With the New Year right around the corner, now is the perfect time to get a head start on your 2020 job search. If you’ve already polished your resume and started sending out applications, chances are you have started hearing back from some companies to schedule an initial phone screen or an interview. But if you haven’t been to a job interview in a while or if this is for a position you really want, it’s normal to look for guidance on how to maximize your chance of performing well.
Since not everyone has access to a college career center or a personal career coach, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best advice for how to handle job interviews, courtesy of leading experts in the industry. Here are some of our favorite pieces of advice from Career coaches, from the first handshake to the thank you note.
1 | Tell a story!
“The single most effective thing you can do in an interview is to make your experience come alive through stories or examples. … Telling a good story is the most powerful way to stand out from the competition, since our brains are wired to remember the imagery, the drama, and the emotion that’s conveyed in a good story.”
We always tell our candidates to tell their story – starting with their resume. Have friends and family read over your resume and ask them if your career progression makes sense, if questions about career gaps arise, and also if it’s generally clear and easy to read. Next, practice telling your career story before your interviews to make sure you’re able to communicate it in a clear and concise manner, especially if you’re looking to make a career change.
2 | Do your research and come with questions
“Most interviews will end with a chance for you to ask a few questions. Failure to ask anything may be interpreted as disinterest or a lack of preparation, so it is important to have a few questions ready. Some of your prepared questions may have already been answered during the interview, so always prepare more questions than you actually plan on asking.”
Kristen said it best! One of the best ways to show your excitement about a position is to come with insightful questions about it or about the company as a whole. It shows you’ve done your research, that you’re smart, and that you care about the role you’ll play there.
3 | Never badmouth a previous employer.
“No matter how you left things with your recent job, avoid badmouthing your former employer or letting your anger enter the interview room. You shouldn’t lie about the situation, but you also don’t have to provide any details, either. Acknowledge the past, but don’t dwell on it. Instead, focus on explaining what you learned from your most recent job: about yourself, your skills, the type of role and work environment in which you thrive, etc. and how this experience has led you to this job. Your goal is to ultimately guide the conversation back to why you’re excited about this job opportunity, at this company, and why you are a good match for the role.”
We agree 100%. Yes, there are not-so-great managers out there and everyone has a bad experience in their lifetime. The thing is, it’s hard for hiring managers to understand both sides of the story and if you badmouth your previous employer, they could picture you doing the same thing to them in the near future. Instead, play it safe and talk about what you learned at your previous company and what you’re looking for in your next role.
4 | Show your excitement
Ask great questions. People who care about a subject want to know as much as possible about it. Asking why the company adopted a new advertising plan or soliciting the interviewer for their thoughts on why the firm recently was named to a list of great places to work demonstrates admirable curiosity. Such detailed questions also show you’ve done your homework—another sign of a passionate candidate.
Go the extra mile. For people who are passionate about what they do, going above and beyond often comes naturally. Hiring managers can’t help but notice genuine actions, so don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Reiterate interest afterward. Lastly, solidify your passion as the real deal with an impressive follow-up. A heartfelt thank-you note displays gratitude as well as provides further opportunity to share something about yourself or your excitement about the position.
We’re about it. We’ve seen great candidates get turned down for jobs simply because they couldn’t iterate their passion for the company or specific role. Before you go into your interview, know why you want this specific role at this specific company and communicate that clearly to your hiring managers.
5 | Remember to follow up with a thank you note.
“Right after the interview (no more than 12-24 hours) is when you should send a thank you note to your interviewer. However, there are three common mistakes to avoid: 1. Do not group all interviewers on one thank you note. Send each individual a separate note. 2. It’s OK if your thank you note is sent via email, but do not forget to secure the email address of every interviewer before you leave, hang up the phone, or disconnect the video call. 3. Do not make your thank you note boring and predictable. Take notes during each interview, and capture unique things each interviewer said or asked you about. Then incorporate those into your thank you notes. Refer back to something you discussed or learned from them.”
Long story short: out of all the applicant’s applying to the role you want, you don’t want to be the one who forgot the thank you note. It’s a small gesture, but it makes a difference.
In short, be sure you enter every interview prepared, passionate, and grateful. What’s the best piece of resume advice you’ve received? Let us know in the comments below!