The job interview is undoubtedly one of the most challenging legs of the career hunt journey, and rightly so. It is an opportunity that, if done right, can change the course of your life. If the stakes weren’t already high, you have the added challenge of proving your prowess to a group of strangers, often in an hour or less. So, what can a candidate do to rise to the challenge? Natalya Smith, Human Resource Generalist at WalterFedy, offered some helpful tips to put you on the path to success.
Do your research
The first tip is a simple one: take the time to learn more about the company and familiarize yourself with the role. “A wow moment for me is when I can tell someone has put in a lot of work into preparing for the interview. It comes through in their delivery,” Natalya explained. “Give the process the time it needs. Its when you can show you know a bit about the history, values, and products or projects.” Not only will this research help you demonstrate your interest in the company, it also helps the interviewer supplement your knowledge. “I also want to hear what people are saying about us so I can fill in any gaps and clarify role expectations.”
Sell yourself—”Coles Notes” version
Do you remember the days of Coles Notes, the printed student study guides that summarized key themes for book reports? While everything is online these days, the analogy still stands. “When I say Coles Notes, I mean a brief summary,” said Natalya. “What are the top three things needed in this role? Sell yourself by showing what experience you have that supports those responsibilities.” The best time to give this pitch is at the beginning of the interview, or when you are wrapping up the conversation. While talking about your best attributes can be uncomfortable, it is crucial to a great interview. One of the biggest challenges is knowing just how much to offer. “Be succinct,” she encouraged.
Use the SAR approach to answer questions
Have you ever found yourself talking in circles when trying to answer an interview question? You aren’t alone. Natalya suggests practicing the SAR approach—situation, action, result. “Tell us what happened, what you did, and the result. If you can give me these three things, it covers everything we want to know.” This format helps keep your answer clear and organized. An added bonus: it works for just about every question.
As the interview comes to a close, it is likely you will have a chance to ask questions. Take advantage of this opportunity! Your questions do not need to be profound – they can be as simple as asking your interviewers what they love about the company. “The reason you want to ask questions is because the answers you get might help solidify your interest,” said Natalya. “We are interviewing you from an organization perspective, but you are also interviewing us. We want you to leave the interview feeling informed about the role, the team, the environment, and the company.”
When the day of your interview finally comes and the pressure is mounting, pause, breathe, and remember this: your interview panel wants you to succeed as much as you do! “I know outside of this high-pressure environment you are an amazing person,” said Natalya, “Everyone has something great to offer and that’s what I want to see. Be natural. Be you.”