The current job market is complex, with the Great Resignation and mass layoffs creating stiff competition among job searchers in many industries. In this environment, you have to present your best professional self to recruiters and hiring managers—and, to stand out, you need a solid interview strategy. So we asked HR and career experts about tactics likely to land you a job. Here are their favorite job interview tips.
How to Succeed in a Job Interview
You submitted a resume and cover letter and received an invitation to an interview. That’s no small victory, but it’s just the beginning of the process. So here’s what to do next.
1. Research the Company
Most HR professionals we’ve spoken to agree: The first thing on your agenda should be learning more about the company you’ll be interviewing with.
“There’s a reason that ‘doing the research’ is at the top of every post on preparing for your interview — because it works,” Nabila Salem, president of cloud talent creation company Revolent, says. “There’s no substitute for learning about the organization you’re interviewing with, their industry or field of work, and their competitors. Not only does this demonstrate you are capable, but it also shows that you are enthusiastic and, quite frankly, willing to put the work in.”
According to Salem, this research can also help you build a strong case for how you could fit in and improve the company’s operations.
2. Practice Your Responses
Next, consider the interview questions you’re likely to be asked and craft your responses.
“I’d highly recommend that you write some possible questions you’d expect from the interviewer and, of course, some answers too,” Salem says. “Not only will this make you feel more prepared and confident when the interview actually arrives, but it’s a chance to figure out what skills, experiences, and traits you’d like to ‘show off’ once you sit down with your potential employer.”
Theresa Balsiger, vice president of candidate relations at Carex Consulting Group, suggests creating a pitch to use in the interview by developing three to five anecdotes to help you respond to behavioral questions. (Behavioral questions, such as “tell me about an instance you disagreed with a co-worker,” are designed to pinpoint how you might react in scenarios likely to occur in the workplace.)
“Use the position description to help determine what the interviewer might ask you about,” Balsiger says. “Practice your responses.”
Looking for additional job interview tips? Start by preparing for these common interview questions.
3. Connect Your Experiences to the Job Role
One of the essential job interview tips is to show how your experience is relevant to the role you’re applying for. This connection may be easy to make when you have years of experience in a similar position. If you’re new to the industry or looking for your first job, this may appear a bit more challenging—but not impossible.
In this case, Paola Accettola, principal and CEO of True North HR, recommends using courses taken in university and projects you worked on as experience.
“When you tie in … the skills that you learned in your education, it helps your interviewer and employer understand… how those experiences make you the best fit for the role,” she explains. “Connecting the dots in your education, work, and volunteer experience helps them gauge how all those skills can impact the team, especially acting in the role you applied for.”
Looking to build new skills? Forage offers free virtual work experiences where you can complete day-to-day tasks in various roles and get noticed by recruiters at top companies.
4. Prepare Your Questions
In a job interview, you’re expected to answer questions and ask them too. For that reason, it’s best to think in advance about what you will ask your interviewer.
“When I am interviewing a person, and they have questions for me about the job, it shows the person has a genuine interest in the open position,” says Mary Alice Pizana, human resources manager at Texas law firm Herrman and Herrman PLLC. “There are plenty of questions to ask… [which] will provide insight into what it is like to work there and show you are already investing yourself into the job.”
Consider starting with these top questions to ask during an interview.
When you ask questions, you also get a chance to see what you can expect from the role and whether it matches what you’re looking for.
“Remember that while you are being interviewed as an employee, you should also be interviewing the interviewer as a potential employer,” Accettola says. “With the Great Resignation continuing to happen, many employees often don’t think to challenge the employer during the interview, but this is incredibly beneficial to understand the company better and can be very productive long-term.”
5. Show Your Personality
Our last job interview tip? Don’t be afraid to be yourself. You want to find a company that will allow you to bring your whole self to work.
“Businesses look for culture adds, rather than culture fits,” Lamar Nava, director of customer success at Betts Recruiting, says. “Culture fits are old news. Organizations benefit from culture additions because they introduce new ideas that allow them to innovate and grow.”
A company that encourages collaboration, diversity, and authenticity will help you bloom in your career by providing a safe, enjoyable, and, ultimately, more productive environment. This environment, in turn, will set you up for long-term success with the company.
“You never want to shape your personality and who you are to impress the interviewer, as you want to make sure that you can connect well with the company and team on a relatively personal level,” says Accettolla. “If you land the role, you will be spending the majority of your time and days with these individuals, so you want to ensure that you are going to connect well with the team.”
Interview Tips: The Bottom Line
Job hunting is never easy, even when the job market is seemingly on your side. Interview tips from experts can help you find your dream position sooner, but there are no quick or guaranteed schemes in the art of a job search.
As you keep applying and interviewing, remember: The main thing is perseverance. Control what you can by preparing, and don’t let rejections bring you down. They’re simply a part of the process.
Have you been rejected recently for a role? Here are some ways you can (successfully!) ask the interviewer for feedback.
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