The year is 2020. Due to the corona virus pandemic, thousands of people worldwide seem to be finding themselves without a job. On the bright side, hundreds of jobs are created daily in the technology industry.
You have searched the length and breadth of LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed and every other job boards out there.
You have gone through the process of applying to all the jobs that are relevant to you.
You have probably applied to over 50 companies and one of them has finally responded with an interview offer. Wow, what a bumpy ride it has been.
Okay, I might have been projecting a little bit, but you get the point.
You finally got the interview you have been waiting for! Congratulations on achieving this. It is a huge deal and that should be celebrated. However, you are now faced with another speed bump in your journey.
Here are 5 tips to ensure you get over that bump in the road in one piece.
1. Research, Research, Research
This is probably the most important advice you will ever get. Every resource you will find on tips about interviews will always mention doing adequate research. The reason for this is to make yourself prepared. You want to find out more about the industry you are interviewing in, whether it is your first encounter in the industry, or you are veteran. You want to keep yourself up to date with recent facts.
Similarly, you want to do an in-depth research into the company. A deep dive if you may. Do not under estimate the importance of this. When you are knowledgeable about something, you come across as a subject matter expert and you talk about it passionately. This is what interviewers want to see. Your passion and your knowledge.
As a woman, I know that we often do not like it when a stranger walks by and tells us to smile but in the context of an interview, smiling is something that you need to do often throughout the course of your interviews.
A lovely relaxed smile can help to put both you and an interviewer at ease. It can help diffuse a potentially awkward conversation or even convey your personality by making you seem more personable, sociable and confident.
Smiling is contagious according to scientists. In a study conducted in Sweden, people had difficulty frowning when they looked at other subjects who were smiling, and their muscles twitched into smiles all on their own. So, when you constantly put on a smiling face throughout your interview, your interviewer will warm up to you and smile back at you and with you. A good trick to know is when you are asked a question that stumps you, take a deep breath, repeat the question to yourself and smile as you think of the best way to answer the question so as not to seem faltered.
Just remember, smiling can be overdone. You could come off looking like the clown in IT and that is not the vibe you are going for or how you want to be remembered *shudders*. Practice you natural smile. It is harder than it looks, but it can be perfected.
3. Utilise your past experiences
We sometimes look at a job description and automatically assume that we are not remotely qualified because we do not meet all the skills or experience listed. My concept of this changed when one of my former bosses and friend, a director in a well-known company told me that every requirement in a job description are "desired". These are lists of things that an employer would ideally want a candidate to have, but they know that the chances of them hitting the jackpot on finding that ideal candidate is very slim.
So, you do not want to limit yourself or under sell your experiences. All experience is good experience and you just need to know how to make your experience relevant for the job or industry you are interviewing for.
Most skills are transferable nowadays and can be built upon regardless of the industry you find yourself in. Here are some examples:
Have you never worked in a professional high-intensity, fast-paced setting but have experience working in a restaurant with other members of staff, e.g. kitchen staff?
You are a team player.
You have worked with different moving parts to ensure the success of a business.
You have learnt how to handle conflict amongst co-workers.
You have experience working in a fast-paced, high intensity industry under a lot of stress.
You can easily adapt to change given that your duties might change from manning the till to working in the kitchen
So, dig deep and find a link between your past experiences and the job you are applying for and make it work.
4. Honesty is the best policy
One major feedback I received from the managing interviewers that conducted the last two job interviews I had at two different companies (both gave me job offers) was that I was honest. I was honestly surprised that this was something they picked up on and was particularly shocked that it was such a huge deal to them. It made me realise that interviewers actually look out for honesty. They can smell when a candidate is lying from a mile away.
My thought process for every interview is that I need to be as honest as possible. I must admit that I cannot do everything and highlight that the things I can do, I can do very well. People usually struggle between finding the balance between showing their capabilities but not going too overboard that they cannot answer complex questions about what they apparently know so much about.
My general approach is to be transparent. Talk about what you know and what you do not know but emphasise your willingness to learn and grow. Emphasise how much of a fast learner you are and provide good examples to support your statement.
5. Ask questions
This point is another one you have probably seen numerous times. At the end of an interview, interviewers usually leave some time for you to ask them questions. This is a great opportunity for you to clarify anything that might have come up in your interview so far.
Asking questions goes hand in hand with the research you would have done in the first tip. You should highlight some relevant questions during your preparation phase.
If you are stumped and cannot come up with questions of your own, review commonly asked interview questions and put your own personal spin on it. Try to relate and tailor your questions to the company and the industry they are in.
Some questions I have asked in the past that impressed my interviewers are:
What does a typical work day or work week look like for you?
What would a typical work day or work week look like for me?
What is the best thing about the job / company?
What is the best project you have had the opportunity to work on?
What is the team culture here like?
You want to make sure that you ask open ended questions. Give the interviewers chance to talk about why the enjoy their job. You want to take this opportunity to watch everything they say and break down their body language. Are they smiling or frowning when they give you their answers? A smile indicates that they love their job and they are passionate about it. This tells you that you would probably enjoy working with or for them.
The correct application of these points is guaranteed to give you a leg up and score some important points and land you that job offer. Go out there and blow the minds of your interviewers by showing them your awesomeness.