by Ella Manashil

Are you feeling nervous about an upcoming interview? Are you having trouble navigating the recent shift to virtual interviewing? This is a very unusual time, so feelings of uncertainty are completely understandable. However, the Job Forum is here to help! Here is a discussion of all three stages of the interview process to ensure that you have the tools to express your best self during an interview.

It is important to recognize that being selected for an interview means that you are in the top percentage of applicants. You should be proud of yourself for making it this far! Now you have the chance to persuade the hiring committee that you are the right person for the job. It is also a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the organization and make sure that this is the right position for you. Virtual interviews provide a unique opportunity to learn information that you would not necessarily get in an in-person interview. For example, it may be easier to see how organized the company’s employees are, what technology the company uses, and the norms of their virtual culture. Similarly, the hiring committee will learn new things about you such as your personal environment, technological capabilities, communications skills, and distractibility.

The first stage of your interview process is preparation.

Hiring committees often remark on the extent to which job candidates are prepared for their interviews. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to do well during an interview. The following are some tips for improving your preparation:

1. Test your internet connection and video platform. It is also a good idea to ask for a phone number before the interview just in case your technology fails.

2. Prepare your environment by checking things like lighting, echo, decor, and privacy. Check your background, declutter your area, and make sure you are in a quiet space with no distractions.

3. Prepare for the interview by reading the job description line by line and researching the organization and its products. Additionally, practice answers to common questions and prepare stories that highlight your competencies. Reading the Glassdoor interview tab for the organization can also help with this preparation.

4. Be flexible when scheduling the interview, especially in terms of time zones and rescheduling. You never know what is happening on the interviewer’s end and showing understanding and flexibility is a skill they will notice.

5. Write down your questions in advance. Remember that this is your chance to make sure the job is the right fit for you. Additionally, asking questions can help demonstrate your enthusiasm and genuine curiosity about the organization. Here are some examples of questions to ask:
What does a typical day look like for you?
What are the biggest challenges you face at the organization?
Can you tell me about the culture of the company?
What have been some of your biggest accomplishments in this organization?
In my research about the company I noticed this… what else can you tell me about it?
What will be my first task when I step into the position?

The second stage is to plan how you will maximize your interview opportunity.

Now that you have prepared for the interview, there are a few things you should do to maximize your potential during the meeting itself.

1. Ask how long you have with the interviewer(s) and note their names.

2. Answer questions directly and avoid vague responses. You can always ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question.

3. Be sure to express your value and what you will bring to the company. Always orient your answers to emphasize why the committee should hire you for this position.

4. Highlight your key accomplishments and be persuasive by adding brief examples for each point!

5. Come to the interview well-groomed and dressed professionally.

6. Have a piece of paper and a pen handy to write down questions or thoughts as they come up during your discussion.

7. Be aware of your body language: sit up straight, look forward, express interest, smile, and be friendly and confident. Similarly, avoid monotone speech and try not to sound too rehearsed.

How you show up is important because it gives the hiring committee an idea of what it will be like to work with you. Be authentic and plan ahead so you can bring your best self to the interview!

The third stage is to handle the post-interview process very well and try to establish an ongoing connection with the company.

Now that you’ve gotten through the interview, it’s important to stay connected and continue to show your interest. Below are a few tips to ensure that the hiring committee is still thinking of you.

1. Connect with the hiring committee members on LinkedIn following the interview.

2. Send a thank you note within 24 hours and restate your interest in the role.

3. Send a respectful and polite follow up 1 week later if you have not heard any news about the position.

4. If you are told that you are not going to be moved along in the hiring process, it is reasonable to follow up about how you can improve. Although hiring managers are not obligated to tell you why you were not hired, there is little harm in asking for advice or pointers that they can share. It is also a great opportunity for you to restate your interest in joining their company. Following up may help you maintain a relationship with that organization and get considered for another role.

We know that the interview process can feel intimidating and uncomfortable, especially during this time. Interviewing is a learned skill, so the more you do it, the easier it will get.

Please consider attending The Job Forum to meet our panel of local SF Bay Area business managers who helpfully volunteer and help job hunters become more successful. The Job Forum is held virtually every Wednesday at 6:30 pm. We also offer workshops virtually every Thursday evening. The Wednesday evening Job Foum panel addresses your unique job hunting questions and provides personalized advice to job hunters. We hope to see you there!

The Job Forum is sponsored by the SF Chamber of Commerce and LinkedIn.

Check out the calendar of events on our website. You sign up with Eventbrite and then we send you a password protected URL to come join us as part of our Job Forum virtual meetings.