Let’s be honest: interviews are terrifying. Even if you’ve already met the hiring manager, they can still be pretty nerve-wracking. The days leading up to an interview are often a blurred chain of exciting events like loss of sleep, raised blood pressure, butterflies taking up residence in your stomach, and—if you’re really lucky—maybe even a good cry.
Yet, amidst all this stress, impatience, and nervousness, we are supposed to walk in (if it’s an in-person interview) calm, cool, and collected to greet our *fingers crossed* future boss with a confident smile and a handshake (provided handshakes ever make a comeback in the post-COVID era).
But if you go in ill-prepared, the interview could be a flurry of questions you’re not expecting, and next thing you know, it’s all over. This is where the folks here at Planet Technology can really help. It’s their job to ensure you land your next job. And part of getting you there is nailing the interview. Working directly with hiring managers, they’ve got unique insight into exactly what to do (and not to do), and a few tips on how to calm those nerves and conquer your interview-phobia.
We talked to the Planet Technology team and put together a list of their top 10 tips:
Researching the company beforehand is crucial, as you do not want to seem underprepared or ill-informed. Get familiar by reading their company blog posts, social media, management information, and mission statement. Only showing interest or knowledge about the position for which you’re applying could leave a bad impression — like you’d take the same job anywhere regardless of the company. And even if that’s actually true, maybe don’t give off that impression if you want to get hired.
If it’s an in-person interview, arrive 15-20 minutes early. Don’t go into the interview until 5 minutes before start time, but use that extra time to collect your thoughts, decompress and gather your materials. Get mentally prepared. It’s also a good idea to drive to the interview site the night before so you can become familiar with the route and any traffic issues you may encounter.
Tuck in your shirt, comb your hair, clean up that facial hair, go easy on the perfume/cologne, and for the love of God spit out your gum. As far as clothing goes, keep it business professional – ideally a suit. We know a lot of companies have relaxed environments, and with the rise of remote work and Zoom meetings a lot of us have become accustomed to wearing sweat pants all day. But first impressions are everything, so look your best regardless of whether you’re interviewing in person, or on a screen. You can relax those standards to match your coworkers once they are indeed officially your coworkers.
Pro-Tip: Wearing your favorite color is a simple way to feel a bit more at ease and get an extra boost of confidence. If you think you look good, it’ll show in your cadence.
Leave your devices in the car (including that smart watch) or turn them off. Eliminate the potential for anything to buzz or ding you with notifications to take you mentally away from the interview. If it’s a video interview, there may be a more relaxed attitude toward notifications, but we still recommend turning off devices you’re not using, and closing out all non-essential applications on your computer.
You should also avoid using body language that could give off a vibe that you’re not paying attention, like slouching or letting your eyes wander as you talk. Look your interviewer in the eye (or directly at your webcam and practice active listening by repeating what they say and taking time to think about your answer before responding. Bonus: This also helps eliminate the temptation to fill the silence with umms and uhhhs.
Avoid answering any questions with a simple “yes” or “no” response. Even if it seems elementary to you, a more technical question may not be as simple to a hiring manager with no technical expertise (that’s what they’re hiring you for, after all). At the same time, avoid getting too deep into details or rambling on and on and on about something that may not even have relevance to the question. Answer questions as directly and concisely as possible; you can always ask the interviewer if they need more information. And try not to answer a question with a question unless it’s to clarify something.
Honesty is key. Don’t try to oversell yourself by acting fake or elaborating on things that may not necessarily be true. For example, taking one semester of Angular.js in college does not make you an Angular developer. Be careful not to change subjects or lead away from the question at hand. It’s okay to talk about your hobbies, but you want to be careful not to dive too deep into your personal life or get off on a tangent that has no value to the interview.
Your past employment history will come up, and even if you had a negative experience, it’s best to refrain from bad-mouthing former bosses or coworkers. You can share negative experiences and the lessons you learned from them in a tasteful way.
Pro-tip: If you find yourself in the middle of an interview, realizing you don’t actually want the job, finish it out strong anyways. Leave a positive impression on the hiring manager, you never know where they may end up in the future or how they may be able to advance your career outside of this interview. Better to professionally decline a job offer after acing an interview than tanking the interview and burning bridges.
Employers want problem solvers, and you have to demonstrate how you’re equipped to solve theirs. Hiring managers like to hear about a problem you had, the actionable steps you took to solve that problem, and what the results were. Using real examples and avoiding generalities improves your credibility.
Along with bringing copies of your resume and something to take notes on, you should also have a prepared list of questions to ask the hiring manager. 5-10 questions shows your interest in the position and the company while still respecting your interviewer’s time. If you’re unsure about the types of questions you should ask, you can always go to your recruiter for advice or send them potential questions ahead of time.
Enthusiasm is key. In fact, 89% of recruiters say their number one desire in a candidate is enthusiasm. Your interviewer will meet with plenty of other qualified individuals with a skill set very similar to yours. Stand out by being the one who seems to want it the most. Conveying genuine interest and excitement for the position, the company, and its culture will set you apart from all the rest of the candidates.
And if you really want the job, make sure you state that at the end of the interview.
Photo Credit: Canva
Allow us to help you through your next interview and land your next job. Visit https://planet-technology.com/jobs/ to see what positions we’re currently hiring for, or submit your resume and we’ll find one that’s just right for you.