What To Know Before You Interview

Updated: Jan 27

The Biggest Reason why you're not getting the job!

Not knowing how to sell your personal brand is the biggest reason why you are not getting the job you desire. No one knows you better than you do and no one else can sell your skill set to an employer. Only you can! Therefore, you must be your own personal brand manager to market your own personal brand during the interview process. It is incredibly important for you to know who you are and to know how to market yourself and your “brand” so to speak - especially when interviewing for a new job opportunity. During an interview, you get to showcase who you are and how you can fulfill the needs of the employer as well as satisfy your needs financially and professionally. It sounds like a difficult task. But you don’t need to be a professional brand manager to pull this off! I will share with you what you should know when interviewing to give you the best chances of landing your next dream job. There’s a lot to go over here so this article is just the first in my new three part series, “The Biggest Reason Why You’re Not Getting the Job.” In this article, I’m going to introduce you to the different styles of interviewing and teach you how to prepare for them ahead of time.

First, let’s look at the different ways to interview. There are three types of interviews that are used primarily during the vetting process of a potential new employee of a company. Phone, video/virtual, and/or in-person interviews tend to be the most used. All three serve their purpose. Phone interviews are a screening process to see how well you communicate. Virtual or video interviews are the new normalcy replacing face-to-face interactions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As more and more companies switch over to video conferencing and virtual interviewing, requests for in-person interviews has dwindled significantly. I personally prefer in-person interviews, as you can learn so much more about a person face-to-face.

When a company requests an interview, there are certain ways you should prepare for each type to set yourself up for success. I would recommend the following preparations as best practices:

For a phone interview,

  • Make sure you’re by your phone with the volume up high 5 minutes prior to the call.

  • Print off a copy of your resume or have it opened on your computer during the interview.

  • During the call, make sure you’re smiling and expressing your enthusiasm for the role. It’s been scientifically proven that people can hear when you’re smiling or not.

  • "Smiling affects how we speak, to the point that listeners can identify the type of smile based on sound alone", according to a study by scientists at the University of Portsmouth. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080111224745.htm

  • Remember the role you applied for, the company and the person or people you’re meeting with.

For a virtual interview or video conference,

  • Show up dressed professionally (at least from the waist up). “You’ve got less than 30 seconds to make a first impression. People do judge a book by its cover.” stated by Evelinda Urman. https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2009/06/professional-polish

  • Use a blank background or use a background provided in the conferencing tool, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams (Skype will be obsolete soon), Google Meets, and more can be found in my blog post article, "Video Conferencing and Virtual Interviews."

  • Try to have as few distractions as possible. Keep your phone on silent, send your kids to the neighbor's house, put your pets in a separate room, ask your wife or partner to go to the grocery store, etc. You get the picture. We live in a different world. Welcome.

  • Arrive 5 minutes early to the video conference.

  • Make sure your microphone and camera are working on your computer prior to the meeting.

  • Steer away from using a phone or FACETIME (vomit) for your professional video interviews. Why not use your phone? Notifications and calls coming through could interrupt your video call. It could be embarrassing when you’re in the middle of answering a potential employer's interview question. It could throw you off and be off putting to the employer.

  • Print a copy of your resume and have it sitting out in front of you during the interview. If you have multiple screens, have it on one of your other screens.

  • Remember to smile and greet the interviewer while waiting for the interview to begin.

  • At the end of the interview, ask any follow up questions, thank the interviewer, and ask for next steps.

  • Do not chew gum during the interview and have a clean appearance just like if you’re going into a face-to-face interview.

For an in-person interview, during COVID-19,

  • Remember to wear your mask, practice social distancing, and nod to greet rather than shaking hands. Some people are in the habit of needing to greet by touching their elbows. Follow your interviewer’s cues. Times have changed and everyone has their own comfort level. Side note, I worked for a dental association in 2013 and one of the periodontists would never shake anyone's hands and I understood why then because his hands were always in a patient's mouth. So, it made sense. Now it’s just weird.

  • Make sure to bring 3 copies of your resume: one for yourself, one for the hiring manager and one for human resources. It is also a good idea to bring a portfolio with a pen and paper to take notes.

  • Check the traffic before you leave to avoid being late and try to arrive no more than 15 minutes ahead of time. Look for construction, accidents, weather conditions, etc.

  • During the interview, do everything you’d do during a virtual interview but be more mindful of your body language which can tell a lot about your interest in the position.

For all three types of interview, proper preparation is required. In my opinion, not having a plan of action for your interview is the number one mistake people make during the job search process. You should be preparing and doing the necessary research to be successful in getting the “offer”. That’s the goal, right? Doing research about the company and the people that work there is key to being successful in your interview. You can research on LinkedIn to view an employer’s company profile or to review the backgrounds of the employees that currently work for the company you’re applying for. You’ll have tons to talk about and you’ll already know if you’d be fit with the team or have anything in common which I think is important. It’s a good way to impress the team you’re hoping to work for. If it’s not the right fit, though, don’t force it. People can see right through someone who is just obliging and flying by the seat of our pants.

Knowing the company's mission statement, and core values as well as how it is aligns with yours is a way to make a connection with the interviewer. Plus, it could potentially lead to a win-win outcome for both parties if the company's culture is one in which you’d thrive. There’s less likely a chance that down the road you’ll leave because of this reason. In addition, the employer will receive a high return on investments from your contributions and productivity.

Information such as how long the company has been around, their industry, the company’s size, and the product and services they provide are all important to know and quite difficult to incorporate in an interview, but it can be done. This can be found on the company’s website. I’d also suggest researching the interviewer's background through LinkedIn. Not everyone has a professional page but if they do, I’d peek and see if there are any connections or if there is something in their background you’re interested in knowing more about. Heck, ask why they left each company. You’re getting to know the company and the people you’ll potentially work with so it’s important to note that you’re interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you.

When you’re doing your research, look at the interview process from the perspective of the employer. Consider what they are looking for while you’re doing your research and preparing to answer potential interview questions that they may be asked during the interview. The best place to start your research is the job description because the client provides you with the blueprint to what they are looking for in their next new hire or employee. And, I know most employers are asking for too much or are looking for the perfect candidate which in the industry we call a “purple squirrel." We all know that doesn’t exist. Ultimately, though, the employer is evaluating your aptitude for doing the job functions required for the position you applied for, your ability to make a positive contribution to the organization's financial growth and if you’re a culture fit.

Employers are always looking to see how you can be an asset to the company, how your contributions will affect the organization's financial growth, if you’d be a good fit with the current team and with the overall company culture. Individuals with diverse backgrounds in their work history as well as in their demographics is beneficial for any organization.

In my experience, I’ve witnessed diverse candidates shine a light on blind spots within the organization that impacted the company’s strategies and revenue negatively. It is essential to have talented people on the team that can, one, identify problems and challenges within the organization, two, are fearless in bringing it to senior leadership's attention, and, then ultimately, assisting in bringing about changes to the landscape of a broken internal process. By implementing process improvements, it saves money and positively impacts the company’s bottom line and overall well-being of the organization. Leading to widespread changes throughout the entire company. Change that matters in the big picture.

Diverse perspectives are crucial for an employer's overall financial health too. For most of us, we are in the trenches and are on the frontlines as far as talking to clients, vendors, customers, candidates, employers, or whomever. We are the eyes and ears for senior leadership. Being able to partner with all levels of internal and external stakeholders of all backgrounds is also a vital part of the overall operations of most, if not all, employers in our capitalist market.

In my opinion, I believe diverse candidates tend to outperform colleagues who’ve been with their employer for a number years or, in many cases, decades and will have higher productivity results too by being more efficient with their time or just having better work/life balance. One thing is for sure, though, the candidates that stick out the most have high business acumen, are more charismatic, and articulate; exuding positivity, and have visibly successful careers.

All-in-all, we looked at the 3 types of interviews, how you should prepare for each, what you should prepare for, how you should go about preparing for your interview, what you should research and what employers are looking for overall that you should prepare in order to be able to answer questions before the interview even begins.

In my next blog post article, I’ll provide answers to question’s companies tend to ask during the interview, and how to answer these questions, especially the questions asking for your salary expectations and the infamous "Tell me about your self". Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it and if anything resonated with you, I’d love to hear your comments and feedback.

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