I hope you’re all healthy and safe! I’ve decided to write down some tips on how to prepare for a job interview, either a video/phone call or an interview in person. I wish someone had told me these things when I started applying for jobs a couple of years ago! Even though I’m only 25 I’ve had at least 20 interviews in the past 5 years. First I was searching for jobs in Slovenia, then 2 years ago I started looking for new opportunities in the USA and this year in Germany. I know that preparing for a job interview can be stressful! After all these interviews I still get nervous, every single time. That’s why I wanted to write this article for all of you who are currently applying for new jobs/waiting for an interview and don’t know how to approach the whole process. I hope that after reading this, you’ll feel more confident and 100% ready for your next interview. I have to say this, I’m not an expert in this area. Every time that I’ve had an interview I’ve learned something from it and tried to prepare myself better for the next one. In this article, you’ll find tips that really work and helped me get amazing jobs in Europe and in the US. Let’s start!
Before the interview (tips for video call and interview in person)
1. Take your time and do your research on the company and the role itself. It’s important to know their products/services, the details of the role that you’re applying for and the culture along with their mission and values.
2. Write down answers for a couple of common questions, for example:
Tell us about yourself.
What do you do currently?
Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years?
Why did you apply for this position?
What are your strengths and your weaknesses?
Some of the most difficult problems/issues you worked on and how you solved them?
What is your greatest professional achievement?
Why are you looking for a new job opportunity?
What do you think we could do better or differently?
When I had my first interviews, I was never really prepared for all of these questions. I only knew the answer to the question “What do you do?” and that was it. Really quickly I’ve realized that I have to be more prepared, especially for the questions like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or “What are some of the most difficult problems you worked on?” because the interviewers would like to know more about your professional aspirations and the way you approach different challenges. Now every time when they ask me those questions I’m 100% confident and ready to answer them without a doubt in my mind.
3. Every time you have an interview, the person you are speaking to will give you a chance to ask a few questions. This is a great opportunity for you to learn more about the company and the position you’re applying for. Prepare questions for the interviewers (that’s how you show that you’re really interested in their company and this role):
What is the culture and the work climate like in your company?
Can you tell me more about your personal experience working there?
What are some of the most challenging aspects of working there along with some of the biggest challenges the new hire will face?
What are the personal qualities you are looking for in a candidate?
What are the next steps in the hiring process?
2 years ago I had my first interview over a video call with a company from the US. I was really nervous because it was the first time having an interview in English. The first half of the conversation went pretty well and I was super excited about the opportunity. Finally, the interviewer asked me if I had any questions about the company or the role. I simply answered with “No, thank you, I think this is all.” The interviewer just smiled politely and we finished the conversation. I didn’t get the job and I feel like not having any questions prepared made them feel I’m not really that interested was one of the reasons. After this interview, I was talking to my friend one day about the whole interview process and he reminded me that it is really important to prepare a couple of questions in advance to show how excited you are about a new job opportunity and you really want to know more about the company and their work environment.
4. Choose a proper outfit for the interview in person or a video call:
You can make a really good impression by dressing appropriately.
Interviews in a more formal work environment call for you to wear professional, or business, attire. Women should wear a blouse and dress pants or a statement dress, for men the best option is a suit jacket and slacks with a shirt and tie or a sweater and a button-down.
If you have an interview in a more informal work environment you can choose a business casual outfit. You can go with relaxed-fit khakis, dark-wash jeans, and a nice top or a blouse.
It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, but don’t overdo it!
It’s also important that you feel good and confident in what you wear!
5. Video call - 30 mins before the interview:
Check if your headphones and microphone are working.
Make a test call on Skype/Zoom/Google Hangouts.
Make sure your computer/tablet/phone is fully charged.
The best place for taking a call is somewhere quiet. I’m usually in my home office and before the interview, I let people around me know that I need some space. If you don’t have an office, anywhere you have a neutral background, good lighting and enough personal space will work.
Make a CHECKLIST with all the main points that we’ve mentioned before and go through it.
✓ Questions for the interviewers
✓ Headphones and microphone working
✓ Computer fully charged
✓ Skype is working
✓ Let people around me know that I need some space
6. 5 mins before the interview:
Take 5 deep breaths
Say to yourself: “I GOT THIS!”
During the interview (tips for video call and interview in person):
Call-in the meeting on time or even a minute or two before.
Start the interview with the simple “Hi! How are you doing?” and a big smile on your face. It will let them know that you’re confident and ready for it.
Let the interviewers lead the conversation and not the other way around. Try to really listen to them and when they finish talking, make sure to ask questions if you’re unclear on something.
BE HONEST. Even if you don’t have the specific knowledge or skills that they ask about, be honest with the interviewer and let them know that you’re open to new challenges.
Also… your body language says a lot. Sit firmly and lean your back straight against the chair, use hand gestures while speaking and nod your head while listening. Confidence is the key.
If you’re having an interview in person, it’s also important to give them a good firm handshake in the beginning.
Try not to rush and answer questions in just 1-2 words. Give yourself a couple of seconds to calm down and gather your thoughts.
After the interview (tip for video call and interview in person):
Don’t wait for too long to follow up with a friendly thank you note over the email. Be brief and restate your interest in the job.
In the past couple of years, I’ve had everything, from great interviews, that made me feel even more confident and on the other side, interviews that made me question everything about my professional life. A lot of times during the interview we have to deal with really tough or tricky questions. When it comes to that, you have to remember that IT’S OKAY not to have the answer to everything! Try to really think about what you are going to say and if you don’t know how to answer it, be honest and tell the interviewer. Don’t worry, there might be a question where you can really showcase your knowledge and even just the way you approach not knowing something tells them a lot.
That’s it! I hope you’ll find this article helpful and I wish you the best of luck for your next interview. One more thing...stay POSITIVE and be PATIENT when it comes to finding a new job opportunity.