Interview Tips from Our Career Coaches
Over the last year, our Career Coaches in Residence have fielded questions on many topics. In this blog post, Career Coaches E-Lin and Catherine address the important task of preparing for an interview. In fact, preparation is one of the most important pieces of advice they share when it comes to interviewing, so read on to find out how.
Prepare for an interview the way you would study for an exam or test. Give yourself lots of time ahead of your scheduled interview to do so and ensure you are taking care of yourself by sleeping and eating well. So how should you prepare?
Tip #1: Research the company and role you are applying for
Going into an interview requires you to have a solid understanding of the company you are applying for and the needs of the hiring manager. For example, will the successful candidate need to increase productivity, generate new revenue streams, create industry contacts or increase customer retention? The job posting usually gives great insight into these needs. Also, research what the mission, vision and values of the company are and how they align with your outlook.
Great ways to research a company is by reviewing the company website, following them on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and asking anyone in your network who might know someone who works there for a coffee conversation to seek greater insight into the company’s needs.
Tip #2: Identify and review your skills
When you ask yourself what you have to offer an employer, the most basic answer is skills. Skills are the building blocks of your career. They serve as a link from one job to another, from one career to another. In an interview, you must be able to describe how your skills and experience match the requirements. As a candidate, you must know, what your soft skills (often called our traits or personal characteristics) and hard skills (knowledge or technical skills) are, how transferable your skills are to the new role and the value of your skills to the role you are applying for.
Tip #3: Strike a (power) pose
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, through her research, suggests that engaging in powerful or expansive postures (such as the Wonder Woman) for 2 minutes prior to an interview can help a candidate increase feelings of confidence and reduce stress.
Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk: Your body language may shape who you are
Or, read Amy Cuddy’s book: Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges
Tip #4: Know your story
Not only should you have a good inventory of your skills, but you should also prepare engaging stories to demonstrate those skills especially when you are given a behavioural question during an interview such as, 'tell me about a time when you…'
A popular interview strategy for answering these common interview questions is known as STAR:
- Situation: Set the scene and give details of your example.
- Task: Describe what your responsibility was in the situation.
- Action: Explain what steps you used to address the situation.
- Result: Share the outcomes your results achieved.
To practice your STAR answers, book an appointment with a Career Coach in Residence.
Tip #5: Show gratitude
Always follow up with a thank-you note/email after your interview. It is a good opportunity to show appreciation for the interviewer’s time and attention but also a chance for you to summarize your qualifications and mention anything you may have missed during the interview.
Check out how to write an interview thank-you email, including samples and templates.
The pandemic has shifted a lot of employers to virtual interviewing. All of our tips still stand but in addition to them, we would also recommend doing a tech trial run to make sure of the following:
- internet/wifi connection is stable
- camera and mic are functional
- lighting is good
- space is quiet
Eye contact is still important in a virtual interview except this time, you are making eye contact with the camera. Also, a camera tends to suck energy during your virtual interview, so make sure you smile bigger and sound more enthusiastic. Don’t forget to do some power poses and jumping jacks to get your energy level up before the interview!
Need some help preparing for an interview? Be sure to book a one-on-one appointment with one of the library’s Career Coaches in Residence.
Post written by Catherine Crawford and E-Lin Chen, 2021-2022 Career Coaches in Residence.
The Career Coaches in Residence program is generously supported by RBC Foundation and with the support of several donors.