It’s time for change. Or an upgrade. Whichever way you approach your career, it’s going to involve interviews — a lot of them!
At the moment, those will probably be screen-to-screen video chats. By “chats” we mean an uncomfortably deep psychological survey of your education, skills, personality, career, and future. In a short space of time. By someone who has countless more candidates to get through.
Stressed? Don’t be! Beyond power dressing and knowing your work history, skills, and achievements, (and the prospective company’s as well!) there are a host of tricks that can help you climb the ladder.
We’ve put together a cheat sheet to help you win at your next job interview.
Clever mental tricks for your next interview
1. Give them what they want
First, what are they looking for?
Every recruiter or potential boss will be asking themselves some questions throughout the interview. It’s your job to answer them along the way, even if they don’t ask. Classy Career Girl lists them:
- Why do you want to work with us?
- Can you do the job?
- Will you fit the company culture?
- How do you outshine other candidates?
2. Mirror your interviewer
Mimic their words and motions but remember that mirroring doesn’t mean parroting. As Classy Career Girl advises, “It’s a subtle reflection. If you’re too much of a chameleon, copying every nuance, you’ll alienate the recruiter.”
3. Show what you know
If you’ve done your homework, you’ll be up to date on the company’s recent news, and if you know how to use social media, you’ll have identified and reached out to existing and former employees to get the low-down on company culture, vision, and more. Bring this in-depth knowledge into your interview to show how passionate you are about being part of their professional family.
4. Match answers to your interviewer’s age and role
A 33-year-old Millennial department manager is going to be interested in different qualities and skills than a Baby Boomer. That’s because they have different mandates when it comes to hiring and different cultural languages depending on their generation.
Give some thought to their role and responsibility as well as yours. How might you best serve the company, its business goals and the person interviewing you? Point this out clearly in a language they understand.
The Ladders breaks each generation down and suggests suitable focuses for each:
- Millennials (25 to 40 years old): Show your work through visuals (physical portfolio or a SlideShare presentation) and emphasise your multitasking skills.
- Generation X (40 to 50 years old): Illustrate your creativity and how you balance personal and professional life to be more successful at both.
- Baby Boomer (50 to 70 years old): Show that you work hard and demonstrate respect for what they’ve achieved.
Don’t forget Generation Z – professionals in their early twenties. It’s entirely possible to have a manager younger than you if you’re interviewing in certain sectors, such as start-ups or technology. If you’re interviewing with a Gen Z’er, make sure to show visuals, videos if possible, and keep it short and to the point.
5. Practise beforehand
This is especially useful for Zoom interviews, where many of the visual, audio, and psychological cues we’re used to picking up on in person may be missing. Here are some top tips:
- Get a friend or family member to ask you typical and trick interview questions. Try different approaches to answers each time.
- Make eye contact with your interviewer. On video calls, train yourself to look directly into the camera lens.
- It’s good practise to check if your hair and outfit look okay throughout, much like you’d check your blind spots regularly and quickly while driving.
- Make sure you look relaxed but focused.
- Avoid a fake video background. You could drape a sheet (securely) for a clear temporary background. It won’t hurt to pick a neutral colour that suits your skin tone.
What to do when it doesn’t work out
You can do everything right and still not get the job. Maybe another candidate beat you out by a hair, or the company decided to rethink the skills and experience needed for the job. If you’ve invested your time heavily in multiple time-consuming interviews or skills assessment tests the bad news can feel even worse.
Here’s how to pick yourself up again when it doesn’t work out.
- DO send a polite email thanking the interviewer for their time, even if you feel hard done by. A little professional courtesy goes a long way.
- DON’T badger or beg. If you hit it off with the interviewer, you may (politely!) ask if there was anything you could have done differently or areas you can improve on, but don’t keep contacting them if you don’t get a response.
- DO ask to be kept on file. If you just missed out on the job by not having, for example, an important qualification or skill set, there’s no harm in asking to be considered for the next appropriate role.
- DON’T let it get you down. Job hunting is more difficult than ever, and in these times companies may be scared to commit to a candidate. Remember, there are factors out of your control that affect their hiring decision, so try not to take it personally.
- DO take a break if you need it. Job hunting can be mentally exhausting; rejection even more so. If you find yourself getting worn down by the search, don’t feel guilty for taking a break for a few days or weeks.
Feeling prepared and ready? Great. Now go get that job!