Nail that interview! Tips and tricks for a successful interview


Is the forgotten New Years resolution coming to haunt you? Maybe it is the winter doldrums or the impending birth of spring. You want a change and decided that a new job is the answer. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to switch jobs for a long time and a recent round of cut backs has forced your hand. Whatever the reason for your search, you’ve applied and the company wants to meet YOU! Don’t get too stressed over the interview. Follow these tips and you will nail your interview.

Know the job you are applying for

  • Kristen: First, please read the job description. Make sure you understand all of the required skills and tasks that you would perform in the role. It is important that you can speak to everything in the job description. Be able to make connections between your past experience and what the company wants from their new team member. Sometimes a job description might include a sentence or two about the company. Make sure to read those sentences and be able to speak to why you want to work for a company like that.
  • Heather:  You should also have spent the time to learn about the company.  With Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Glassdoor and many other sites, there is every opportunity to read up on the company with whole you are interviewing.  We (as interviewers) have spent time reviewing your qualifications and resume, so you should spend the time to do some research on us as well.

Know your audience

  • Kristen: Speak to the level of your audience. Every industry has its own jargon. Try not to drown the administrative assistant in technical talk and don’t speak to your prospective boss as if they  “green behind the ears”.  As a technical recruiter for an IT startup, I keep up with the technologies and processes that my company uses in order to find other people who do too. If you are unsure of how much detail to talk about … Ask!
  • Heather:  I agree with Kristen.  There is nothing wrong with asking “would you like me to go into detail?”

Remember, It’s just a conversation

  • Kristen: Don’t freak out – we just want to get to know you. Sometimes, I liken recruiting to meeting someone out at happy hour. At my stage of interviewing, the candidate screen, I’m trying to find out who you are. What is your level of experience? What drives you? Do you like what you do for a living? Why or why not? By the time you are invited to continue to subsequent rounds of interviews, be confident in your skills and past experience. Try to let your knowledge shine through.
  • Heather: Remember you are also interviewing us as a company to see if we are a good fit for you. Try to relax, because the interview should be a two way street!  We want you to like us as much as we like you. You should ask questions like, what the work is like, how do people work in the office, and what does the interviewer like about the company they work for.  You and the interviewer should BOTH be trying to get as much information about the other as possible

Anything on your resume is fair game

  • Kristen: Be aware, if you have work cited on your resume, it is fair game for questions. Be prepared to answer questions related to your resume. If I am looking for a front end developer with experience in a specific library, and you have this technology on your resume, my technical team and I are going to ask you about it, in detail.
  • Heather:  Tailor your resume for the job you want.  This is where prior research will help you understand what the company you are applying for would like to see.  If you apply for a management position, and your resume has mostly developer experience, I am most likely going to pass.

Ask questions

  • Kristen: I love it when candidates have questions for me. As a recruiter, my spiel is stock information that addresses most concerns. When you ask me questions, you show me that you are really thinking about my company. You’ve thought about what it may be like to work with my team.
  • Heather:  It should be a personal requirement to write down 5-6 questions you may want to ask the interviewer ahead of time.  This way, even if the interviewer addresses your concerns, you will be able to have another question in your arsenal.  If you ask no questions, it gives the impression that you don’t care.  Also refrain from using stock questions for every company.  If you take the time to research the company, you should be able to ask specific questions.

Dress for the role you want

  • Kristen: If you are invited to interview onsite, you may wonder what to wear. Face it, a coder at an early stage start up will be much more casual than a trading floor systems engineer in a large investment bank. If you are worried about what to wear, ask the recruiter or hiring manager who is setting up your interview. If the answer they give you is vague, look for clues on the company website or opt for business casual.
  • Heather: Even if the recruiter says you can dress casual, I would still wear business casual as a standard.  There is no harm in looking polished and professional.  However, wearing a suit and tie when the dress is casual would be overboard and uncomfortable for you and the person interviewing you.  The outfit you wear should still reflect your personal style, and be something you are comfortable in.

Please be on time

  • Kristen: If you are running late, call or email the company so they know you are delayed.
  • Heather: On time means at least 5 minutes early in my book.  It is beneficial to get to the office early for an interview.  Being early may give you an opportunity to speak with people on the team that is not slated to interview you.  Thus, giving you the opportunity to learn more about the company, and get on someone’s radar who may give input on their impression of you.  You will also get a better chance to see how the company is run, and meet more people so you can gauge if you see yourself fitting in or not.

In conclusion

Interviewing is a two way street. It is the most effective way to find out if the company is right for you. Follow the tips above and be confident in your own abilities. When you are calm and confident, your personality and skills will shine through. You will nail that interview.

Please include any questions below and we will try our best to answer them.

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