So you’ve made it through that résumé pile and you’ve just received a call that you have been selected to interview for that dream job (you rockstar, you!). After jumping up and down like there’s no tomorrow, a brief sense of nervousness strikes – no need to panic! We are going to cover 5 different useful tips for interviews to captivate your interview panel.
1. Do Preliminary Research
Before the interview takes place, conduct a bit of research. Look into the company’s website, social media presence, LinkedIn profile. Scan to see what type of people create the company’s culture. You will be able to gain a sense of what type of language the company utilizes, or the most important: the company’s vision/mission statement. Also, gain a sense of the company’s dress code. Although, I would always say dressing up is more on the safe side – it may be a bit uncomfortable to show up in a brand new suit when the rest of the employees are sporting jeans & flannel shirts. It is not frowned upon to address this question to the HR representative, or employee who contacted you to schedule the interview. The more knowledge you acquire about the company, the more relaxed and confident you will be for the actual interview.
2. Create a List of Accomplishments
Some people are incredible when it comes to generating answers on the fly. But even the most confident people may have moments where they draw a blank. There is a way to combat the following moments from occurring. Before attending your interview, generate a list of accomplishments and examples from past work experiences, internships, volunteer activities, school, etc. Not all interviews will contain positive questions, so think of examples where you may have experienced hardship and/or difficult situations (e.g.: I experienced working with a team that lacked motivation, but as a team we overcame that by…). The longer the list you create, the more equipped you are for any questions. Have a curve ball of a question that gets thrown at you? No sweat, you’ve put in the work to knock that question out of the park. The best part? You can save this accomplishment/example list and expand upon it for years to come. You never know when you may need to reference back to it (hint: promotion interviews).
3. Be Prepared for the Unexpected
Each and every single interview you attend will not be alike. There are a multitude of scenarios that can occur when attending an interview that could be unexpected: you may be in a group interview environment, you may have a panel ranging from 2-8 people, you may be asked to go on a tour of the facility, you may interview in a relaxed environment, you may be asked to complete tasks versus answering questions, you may be asked to attend a Skype interview…the possibilities are absolutely endless. There have been interviews I have attended where the employee who is conducting it has never conducted one before (the nervousness may have been on them!). Preparing yourself will allow you to maintain an open mind. Adjusting to unexpected situations shows flexibility and the interview panel will be paying attention to that. Some interview panels may be assessing you as a candidate from the moment you walk in the door. Do not allow this to terrify you – if you are prepared for the unexpected you have got all the confidence you need to captivate them!
4. Engage in Conversation
It is said that if your interview feels more like a conversation, rather than just strictly Q&A, it is a positive sign. Never feel intimidated to ask questions during the interview process. Generating a conversation versus abrupt questions and answers will establish that you are at ease. It will give the opportunity for the panel to get to know your personality as well. You want to provide more than what was listed on your résumé. Showing that you have a deep interest in the company will show your seriousness of applying for the position. Bonus points if you ask a question that refers to research you did about the company (e.g.: I noticed that your employees went to the local animal shelter to volunteer last Saturday on your company’s blog, do you have opportunities like that often?). This will captivate the interview panel because you went beyond the surface and took interest in learning about the company.
5. Provide a Thank You
Always provide a “Thank You” verbally after the interview has concluded (a plus if you shake hands), and a follow up “Thank You” (hand-written or electronically). Gratitude may be the one element that makes you stand out above all other candidates. Oftentimes, employees involved in an interview panel were not hired to conduct interviews. They may be employees that could be on your future team, or upper level management employees that have high importance within the company. The following employees are taking time out of their work days to attend the interview and it is highly impressionable to thank them for that. In this technology driven age, a “Thank You” email sent to the HR Director, interview panel, etc. may be conducive. I still prefer to handwrite a “Thank You” card and send it in the mail immediately following the interview (try to send it in a timely fashion, I would suggest not to send it past 3 days after the interview because it may potentially show lack of interest). Whichever route, be sure to give a “Thank You!”
There we have it, 5 tips on interviews to captivate your interview panel. I have no doubt in my mind that you have the confidence to take on that next interview and receive that dream job you have always wanted. I cannot wait to hear about the jobs/positions you will receive!