As we emerge from our home offices into a post-pandemic jobs market, you might be left wondering if the same hiring dos and don’ts as pre-COVID still apply. How do you impress a hiring manager who’s likely to be navigating ongoing uncertainty and ever-changing priorities?
Many organisations who made redundancies in 2020 are now hiring at speed in order to pick projects back up or cope with increased regulatory workload, meaning it’s a good time to be looking for a new role. Many great candidates, however, are seeking new opportunities after sitting tight in existing jobs for longer than they’d like, changing direction due to new priorities or getting back into work after unemployment. So how do you make yourself stand out? Follow our 10 tips below to guarantee you give a great interview, every time.
1. Video call interview? Get familiar with the platform
Are you Team Zoom? Team Hangout? Team Teams? Many interviews are still taking place over video conference as working patterns adjust back to office life. Or not! The hiring company may have longer term plans for remote working. Either way, if you’re going for multiple interviews then it’s likely some will be via video, and not always on a platform you’re accustomed to. Nothing throws you off track like digging out an invite two minutes before an interview and realising you need to install the app and register for an account. Familiarise yourself with the tools the day before so you can troubleshoot any issues.
2. Make sure your video game is strong for the video call interview
Confidence in handling yourself over video will suggest to potential employers that you’re resilient when faced with difficult circumstances. On the call itself, try to look into the lens when talking so it looks like you’re making eye contact with your interviewer. This will forge at least some human connection when face-to-face isn’t possible. Elevate your camera to eye level, make sure your background isn’t distracting, that you’re facing a light source and you’re dressed professionally (on the top half at least).
3. Do your homework
Asking questions is a must in any interview. But the interviewer has limited time to hone in on the key topics. Give them the best chance of achieving this by avoiding questions that are easily researched online such as “what does your product do?”, “how many people work here?” or the dreaded “how much holiday do you get?” so you have more time to engage them in a mutually beneficial dialogue.
4. Use storytelling to highlight your strengths
So many of us fall flat when faced with the classic “What are your strengths?”, “What are your weaknesses?”, “What’s been your biggest challenge?” type questions. If you can prepare a story that circles back to address each of the common questions, it can help the interviewer to envisage you exhibiting these positive behaviours in their organisation. The more specific the story (drop in a couple of interesting details), the more memorable they’ll find the exchange.
5. Be prepared to reflect on the impact of the pandemic
An interviewer might ask you to describe what you have learned about yourself during the pandemic. There’s a lot you can tell about a candidate’s attitude, resilience, and emotional intelligence by their answer to this question, as well as how you handle your emotions during a crisis so it’s helpful to have a talking point prepared.
6. Positivity reigns
No interviewer wants to listen to a candidate complain about their current or previous employer as it gives the impression you might bring this negativity to their team. Try to frame the challenging aspects of your role diplomatically and offer your thoughts about how you would look to remedy similar challenging situations in this role, so the interviewer sees you as a problem-solver with a good work ethic.
7. Give a ‘menu’ answer to the broad questions
It’s easy to fall into the comfort zone of reeling off a list of skills and experience when asked a question like “tell us about your experience in project management”. There are many directions you could take this in but it’s not the best use of the interviewer’s time to cover all bases. Start by listing the key headlines, almost like a menu: you have strong leadership skills; you have advanced knowledge of certain software; you pride yourself on strong budget management – before asking the interviewer if they would like you to dive deeper into a specific area. It shows that you are conscientious about making the interview a helpful experience for them.
8. Be clear on your own remote working policy
For many of us, the past year has seen a shift in attitudes towards remote working, with many deciding that they want to be fully remote or at least balance their days spent in and out of the office. You should be prepared to have an honest conversation with the employer if asked whether you’d be happy to transition back to an office setting, as many organisations are open to flexible working and may compromise for a good candidate.
9. Ask good questions!
Candidates who ask questions demonstrate that they are high-value critical thinkers. Leaving an interview without asking questions risks you coming across as not vetting the opportunity for yourself. As well as having the chance to find out about the interviewer’s experience of working for the business (you will hopefully have done prior research on LinkedIn), you get to ask things like what type of candidate is usually successful in this type of role, or how long they’ve been interviewing, or what have candidates been missing thus far. And so on. You’re allowing yourself to address these challenges head-on and get a feel for whether this is the kind of place you could make a difference in.
10. Reframe their questions into questions to suit your job search
Don’t forget that the interview exists to serve you as much as it does the hiring manager, and you want to know that your skills will be valued. If asked a question such as “Tell us about your leadership style”, flip it into another question. For example: “My style is highly collaborative. I get the most out of my team when I give each member an opportunity to own one operational improvement. Does that fit with the kind of leadership you are looking for?” which literally forces them to picture you in the role. And you can’t get closer to landing the job than that!