Looking for a job can be a long and difficult process, but it’s one that is necessary to go through. Though you are never fully in control, there are certain things you should definitely do to increase your chances of success.
The keyword is mindful preparation.
I’ve compiled in this post all the tips that I personally followed when I was looking for a job and that I now help people with through coaching.
» Before the interview
↳ Take a lot of notes during the preparation phase
Preparation is key to be successful in a job interview. You can’t expect to be successful with improvisation. Preparation will take a few hours as you need some research and think about what you are going to say. The best way – no, the only way to do this correctly is by taking notes. On your laptop or on paper. Whatever works for you, as long as it’s comfortable, easy, and you can go back to them.
These notes will help you with all the job interviews you are going to go through, with all the companies you are going to interview for. Write down everything that will be useful for you to remember.
↳ Research the people you are going to interview with on Linkedin
Take a look at the Linkedin profile of the people you are going to interview with to understand who they are and what their journey is. I find that it always helped me to know more about them, what they studied and what their career looked like. That way the interviewer doesn’t feel like a complete stranger.
↳ Explore the company’s products and services
Go on the company’s website and learn about all the services, products and solutions they offer, even if you won’t directly work with them.
If you can, I would even recommend you create a client/user account to see what the dashboard is like. Companies usually have a free trial, make good use of that. When I was interviewing people, the candidates who had created a customer account had definitely an advantage over those who didn’t. And it’s not that common, so do it!
↳ Read in details their “about” section
The “about” section of the company’s website is crucial. It can also be called “about”, “work with us”, “careers” or “join us”. You can usually find it on the top menu or in the footer.
Here’s what you need to take notes on:
- The company’s history: the year it was founded, any merger or acquisition, etc.
- The leadership team: who is the CEO?
- The mission and values: they are usually clearly stated
- The company culture: is it inclusive?
- Some data points: where the company is based, the number of employees, etc.
↳ Research the industry
Another very important aspect of the preparation is to get information on the industry, especially if you are interviewing for a role in a industry you are not experienced in.
Some things to know:
- Who are the competitors?
- What markets are they present in?
- What are the potential threats and opportunities?
↳ Read several times the job description
Obviously, reading several times the description to fully grasp what you’re applying for is a no-brainer. I would recommend taking note of the words used to describe the role, so that if you are asked to share what you understood of the position, you can use their own phrasing. Using the other person’s words is a coaching technique that helps build rapport and trust. Try it!
↳ Write down and practice your answers to interview questions
I cannot repeat enough that preparing a list of interview questions is not enough. You actually need to write down the answers and practice saying them several times. It feels like learning it by heart? That’s exactly what you should do.
Imagine preparing for an important presentation where you can’t have notes with you. What would you do? You would prepare what you want to say, learn it, and practice it. Interviewing is the exact same thing.
Now, I reckon it will be the most time-consuming phase of the preparation. One thing you can keep in mind is that you will be able to reuse your answers to most interviews you will do in the future. So keep your notes once they’re done, they might come in handy in the future (and will definitely save you time).
> Read our article: 30 Common Interview Questions & How To Answer Them
↳ Prepare questions to ask at the end
In my humble opinion of former hiring manager, not asking questions at the end of an interview is a terrible move, one that definitely leaves the interviewer unimpressed. Prepare a few questions to ask so you are covered if no question comes in during the interview.
> Read our articles:
↳ Have a salary expectation in mind
The topic of salary you will definitely come up, likely during the first screening call. In this blog post I give a few pointers on how to answer the question about your salary expectations.
↳ Pick an appropriate outfit for the interview
In some industries wearing a suit will be the norm. In any case, the minimum will always be business casual, that is dark pants, a casual shirt or top (but no t-shirt), a jacket and clean shoes.
» During the interview
↳ Be in the present
During the interview take your time to take mindful breaths. When the interviewer is talking, quickly shift your focus on one or two deep breaths. It will calm you instantly.
When you are the one talking, be aware of every word you say, of the people in front of you, of the room you are in. Pay attention to every detail to make sure you are fully grounded in the present.
↳ Be aware of your body language
What does it mean? Make sure you are mindful of your non-verbal communication:
- Have a firm handshake
- Smile and relax your face
- Don’t fidget (legs, finders)
- Make eye contact, but not in a weird way (aka: don’t forget to blink)
- If you feel like you’re starting to blush, breathe in and out discreetly
↳ Take your time to answer
Don’t rush before answering. Pause for a few seconds to gather your thoughts, remember the notes you took, and find a good example that will illustrate what you want to show. This is not a race and the speed of your answer will not be determinant.
↳ Answer the questions properly
There is nothing worse for an interviewer than a candidate who is vague and is not saying anything in their answers. Make sure you give a detailed reply and that you have at least one concrete example. Give the interviewer the information they asked and don’t beat around the bush. Be concise and direct.
↳ See it like a conversation
Reframe the interview to perceive it like a conversation. It is always pleasant for the interviewer to interact with the candidate in a natural way, like they would in a normal setting. How to transform the interview in a conversation?
- Ask some questions about what the interviewer is saying: they will discuss the role / team / company, etc. Make sure you show interest and curiosity by asking for more information or clarification.
- You can also connect with the person in front of you by proactively sharing examples in your past experience that relate to what they said.
» After the interview
↳ Send a thank you note
Contact the person you have been in touch with by email (very likely the recruiter) to thank them and share your positive experience of the interview.
Avoid researching the email address of the hiring manager or reaching out to them on Linkedin. The recruiter will forward your email internally to the people who were involved in the process.
↳ Keep your notes
Don’t throw away your interview notes until you actually sign a contract. Like I said at the beginning, you took a lot of time to reflect and write everything down, and you’ll be able to use all that in multiple interviews if needed. If the company has rejected your application, you can discard the notes about them, but do keep the answers to the interview questions.
↳ Reflect on what went well and what could have gone better
Without being too hard on yourself, take a moment when you can to reflect what what you did well and what you could have done better. It’s not about having regrets or being disappointed, but rather analysing the facts so you can learn from them in a rational, logical way.
↳ Then let it go
Once the interview is done and you have reflected on how it went, you can let go. Don’t overthink and wait for an answer, it’s unproductive. Just focus on things you have control over. I’m not just talking about working hard in your current job. I’m also thinking about going to the movies, organising a dinner party, relaxing at home. Anything that will serve you and make you feel good.