Ask about next steps Whether your interview is over the phone or in person, make sure to ask about the next steps in the process. This will give you peace of mind and show the interviewer you are forward thinking and serious about the opportunity. Over the phone, ask if an in-person interview will be the next step and who you’ll be meeting with at that time. If your interview is in person, ask what their process looks like moving forward and if you should expect another interview before a decision is made. Send a short thank you note after any in person interview, but avoid the temptation to call or email. You want to wait for them to contact you, so as not to seem desperate.
Put in prep for a phone interview A lot of employers use phone interviews to speak with candidates initially. You want to put just as much preparation into a phone interview as you would a face-to-face meeting. Do research on the company ahead of time, have a list of your accomplishments and your resume in front of you, and make sure there’s a pen and paper handy for notes. Try to use a land line if possible to avoid dropped calls, but if you are calling in on a cell phone, make sure to turn your volume off and Do Not Disturb on. You don’t want to be competing with notifications during your interview.
Keep follow up formal If you have the interviewer’s email address, or someone in the company referred you to the position, it can be tempting to reach out casually or multiple times to find out about the hiring process. It’s better to restrict your outreach to a formal thank you note, either electronically or by mailing a thank you card, and limit your follow up to that. Sending multiple emails or calling to speak with the interviewer can make for an awkward situation if they’ve moved on in the search. Hiring can take time. Multiple approvals, other interviews and outstanding paperwork can slow the process. Make sure you don’t ruin your chances of being hired by being too persistent or flooding the hiring manager’s inbox.
Split your attention If you’re doing a one-on-one interview, you should maintain eye contact with the interviewer and direct your answers towards them. But how do you divide your attention in a group setting? When you’re asked a question, remember the 50-50 rule. Focus 50% of your attention on the person who asked the question, and divide the other 50% among the other interviewers in the room. Companies like to place higher-level interviews in group settings, typically because they require more people to sign off on the hire and to see how the candidate would handle a boardroom or conference room situation. Always prepare for both solo and group interviews to make sure you won’t be thrown off if multiple interviewers are in the same room.
Balance your confidence You should always be confident in your experience and abilities during an interview. However, being overly confident or cocky can be a detriment to your chances. Employers will ask you some tough questions, and depending on the job, they can be very technical or specific about programs and processes. Don’t pretend to be familiar with topics when you only have a loose understanding. That can force you into a situation where you’re asked follow-up questions that you’re not comfortable answering, or even worse, presenting false information as fast. It’s important to be confident in what you know, but don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know sometime and offer to look deeper into the topic after the interview.
Prepare your PAR When faced with a classic “Tell me about a time when…” question, Forbes recommends framing your answer in terms of PAR: Problem, Action and Result. When talking about the problem you faced, give the interviewer key points about the challenge without overloading them with details. Communicate certain obstacles you considered and quickly discuss the team/timeline for the project. When describing the action you took, highlight your leadership during the process, teams you worked with and the reasoning behind your moves. For results, only highlight the one or two more relevant metrics to track your success. There’s no need to go into minutia if the results are better highlighted through a broader stat. By framing situation questions in terms of PAR, you’ll be able to fully cover the interviewer’s question while highlighting any relevant experience and skills.
Talk through your answers For technical positions or jobs that require critical-thinking skills, sometimes questions are to find out how you think, not just about getting a certain answer. If you’re asked about how long the average sale should take, or how many contacts you need to make a conversion, don’t sit in silence while you calculate an answer. Talk about why you think it would take you a month to convert a major client, or your experiences taking clients through a sales cycle. The last thing you’ll want to do is sit in silence for an awkwardly long time before giving a random number. Walk them through your process, how you approach a problem, and how you arrive at solutions and you’ll leave a much bigger impression on the interviewer.
Communicate about your schedule Interviewing can be a challenge if you’re currently employed. Most companies will want you to do an hour interview in the middle of the day, and that can be challenging if you’re already working 9-5. Be open and honest with your interviewer about your schedule. If you can take a half day on Wednesday to do a face-to-face meeting, but they suggest Thursday, don’t be afraid to ask to reschedule. Some potential employers will even sit down with you before or after hours to better align with your agenda. They understand that getting away in the middle of the day can be challenging, so don’t rush through an interview or jeopardize your current position by trying to please all parties.
Stay positive If you’re currently employed, you’ll be asked why you want to leave your current position for a new one. The answer should always be centered around the new opportunity, not focused on why you hate your current job. An interview isn’t the time to disparage a company, a boss, a problematic client, or even a city if you’re relocating. Focus on the positives of what’s in front of you, not the problems you want to leave behind. This will make the employer see why you want to be a part of your team, and that’s much more appealing than just knowing why you want to leave your current one.
Don’t try to be perfect During an interview you’re likely to be asked about your biggest weakness, or to tell the interviewer about a time when you failed. You should have honest, real-world examples of these situations ready to go if the question arises. What you don’t want to do is say you have no flaws, or that you’ve never failed. This makes you seem either arrogant, or unable to accept responsibility for your part in setbacks. A potential employer will want to know how you respond to adversity, and trying to convince them that you’ve never faced adversity will not make you seem like the perfect candidate, it will make you seem unprepared for the curveballs that can come in a business setting.