Secrets to a Great Interview

by Mark Maenche, Candidate Representative to the Candidate Liaison Committee

At long last, the email just arrived. You were granted an interview for that awesome job you applied for recently. Next week is your opportunity. What next? How do you prepare? How can you put yourself in the best position for success?

A job interview is the first step in a different direction. It can be a welcome opportunity to sell yourself for an adventure that takes you to new career heights. But an interview is also stressful and nerve-wracking for most people. Let's explore the SECRETS that will help set you up for a great interview experience.S – 

S - Before arriving at an interview, it is important to realize that your social media accounts will precede you. In today's job market, hiring managers will use social media to find out about who you are. What you post is a reflection of the person they will be bringing into their workplace. A 2017 CareerBuilder study^ found that 70 percent of employers use social media to screen job candidates before hiring them.   

E - Arrive early. Various online resources suggest that an interviewee should arrive between 10-20 minutes before an interview. Make sure to account for traffic or other unforeseen circumstances by giving yourself some extra time to get where you are going. If you arrive too early, take a short walk to relieve some of your nervous energy.   

C – Showcase your competence by learning all you can about the position for which you are applying. It is also helpful to do some research on the company so that you can ask intelligent questions. Prepare several questions ahead of time so that you are engaging during the interview. Make sure to think critically about your technical skills and know how to communicate the value you offer.   

R – Consider carefully your responses. The goal should be to project confidence. The best way to do that is to practice. Research common interview questions online and formulate your answers. Know examples from your own life that can be used to demonstrate the qualities on your resumé. Being prepared for the routine questions will ease your nervousness and give you mental capacity to tackle the harder questions when they are asked.   

E – Evaluate the organization throughout the interviewing process to decide if it is the right place for you. Interviews are a forum for both parties to get a better feel for one another and decide if the relationship is a good fit. Think through what you want from a job and an employer. Ask questions about things that are important to you. (e.g., do most people work from home or do employees come into the office every day? What kind of support exists for exam-takers, and how much importance does the company place on passing exams?)   

T – Write the interviewer(s) a thank you note. This is your last chance to make a good impression. A 2017 survey by Accountemps^ found that only 24 percent of HR managers receive thank-you notes from applicants. However, 80 percent of HR managers say thank-you notes are helpful when reviewing candidates. One word of caution: Thank you notes are a demonstration of your written communication skills. If executed poorly it may hurt your chances of securing the job. Ask a friend or colleague to proofread the note before sending so that you can be sure you are making the best impression.   

S –  Finally, remember to smile! You want to make a good impression and having a pleasant disposition is an important step. Try cheering others up with a frown on your face! People want to be around others who contribute a positive vibe to the environment. Be that person.   

You are the best salesperson for you. An interview is an opportunity for you to shine! Once you secure your chance to get in front of someone who may hire you, do not fail to prepare for your big moment in the spotlight. Arming yourself with these SECRETS will ensure a great result!