What to Expect During the Job Interview
Part 2 of the Nailing a Job Interview Series
Welcome to part 2 of my series on nailing a job interview. Today, we’re talking about what to expect during the interview process. In Part 1, I shared how to prepare for the job interview and set yourself up for success.
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Every job interview is different with some being relatively informal and others being extremely formal. You may interview with just the hiring manager or a panel of executives and either way, it can be daunting.
I know, I know. In this day and age shaking hands seems like such an archaic thing to do. Especially in this day and age with the flu, pneumonia, and coronavirus going around! You don’t want to walk into the interview and say “I don’t shake hands”. Honestly, this doesn’t set a very good first impression and many executives and managers expect a handshake. I used to work for a company that REQUIRED we shake customer’s hands and I hated it! If shaking hands bothers you, carry some hand sanitizer in your portfolio. (I love these little hand sanitizer wipes).
Make Eye Contact
Like shaking hands, making eye contact is crucial but don’t be weird and forget to blink. Often, when I speak to people I tend to look away because eye contact makes me uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the introvert in me. A job interview is NOT the place to be introverted. Be sure to maintain friendly and confident eye contact with whoever you’re speaking to.
Be Warm and Engaging
When you first meet the interviewer/interviewers be confident, warm and friendly. Try not to appear too nervous and let your personality shine through. Allowing your true self to shine can help you stand out from the crowd of people they’re probably interviewing!
The Interview Questions
I don’t want to go into great detail giving examples of how to answer the interview questions. Instead, I think it would be more helpful if I share some pointers as you think about how you can tailor your answers to your own experience.
- Tell me about yourself and your experience. Spend a few minutes describing your work and/or educational experience. Don’t get too windy, just share the highlights and make sure to highlight special skills and experience.
- What are your strengths? Ideally, you want to focus on the skills that align with the job you’re applying for. Some examples are leadership, time management, problem-solving, etc.
- What are your weaknesses? DO NOT say that you don’t have weaknesses. We all have weaknesses and it doesn’t sit well with hiring managers when people say that they have none. When I was asked this question in my interview, I shared that my weakness was public speaking and then explained how I was working to improve that skill.
- Why do you want to work for __________? You should have already done your research on the company that you’re interviewing. Explain what compelled you to complete the application. Maybe it’s the company mission statement or the opportunity to grow within the company. Whatever it is, this is a question hiring managers almost always ask, so be prepared!
- Why do you want to leave your current job? Be careful with this one. You most certainly do NOT want to bash your old job. Keep your answer short and share how much you learned from your current/previous employment. Additionally, explain that your goal is to advance in your career (or change careers). Again, you can explain why this new opportunity is a good fit. What I said: “I learned a great deal in the 15 years I was with ______. Unfortunately, the opportunities to grow my expertise (in my field) were limited. I was excited to learn about this opportunity, where career development and collaboration are important values for the company.”
- Tell me about a time you weren’t successful at work. How did you use that experience to improve? We all have that story of how we blew it. I think if you really think about it, you can come up with a few ways you learned from the experience and grew from it. Keep it short and stay positive.
- Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it. Go ahead and describe that difficult co-worker and how you locked them in the supply closet until the end of the day. Of course, I’m kidding! But it may be you worked with someone and your personalities conflicted. Explain how you overcame it. Employers love to hear that you faced the issue head-on and handled the situation professionally without intervention from management.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? I can honestly say that I’ve only recently committed to a 5-year plan. I can also honestly say that I have not yet nailed down a 10-year plan. Hiring managers will ask this question to get an idea of what your goals and aspirations are. Be honest here because it helps the hiring manager determine if you’re a good fit for each other.
- What questions do you have for me/us? See the next step. 😁
Ask The Questions You Prepared
In the previous installment of this series, we talked about preparing some questions to ask during the interview. Stick to 2 or 3 of your top questions and keep them simple. Don’t make them complex two-part questions. You may even come up with some questions during the interview that are more pertinent than what you prepared and that’s OK!
If the interviewer doesn’t volunteer the information, ask about the next steps. The interviewer should tell you what the next part of the interview process is including how long you should expect to wait to hear something. Often, they will tell you to reach out if you haven’t heard in a few weeks. Try not to read too much into the response you get because typically the manager does not make the hiring decisions alone. Often they have to consult with higher-level leadership or human resources.
Thank You Email
A thank you email is a great way to make a lasting impression. Thank the interviewer for taking time out of her/his day to speak to you and express excitement for the opportunity. Be sure to do this within a day or so of the face to face interview. You want to leave a positive, lasting impression!
After the interview is complete, it’s just a waiting game. It usually takes employers up to two weeks to finish the final background checks and make a decision. Sometimes it can take longer. In my case, I didn’t receive an offer for almost a month! What was amazing is that I received another offer the same week so I was in a position to weigh two options and choose the best fit for me. Talk about a great position to be in, right?
I truly hope these tips and tricks help you land the job of your dreams. I would love to hear about your interview experiences. Also, if you have any great tips on what to expect during a job interview, be sure to share them in the comments so other readers can benefit! Good luck and happy job hunting!