Getting the most out of your interview!

Getting The Most Out of Your Interview!

The job application process can be painful. 

Navigating various application systems and websites without ever even talking to a real person, can feel hopeless.

You fill out a 2-3 page application form.  Attach a resume.  Enter the exact information that was already in your resume.  24 hours later, receive an automated email response: “thank you for applying.”  2-4 weeks later, receive another automated email response: “We have reviewed your application. However, we have decided to move forward with other candidates.” Repeat.

After all that, just getting to an interview can feel like a reliefthat is, until the anxiety of preparing for the interview kicks in. The idea of interviewing is enough to make anyone’s palms sweat and heart race, but there are ways to set your self up for success, and to understand if this job is really the best fit for you. 

Let’s focus on some practical ways to get the most out of the interview!  

Prepare in advance.

  • Research the company. Understand their products, customers, mission, values.
  • Research the interviewers.  Are you talking with HR? The CEO? A Software Development Manager? Those are three different conversations.
  • Go into the interview with the mindset that this is THE JOB you want.  If they feel you don’t want the job, then I wouldn’t expect an offer.
  • Bring three copies of your resume and a notepad to write on.
  • Three questions are coming:
  1. Tell me about yourself? This should be a 4-5 sentence professional summary, including an accomplishment you’re incredibly proud of.
  2. Tell me a time when you failed & how you worked through it?  Take ownership of a failure and emphasize what you’ve learned. This example can also shape the entire tone of the interview.  Personalize the message, help them feel your pain and growth.
  3. Why do you want the job? If you don’t know this answer, that’s going to be problematic.

Get clarity on the job.

  • Ask questions. Three Priorities:
    1. What are the position’s core technical responsibilities?  If you know these, then you can be clear about your relevant experience.
    2. What are the pain points?  You might be able to provide advice or a solution during the interview.
    3. How will you add the most value to the company immediately? This adds clarity to what the first couple months look like, no surprises.
  • When they ask questions about experience that you don’t have, confirm if that experience is significant to the job.

Understand career advancement opportunities.

  • Is there a specific career path for this role or a precedent that has been set?
  • Is there an expectation of advancement after a year or two?
  • Let’s say you don’t have the experience required for the Software Developer job that you’re interviewing for.  I know several companies that hire candidates for QA or Product Support jobs and discuss a plan to transition to a Software Developer position within a clear time frame.  Ask if there is a precedent for a path like this.
  • What do the most successful employees do well?

Define work culture.

Answers to these questions should provide insight into the company culture:

  • How does leadership empower employees?
  • How does change happen?
  • What are a few of the real values in the DNA of the company?
  • Tell me about a time when you felt overwhelmed, what happened? How was it resolved?
  • How did leadership communicate with employees during the pandemic? Did you feel supported?

Give them a recap of what you heard.

  • Because, once you have clarity on the reality of the job & you know that you have the skills to do the job, then you should be able to observe the body language and communication of the interviewer, that tends to reveal the answer. You are looking for agreeable head nods and language describing how you will be effective in this role.
  • This approach also creates space if there’s a disconnect. The interviewer can add clarity and then you can provide a better explanation of your experience and emphasize your interest.
  • Repeat the three focus items (responsibilities, pain, and value) and emphasize your fit and interest.

Salary negotiation.

  • First, emphasize job fit, team fit, company fit, and then tell them “I’m looking for your best offer.”
  • I recommend providing a salary range for similar jobs that you’re interviewing for & for your skills.
  • If your salary is above average, then be ready to provide examples of what differentiates you from your peers.
  • Remember, if money is your #1 priority, that tends to show.

Can I promise an offer if you follow this advice?  No.  There are too many unknown variables in play. But with this approach, you should be able to make a good impression and understand (before receiving feedback) if this opportunity is the right fit or not. Additionally, the experience of the interview should be more pleasant.

Big picture… Use your network.  Be diligent in the process.  Contact Tech Talent Link for interview prep advice.