Acing Your Job Interview: Make Your Minutes Count
The job interview process boils down to 60 precious minutes. That’s right. You basically have 1 hour to convince your potential future employer that you can perform the required job duties and that you are the right person for the job. This article provides tips for ensuring you make the most of your time in the spotlight.
The interview process can be summarized in four steps.
- Resume review: First impressions are lasting!
- Screening phone call: Prepare by becoming informed about the company and the open position.
- Interview via telephone or video: Be ready to explain what you would bring to the job if hired.
- Face-to-face interview: Demonstrate appropriate behavior, interest, and expertise.
Create an Impactful Resume
The first step in the interview process is piquing the interest of the hiring manager with an impactful resume using some of the following.
- Use creative and descriptive action words to communicate your impact in current and past jobs, such as “identified,” “created,” “motivated,” “partnered,” “streamlined,” “innovated”.
- Quantify your experience: “I identified more than 1,000 newly diagnosed breast cancer patients”.
- Tailor your resume to the position for which you are applying.
Deliver at the Interview
At a face-to-face interview, it is time to deliver on the statements you made on your resume. For example, if your resume states that you have advanced administrative and computer skills with the ability to create and produce needed reports and materials, bring examples of your work. If you cite an ability to manage multiple tasks and frequent change, make sure you can describe specific situations to illustrate this. If your resume states that you have excellent presentation skills, find out if you will have the opportunity to demonstrate this during the interview.
Prior to the interview, thoroughly research the company and the position for which you applied. The internet is a useful tool for understanding the purpose and history of the organization. To gain understanding of the position, talk to someone with recent experience in this role.
The importance of your personal appearance cannot be underestimated. No matter what the usual dress in the workplace where you are interviewing, wear professional attire. This means clothes that are comfortable and fit well; they should not require adjustment when sitting or standing. Women should wear conservative jewelry and makeup and little or no perfume, since many people are sensitive to smells. Hands and feet should be tidy; avoid extremely long or unkempt nails and sloppy shoes.
Arrive early for the interview. If necessary, do a practice drive beforehand. Bring a few copies of your resume in case you are interviewing with more than one person. Also bring the list of questions you developed about the job and company, along with work samples that you can leave with the interviewer. Have contact information for your references handy in case the employer requests it at that time.
A few points about interview etiquette
- Shake hands firmly and make eye contact while doing so; continue direct eye contact during the interview.
- Actively listen to the questions and conversation; display interest in your facial expressions and verbal responses.
- Practice good body language; no slouching or crossed arms.
- Do not hold or use any object not directly involved in the interview (i.e., gum, cell phone).
Interviewing Styles and Tips
A common type of interviewing today is known as conversational interviewing, which is designed to help the candidate understand the job responsibilities, the hiring manager’s managerial style, and what success in the position would look like. A conversational interview is interactive but not too comfortable; it is important to avoid lapsing into speech or storytelling that is unprofessional. A conversational interview allows a hiring manager to get a sense of the candidate’s potential fit on the existing team.
Be ready to answer these questions.
- Tell me about yourself. (Highlight the best achievements on your resume and express enthusiasm and confidence.)
- Why are you seeking to leave your current job? (Be honest but not negative.)
- Why do you want to work here? (Explain what attracted you to the company.)
- Why should I hire you? (Sell yourself.)
The mnemonic STAR can be helpful when answering interview questions.
As the interview concludes, clarify any unanswered questions and repeat your interest in the position. Ask directly: “Do you see any reason why you would not hire me?” Also, ask about the next steps in the process, and how long it is likely to take before a decision is made. Thank the interviewer for the opportunity to discuss your qualifications, and request a business card so that you can send a thank you note immediately.
No article about interviewing would be complete without mentioning why people do not get the job. Common reasons are poor follow-up; overly ambitious demeanor; poor understanding of the role; failure to communicate clearly, concisely, and in a compelling way; failure to differentiate oneself from other candidates; not following directions for the application process; and negative feedback from references.
And then there are true deal breakers, such as bringing a family member to the interview, unprofessional or poor communication, answering a phone call during the interview, texting during an interview, getting too personal, appearing noncommittal or uninterested, and displaying arrogance.
By taking the steps described here, you will increase the likelihood of not only acing your interview, but being offered the job. Good luck!
Editor’s Note: This article is a summary of a presentation given by Nicole Korak, MSN, FNP-C, senior director for Quintiles, at the 2017 ONS 42nd Annual Congress.