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A Comprehensive Guide to Nailing Your Job Interview: Resources and Tips

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Preparing for a job interview can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. It's a crucial opportunity to showcase your skills, experience, and personality to potential employers. To help you put your best foot forward and enjoy the experience, we've gathered a range of valuable resources and tips that cover interview warm-ups to acing video and in-person interviews with your presence and self-confidence.

Ensure you are ready with thorough research, practice, and redundancy. By utilizing the information provided, you can approach your interview with a well-prepared mindset and make a remarkable impression on potential employers. Remember to leverage the insights on mastering various types of questions, enhancing your LinkedIn presence, and sending a thank-you letter. With these tools in your arsenal, you are well on your way to success in your job search journey. Best of luck!

There are currently over 1.5 million job openings in the U.S. in rapidly expanding sectors like data analytics, digital marketing, e-commerce, IT support, project management, and UX design. Google Career Certificates was initiated to equip individuals with the necessary skills for these roles. As of 2021, over 70,000 individuals have obtained a certificate, with 75% reporting a positive career effect within six months of completion.

Equally crucial as acquiring job skills is mastering the techniques for job acquisition, such as networking, application processes, resume creation, and interview preparedness. Recognizing the challenges of interviewing in a new domain without adequate guidance, Google has introduced a new tool named "Interview Warmup". This tool allows users to practice interview questions, curated by industry professionals. Machine learning transcribes users' responses in real-time, providing insights into their answers, highlighting frequently used job-related terms, and illustrating the time allocated to discussing various aspects like experience, skills, and goals.

Though created for Google Career Certificates learners, Interview Warmup is available for all and includes general questions pertinent to a variety of fields. Google is currently soliciting feedback to enhance this tool, especially as a quarter of U.S. workers look for new job opportunities. Tools like Interview Warmup demonstrate how technology can assist individuals in honing the skills needed to progress in their careers. Together with training initiatives like Google Career Certificates, they aim to boost economic mobility and enable more individuals to transition into rapidly expanding industries. (1)

Knowing the questions a hiring manager might ask can be beneficial for interview preparation. While it's not advisable to have rehearsed answers, it's helpful to familiarize oneself with common questions and understand the underlying intentions behind them.

  1. Tell me about yourself: Provide a concise overview of your professional background, experience, and a bit about your personal interests.

  2. Walk me through your resume: Highlight key roles, responsibilities, achievements, and progression in your career.

  3. How did you hear about this position?: Answer truthfully; if a referral, mention their name.

  4. Why do you want to work at this company?: Mention the company's reputation, culture, products, or any other genuine attraction.

  5. Why do you want this job?: Align your skills and passion with the job responsibilities.

  6. Why should we hire you?: Showcase how your skills, experience, and passion make you the best fit.

  7. What can you bring to the company?: Talk about unique experiences, skills, or perspectives you offer.

  8. What are your greatest strengths?: Stick to qualities that are relevant to the job.

  9. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?: Show self-awareness and how you're working to improve.

  10. What is your greatest professional achievement?: Highlight a quantifiable achievement and explain its impact.

  11. Challenges at work: Discuss a problem, your solution, and the outcome.

  12. Leadership skills: Provide an instance where you took charge, showing the result.

  13. Disagreeing with decisions: Explain the situation, how you expressed disagreement, and the resolution.

  14. Mistake: Admit the error, explain the lessons learned, and how you avoid repeating it.

  15. Time you failed: Show resilience by explaining how you bounced back.

  16. Why are you leaving?: Talk about looking for growth opportunities, not the negatives of your current job.

  17. Why were you fired?: Be honest, but concise. Highlight what you've learned from it.

  18. Gap in employment: Be truthful, and explain any personal or professional reasons briefly.

  19. Change in career paths: Discuss what motivated the change and why it's a positive shift.

  20. Current salary: Be honest or alternatively, check if it's appropriate to ask this in your location.

  21. Least favorite thing about your job: Be diplomatic and focus on looking for growth, not disparaging your current role.

  22. Looking for in a new position: Align with the job you're interviewing for.

  23. Work environment preference: Be honest but flexible.

  24. Work style: Talk about how you approach tasks and collaborate.

  25. Management style: Discuss how you lead or wish to be led.

  26. How others describe you: Mention qualities that align with the job.

  27. Dealing with stress: Offer practical methods you use.

  28. Outside of work: Share some personal hobbies or interests.

  29. Planning on having children?: It's often inappropriate or illegal to ask this. Politely steer the conversation back to professional topics.

  30. Organization: Mention tools or methods you use.

  31. Prioritizing work: Explain your approach to managing tasks.

  32. Passions: Talk about professional or personal passions.

  33. Motivations: What drives you in your job or personal life.

  34. Pet peeves: Answer diplomatically; don't vent.

  35. How you like to be managed: Describe your ideal managerial relationship.

  36. Consider yourself successful?: Showcase your achievements and personal growth.

  37. Future aspirations: Relate your goals to the job you're applying for.

  38. Dream job: Align closely with the job at hand.

  39. Other interviews: Be truthful but brief.

  40. What makes you unique?: Discuss unique experiences, perspectives, or skills.

  41. What’s not on your resume?: Talk about a relevant experience or personal project.

  42. First few months in role: Show how you'd get acclimated and start contributing.

  43. Salary expectations: Research beforehand and provide a competitive range.

  44. Feedback for company: Offer constructive, positive feedback.

  45. Start date: Give a realistic start date, considering any current job commitments.

  46. Relocation: Answer truthfully; if open, show enthusiasm.

  47. How many tennis balls can you fit in a limousine?: These questions test problem-solving. Outline your thought process.

  48. If you were an animal: Provide an animal and a reason that aligns with the job.

  49. Sell me this pen: Showcase your selling techniques.

  50. Anything else: Offer any final positive thoughts or skills you haven’t mentioned.

  51. Questions for us?: Always have questions; they show your interest in the position and company.

Remember, while these are guidelines, always be genuine and true to yourself in your responses. (2)

In the digital age, having a strong LinkedIn presence is essential for networking and job hunting. The Coffee Series by presenter Ted Robinson offers valuable tips on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile and stand out to potential employers. From crafting an attention-grabbing headline to building a robust professional network, this resource will help you make a positive impact in the virtual job market. (3)

While most know the essential setup for video interviews—quiet location, functional mic, and proper attire—it's time to elevate the game, especially with platforms like Google Hangout, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams growing in popularity. Career coaches emphasize being genuine and confident, akin to in-person interviews. Yet, mastering video interviews has its nuances to ensure interviewers focus on your strengths, not technical glitches. For a more detailed guide on handling pre-scripted digital interviews, delve further.

  1. Treat It Like an In-Person Interview: Even if it's virtual, an interview remains significant. Prepare as you would for an in-office meeting: research the company, anticipate common questions, and think of queries to pose to the interviewer. Prove you're the right fit.

  2. Dress Appropriately: Dress formally, as you would for a face-to-face interview. Ensure the attire looks decent on camera and is wholly professional—even at home. Check how outfits appear on your selected platform. As Tucker points out, dressing up for an hour won't hurt, but not doing so might.

  3. Ensure Tech Reliability: Test your tech setup, using the platform and devices intended for the interview. Engage in a video chat with a friend to confirm audibility and visibility. Know the basics, like muting and unmuting.

  4. Optimize Your Setting: The onus of the interview environment falls on you for video meetings. Select a quiet space with a neutral backdrop. Ensure proper lighting, preferably natural, emanating from behind your device. If lighting is challenging, consider tools like a selfie ring light.

  5. Maintain Proper Distance: Ensure a balanced distance from the camera. Neither too close nor too far, maintain some space above your head on-screen and ensure visibility of your shoulders and upper chest.

  6. Eye Contact is Key: Though direct eye contact isn't feasible in video chats, mimic it by looking straight ahead, not down. Position the interviewer's window close to your camera and centered. This ensures when you look at their face, it feels like genuine eye contact.

  7. Eliminate Glare: Check for reflections or glares from accessories like watches, jewelry, or glasses. To reduce eyeglass glare: Adjust or relocate lamps, experiment with lampshades, adjust your device's position, consider the time of day and natural light.

  8. Practice Makes Perfect: Not everyone's accustomed to video chatting. A mock video interview helps identify areas of improvement. Record your practice to self-review, ensuring good eye contact, proper posture, and eliminating distractions. Practice discussing significant aspects of your background to avoid errors during the real interview.

  9. Audibility Matters: Ensure clarity in your speech. Monitor your speech pace, tone, and pitch. Speak clearly, but naturally. Use voice modulation to express excitement or emphasize important points.

  10. Use Notes Sparingly: While it might be tempting to have extensive notes since the interviewer won't see them, use them judiciously. A few key figures or points are fine, but avoid reading verbatim. Some suggest forgoing notes entirely, emphasizing the importance of a natural conversation. If you do opt for notes, practice with them to ensure they don't disrupt the interview's flow.

  11. Minimize Interruptions: Ensure you're in a quiet space free from disturbances. If there's potential for interruption (like a barking dog), inform your interviewer in advance. PRG stresses the importance of professionalism in your home setting.

  12. Be Early: Don’t wait until the last minute. Prepare your computer by closing unnecessary tabs, and be ready to join the video interview a few minutes before the scheduled time. Use the moments before to relax and get in the right headspace.

  13. Digital Handshake: Start your video interview by directly looking into the camera, nodding, and smiling. This forms an initial connection, mimicking a real-life handshake.

  14. Acknowledge Differences: It's okay to point out differences between in-person and video interviews. Being upfront about any technical challenges shows transparency.

  15. Good Posture Matters: Sit up straight and appear engaged. It is suggested to stand if it helps maintain energy, but avoid excessive movement.

  16. Show Engagement Through Facial Expressions: Given the limitations of video, it’s crucial to convey attentiveness through facial expressions. Avoid talking over your interviewer as simultaneous speech can cause tech issues.

  17. Listen Fully: Wait for the other person to finish speaking before responding, given the potential for internet lag and technical delays.

  18. Signal End of Responses: Provide clear indications when you've finished answering a question to prevent awkward pauses.

  19. Clarify Long Pauses: If you're taking a moment to think or note something down, let the interviewer know, so they're not left wondering.

  20. Treat it Like a Conversation: Engage with the interviewer conversationally, building rapport and avoiding a strict Q&A format. It's essential to connect personally while remaining professional.

The primary objective for a candidate in a video interview, just as in an in-person one, is to demonstrate suitability for the job. Coaches emphasize that the primary focus should be on forming a connection with the interviewer, rather than getting bogged down by the video aspect. (4)

While resumes and social media provide fragmented insights about candidates, interviews allow a more holistic portrayal of one's abilities and personality. Platinum Resource Group emphasizes the importance of using interviews to narrate a consistent and engaging story about one's achievements and career path. This story-telling approach, connecting one's experiences to the employer's needs, is more impactful than merely listing past roles and skills.

  1. Experts suggest that candidates should clarify questions during interviews rather than fearing misperception. PRG advises treating the interview as a two-way conversation, enabling candidates to better assess company fit. They recommend candidates probe into the company's values, culture, and challenges by asking insightful questions.

  2. It is said that candidates falter by pausing or saying "I don't know" during interviews. Instead, experts advise displaying humble confidence by echoing the question and verbalizing one's thought process, which may prompt the interviewer to offer hints.

  3. Nonverbal cues play a significant role in interviews, and mastering body language can reflect confidence and composure, according to experts. Practicing eye contact, posture, and other body language elements through mock interviews can help address potential weak spots. Deep and steady breathing before and during the interview can also help maintain a calm demeanor and reduce anxiety.

  4. Thorough knowledge of your resume enhances your credibility during interviews. PRG advises using statistics to contextualize and highlight achievements, emphasizing that specific figures, like serving 120 customers weekly with a 75% resolution rating, are more impactful than vague statements. Quantifying achievements bolsters their authenticity and significance.

  5. Hiring managers might gather fragmented information about you from social media and your resume, but interviews allow you to present a fuller, accurate portrayal of yourself. PRG emphasizes that interviews are chances to cohesively narrate your personal and professional story. Sharing stories of your achievements that align with the employer's needs is more impactful than merely listing past job duties and skills.

  6. Thoroughly researching a company and its position is essential for job seekers, but leveraging this information during the interview is equally important. Experts suggest that candidates should be informed about the company's community, its location, job role, and overall structure to demonstrate fit. Using LinkedIn to understand the backgrounds of the hiring team and following the company on social media and setting Google alerts to craft informed and specific interview responses. (5)

Interviews need not be nerve-wracking experiences; they can also be enjoyable and interactive. Though maintaining professionalism is crucial, injecting a touch of humor and enthusiasm can create a positive and memorable impression. Employers often seek candidates who display a positive attitude and a sense of adaptability. While it's important to answer questions thoughtfully, don't hesitate to show your personality and engage in light-hearted conversation when appropriate. Remember, the goal is not just to demonstrate your skills but also to see if you'd be a good fit for the company culture. (6)

After a job interview, it's advisable to send a thank-you email or letter within 24 hours. The message should be addressed correctly, be brief, and express gratitude for the interviewer's time. Highlight a memorable aspect of the conversation, convey your interest in the position, and offer to answer any further questions. Take notes during the interview to make the follow-up more meaningful. To leave a positive impression, avoid adding excessive detail, making requests, and ensure your thank you is free from typos and grammatical errors. (7)

  1. Haines, J. (2022, June 2). Helping job seekers prepare for interviews. Grow With Google.

  2. The Muse Editors. (2023, January 4). Your 2023 Guide to the Most Common Interview Questions and Answers. The Muse.

  3. Robinson, T. (2023, June 16). Enhancing Your LinkedIn Presence with PRG's Friday Coffee Series. PRG YouTube Channel.

  4. Borsellino, R. (2023, June 1). 20 Video Interview Tips to Help You Dazzle the Hiring Manager and Get the Job. The Muse.

  5. Mudrick, R. (2023, February 21). 6 Interview Skills That Will Get You Hired. Business News Daily.

  6. Fisher, N. (2022, October 15). How to Have Fun in a Job Interview with PRG's Friday Coffee Series. PRG YouTube Channel.

  7. Littlefield, C. (2022, November 30). How to Write a Thank You Email After an Interview. Harvard Business Review.

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