Interviews can always be pretty nerve-inducing — but throw a pandemic into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a setup for some (understandable) anxiety.
That is, of course, unless you know about these tips and tricks.
We asked some of our star recruiters to share their intel to help you stay cool, calm and collected for your next interview, whether it’s virtual or in-person down the road. With these nuggets in mind, you’ll leave your conversations with the hiring team feeling like the job is already in the bag.
How to Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description
Of course, a lot of this comes from being prepared even before you start the interview process — starting with your job application.
Brittan Lynch, a corporate recruiter here at Red Ventures, recommends looking through the job description and identifying the top areas you feel you have comparable experience. You’ll want to be sure to include those job responsibilities in the top of each job you have listed on your resume.
She adds, “a cover letter is an awesome way to let the hiring team know about you and why you’d be a great fit for the role.”
Betsy Eccles, a corporate recruiter at Red Ventures, shares a similar sentiment.
Her advice? “If you want to submit a cover letter, or answer questions on the application well, make sure you’ve reviewed the job description and can tie in specifics from there… You want to make this answer as relevant and specific to the role as possible.”
How to Present Yourself As the Best Candidate — Even If It’s Virtual
Once you’ve got the interview process off the ground, you’ll want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward every step of the way.
“Do a practice test of getting Zoom up and running, so you feel comfortable with that piece and can focus all your energy on putting your best foot forward during the interviews,” says Brittan.
She also recommends dressing professionally and to prepare the same way you would for any in-person interviews. She also stresses the importance of asking for a quick break if you need one during back-to-back video interviews.
Betsy agrees, recommending that you be yourself above all else. “We are interested in having a genuine conversation with you and would love to learn about your experience.”
It’s also a good idea to have an “interview space” set up to have a relatively quiet area to conduct the conversation.
What to Do If It’s Your First Time Interviewing in Years
It’s no secret that unemployment numbers are staggering in the wake of the pandemic, and millions of Americans are finding themselves unemployed or furloughed, especially for the first time.
Knowing you’re not alone here and it’s not your fault can really help shift your mindset.
Betsy recommends first and foremost to let the recruiter know. She adds, “We understand the interview process can be nerve-wracking, especially if it’s been a while, but we’re here to help! The more we know, the more we can adjust our interview conversation accordingly.”
With that in mind, Brittan recommends a ton of practice before your first interview. It’s a good idea to have a friend or family member run through a few typical interview questions with you so you feel prepared. Some examples you might encounter include “Tell me about yourself,” “What are you looking for in your next role?” and other questions of that nature.
Most importantly, you’ll want to be prepared to talk through why you are on the job market — and why the role you’re interviewing for in particular sticks out to you.
What to Say When Asked Why You Want a New Job
On the flip-side, if you find yourself still employed but are looking around for other opportunities, you’re going to want to keep this advice in mind.
Brittan recommends being honest. She says you’ll want to “think through the real drivers of what has you on the job search.” It’s important to think honestly about what you’re looking for in your next role as well as what you’re looking for in a new environment.
At the end of the day, interviewing really is a two-way street.
Betsy adds “it’s always good to know how to answer these questions thoughtfully.” You’ll want to try to refrain from using blanket statements such as “I’m looking for more compensation,” “I feel trapped in my current role” or “I’m looking for a new challenge.”
While those statements all may be true, recruiters are looking to find and understand the “why” behind them. Instead, Betsy recommends asking yourself why you feel you need a new challenge, how are you not being challenged in your current role, and what do you hope to do in your next?
Being able to provide some context in that mindset will help recruiters understand why you want to make a move.
Great Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview
So, you’ve already aced all of the recruiter’s questions and are feeling confident — but now’s your chance to really knock it out of the park with some thoughtful and challenging questions for the hiring manager.
Betsy stresses the importance of “asking questions that matter to you, not the ones you think interviewers want to hear.”
For example, if the interviewer didn’t cover enough about the role or the company, let them know that you’d like to learn more. This is also a good time to ask what compensation looks like, as well as what potential perks are. She adds, though, that you’ll want to be sure to tie in some role-relevant questions, as well.
Some questions Brittan recommends are “What is your favorite part about your job and company?” as well as “How do you measure success in this role and what do career growth opportunities look like?” and even hard-hitting ones like “If you could change one thing about your company, what would it be?”
And while we’re on the subject of tough questions, let us be the first to tell you it’s important to bring them up.
Brittan adds, “ask all the tough questions and more during the virtual interview process.” Since you’re not getting to meet the team in person and see the office, it’s so important to ask questions to help you better understand the work environment and culture.
Again, you’ll want to focus your questions on what’s most important to you so you know if the company’s culture and vision aligns with your interests and career goals.
Betsy agrees, adding, “As long as the question pertains to the company or role, it’s acceptable to ask. Keep in mind that the person you’re interviewing with may not have the knowledge to answer though, so they may ask to follow back up with you.”
Interviewing can certainly be stressful no matter how long it’s been since your last one. But with these tips and tricks in mind, you’ll go into your next conversation with a clear head and the confidence to help you land your dream gig.
Want more recruiter-approved interview tips? We’ve got you covered.