being a part of the company to which you are applying.
- Ask meaningful questions
Questions to ask an interviewer are endless and can range from company culture and compensation to job-specific inquiries like current challenges and target goals they want the hired candidate to reach. Interviewers appreciate candidates who ask questions throughout the hiring process as it shows their engagement and eagerness to learn. It is important to note that responding with “No, I don’t have any questions at this time” is not ideal during any interview, including the initial screening.
Decide what’s most important to you and make a list. Make sure you aren’t asking the same questions in every interview, but most importantly, build upon your questions. This is key to learning more about the company. Having trouble coming up with questions as you progress? A good tip for job seekers is to pretend you got hired for the role and have to start work tomorrow. What questions would you have if this was the case? Some of the answers you can find online or in the job description. But if the answer is unclear, ask.
Tips for job seekers on necessary questions to ask include:
- “Can you describe a typical day in the life of someone in this role?”
- “Can you explain the distinctions between your top performers and those who didn’t succeed?”
- “What goals do you expect from a new hire in this role after the first three months?”
- “What challenges does the team currently face?”
- “What is one word you would use to describe the work culture?”
- “What are your company’s remote work policies?”
- Follow up
Our final tip for job seekers is to ensure you’re clear on the next steps before leaving (or signing off) the interview. While you might not get an exact date for hiring, you should know an estimated timeline for decision-making. Also, the interviewer should make clear what to expect if you are chosen for the role. For example, undergoing a background check, submitting any additional paperwork, drug testing, etc. If this information isn’t offered, ask so you can prepare.
Next, within the same-day interview, send a quick thank you email to the hiring manager. Mention one more specific thing that stood out to you during the interview, any questions you still have, and close with your enthusiasm to hear back from them soon. Now the hard part…wait.
If, in the end, you aren’t offered the job, you can ask for a feedback note. Not all hiring managers or recruiters have time to craft one, but you might be surprised at what you can get if you ask. To do this, send a brief email thanking the interviewer once again for their time and ask for constructive feedback on what you can do better in the future to improve your chances of getting a job.
Check out our Go-To-Market Interview Guide for the top five tips to implement a diversity hiring plan.