Interviewing sucks. The interviewers and screening methods aren’t always objective. You have less than one hour to impress a stranger while being judged by them. There is only so much you can do as a candidate during the interview process.
Good news is that if you got a call scheduled, you’ve passed the first test. You’ve done a decent job crafting your resume or online profile to showcase your experience and skills. The rest is on your ability to further demonstrate your worth as much as possible.
Here are a few quick tips on how to minimize your insecurity as a job seeker when interacting with recruiters and interviewers. Think of the interview as a final exam and crush it like a pro.
Hack #1 Study & Do Your Homework!
Research about the position, team, and company. Prepare answers for commonly asked interview questions. Being stumped is uncomfortable for both the interviewer and interviewee. However, do not steal other people’s answers online and use it verbatim; interviewers will know because they heard it before! You want to study and practice as much as possible especially for technical positions that require tests. Get a whiteboard and practice writing code and explaining it to someone.
Prepare at least three meaningful questions for each interviewer. Show your passion for the subject matter and company’s mission. The lack of curiosity is often perceived negatively. By simply asking good questions, you appear as someone who cares deeply about the opportunity. It’s also a nice break from doing all the talking.
On the other hand, you will know if you want the job or not by the end of the discussion with meaningful questions. It is your chance to check your mental wishlist to see if the position is indeed a growth opportunity for you.
“What is the biggest challenge for the team?” “Can you tell me about a typical day?” “What are the top three priority for the person in their first year?” “What is your leadership style?” By the way, asking about pay or benefits or PTO is not a meaningful question – save those to discuss with your recruiter.
Hack#2 Give Them Cliff’s Notes, Not A Lecture
Give a concise and relevant answer to each interview question. When interviewers inquire about your current team, no need to start your story with your college roommate. Cut to the chase… we’re not sitting by the campfire and making S’mores here.
When sharing your experience, keep your story within two minutes, just enough time to play a song and hold your listener’s attention. Like a well-composed song, you want a strong beginning (a business problem), memorable chorus (what solutions you provided and how you solved it), and satisfactory ending (positive results and impact). Give them the highlights of your career that will sear in their brains like a song that keeps playing and won’t go away. The interviewer needs to walk away knowing why you want the job, what assets and experience you bring to the table, and exactly how you can collaborate with the team and contribute to the company. Give them no reason to reject you.
Hack#3 Smile & Be Nice
Even when you don’t have the right answer, good attitudes go a long way. Emotional intelligence is just as important as intellectual capacity and curiosity. Interviewers want someone who won’t be angry, bitter, or frustrated when a perfect answer isn’t available because that’s life. We are often wrong but it is ok when we know we can count on you to figure things out together. If you are driven by positive energies, people are naturally drawn to you and will be supportive of you as a candidate even when they disagree with your point of view.
Lastly, don’t be insecure if you end up not getting the job. No need to take the rejection too seriously. More often than not, employers decided to promote or transfer someone internally or hired someone with a very specific type of experience to fit the business needs. You did your best and there’s no regret. Rinse and repeat.