4 Key Tips for a Successful Interview was originally published on Firsthand.
Interviewing for a new job can be a stressful, regardless of whether it’s your first time or if you’re a seasoned interview veteran. We’ve provided some great tips in the past to help you prepare for and conduct a successful interview, but there’s always more to learn on our never-ending journey towards wisdom. So, in the spirit of said journey, we’ve put together a list of even more great tips to help you interview like a pro. Let’s get started.
Different Types of Interviews
When preparing for an interview, ask the company’s Human Resources representative or your recruiter which type of interview you’ll be dealing with. Due to recent world events, many companies may be conducting interviews via Skype, Zoom, or any number of available video communication services. In this event, be sure to set yourself up in a spot where there won’t be any distracting items or décor in the background, or alternatively, use one of the backgrounds provided by services such as Zoom – just make sure it’s appropriate.
Some employers will require you to conduct multiple interviews, whether they’re spread out over the course of several days, or all in succession. For these types of interviews, make sure you’re consistent with how you talk about yourself and your experience. If you’re conducting practice interviews, increase the amount of time you practice so you build up interview stamina. Lastly, if you’re faced with a phone interview, make sure you find a spot that is free from outside noise and distraction.
Prepare for Skill Tests
When interviewing for certain types of jobs, you may be tasked with taking some sort of skill test. If you’ve used online job search engines such as Indeed, you may already be familiar with the concept of taking such tests, which employers use to gauge a candidate’s level of knowledge and experience in any given field. Prospective employers will typically notify a candidate of whether there will be a skill test during the interview process.
To prepare for a skill test, you can take sample tests online or seek out a prep book if time permits. This is especially helpful if you haven’t taken a test in a long time, as it will put you in the right frame of mind and help you build confidence leading up to the test. Often, the stress and anxiety of taking the test are bigger obstacles than the information itself, so it pays to familiarize yourself with applying your knowledge in a test setting.
Plan for The Unexpected
This one may seem paradoxical since we can’t actually plan for things we don’t expect will happen, but what we can do is prepare to handle ourselves in an unexpected situation. Interviews are live, and they’re taking place in the now, which makes them unpredictable in nature. Even if you’ve meticulously prepared yourself and put in hours upon hours of practice, things can get weird if you get caught off guard by a question and you’re left sitting in uncomfortable silence in the face of the interviewer.
Here’s the good news – this happens to the best of us, and there are ways to buy yourself some time while you organize your thoughts and put together a concise answer. Since we’re already sitting up straight and smiling confidently, the least obvious way to buy ourselves some time when we’re caught off guard is to politely repeat the question as we search for the appropriate answer. This will also demonstrate to the interviewer that you’re being thoughtful about what you’re going to say next. The most important thing here is to remain calm. Remember, you know the answer because you’ve put the practice time in, so relax and take your time; the answer will come to you.
The STAR Method
The STAR Method is a great way to train yourself to organize your thoughts when answering questions during your interview. It’s especially useful when describing an instance in which you successfully displayed skill in solving a problem or otherwise helped improve some aspect of your previous company. STAR is an acronym that stands for the following:
- Situation: Provide the interviewer with the background of the situation you’re talking about. Try to be brief, but concise.
- Task: Here, tell your interviewer what role you played in the situation.
- Action: Describe what steps you took in the situation, and why you decided to take those steps.
- Result: The result is…well, the result of the actions you took in the situation. When talking about the result, make sure you tell the interviewer what you learned from the situation.
If you’re conducting practice interviews, the STAR Method is a useful way to learn to consistently answer a question or tell a story while being well structured and organized. Over time, you’ll get into the habit of answering questions while using the STAR Method and it will become second nature.
When it comes to interviewing, planning and practice are key; however, the best way to learn and improve is through trial and error with real interviews. As you navigate your career, take note of your strengths and weaknesses in interviewing, and work to streamline your process. With these tips and some experience under your belt, you’ll be interviewing like a pro in no time.