Pre Interview Reflection Excercise
Did you know that a typical corporate job posting will attract 100+ resumes on average? So how can one beat that?
Good question. We’d have some pre-interview reflections and exercises that can improve your chances of success in the interview. Also, these will help ease your nerves and improve your overall interview experience!
The only real fear is fear of the unknown. In short get better informed with the job description, perfect your pitch, address “skills gaps” and get excited about the opportunity.
Take the Job description and Do this:
- Read it twice.
This one is obvious, read the job description TWICE. It will help you internalize what the client is looking for. Not only will this get you in the right mindset, but it’ll help jumpstart the pre-interview exercises that follow.
- Use a highlighter to highlight
Group the key skills/responsibilities mentioned that you’ve done or used. Aligning your skills to the client’s requirements is a great way to build confidence. It will come in handy if you are faced with some version of “Why are you a fit?
Use a different color to highlight the key skills or responsibilities you have NOT done or used, or maybe you have not used it in a while. It may help you realize that while you don’t have that particular skill/technology/responsibility, you’ve worked with something that may be similar to it. Visualizing skills gaps will assist you in preparing an action plan for what to say if the interviewer notices it.
- List out why you’re qualified for this role.
Identify 4-6 key components that you can pitch from your resume. What skills, successes, experience, etc. have you had that are pertinent to the role you’re interviewing for?
Answering questions such as the below can be a big confidence booster, and again, can help frame a very strong and relevant “pitch”:
• How many years of experience do you have with key technologies/requirements listed?
• What projects have you completed that align with what is mentioned?
• What certifications/education do you have that it requires and prefers?
• What other experience/accomplishments do you have that make you highly qualified to contribute to this role?
- Practice and Preparation:
I do not believe in luck I believe in Preparation.
Taking time to prepare well thought out questions that are relevant for the interview, is crucial to help ensure you have an accurate reflection of what the role will look like. Also, helps you ensure you’re communicating your interest and relevant skills or background.
- Do some research on the company.
Read websites (company website, glassdoor, LinkedIn, etc.), annual reports, recent publications, and newspapers to find out about the field in general and the company in particular. Write down what interests you about them and a few questions you have for the Interviewer.
Why are you interested?
What excites you about the role, company, responsibilities, etc.?
• Interests may include, but are not limited to:
• Technological landscape
• Interest in the services provided
• Company awards and recognition - Best Places to Work, Fastest Growing, Most Innovative, etc.
• Company reputation and overall values
• Company initiatives such as philanthropic partnerships, training programs, etc.
- Outline why you are interested in and excited about this role.
Demonstrating an interest in the position, company, industry, clients they support, etc. can be a major candidate differentiator, as the interviewer wants to hire individuals who are excited about the work and will be long-term contributors!
It’s a given that you’ll be asked something similar to “why do you want to work here” or “why are you interested in this company or job,” so it’s important to be prepared!
The interviewer is looking for things that align with their role and the company’s goals and values. Know what appeals and interests you and ensure you can effectively communicate it.
- How to Address skills or technologies you do not have?
Identify what skills or technologies you do NOT have and determine how you’ll address, i.e. “While I do not have experience with this technology, I have experience with that ...”
You have already highlighted any skills gaps in point 2, so now is the time to prepare your reply when they ask about a skill or technology that you don’t have experience with.
For example, “While I don’t have experience with SQL Server 2016, I have worked with it in my home environment” OR “While I don’t have experience with SQL Server 2016, I have completed an online training course on SQL Server intermediate".
A very important note here is that most recruiters will interview and hire candidates who do NOT have everything on their original requirements wish list. But, job seekers or candidates get discouraged when they’re missing a technology, version of a technology, or other skill listed as a requirement.
Do not let a missing skill or technology hold you back from applying to an interview or during the interview process.
Engage in SWOT analysis of your resume to the job description: What skills, tools, instruments, approaches, certifications, etc. are you lacking that the position is asking for and how could you refute that “skill concern?”
- Practice your pitch.
Often the first question asked by employers is “tell me about yourself” and your answer should be a 30-second to 2-minute pitch briefly describing your background, qualifications, and why you are interested in the job.
You can think of your pitch much like a cover letter, but out loud, touching on the most relevant aspects of your background that qualify you for the position. Discuss some key experiences you’ve had, the skills gained from those experiences, and how they relate to the job for which you are interviewing.
- Don’t Plan for an Interview, but a Conversation
A good interview is a conversation, where both sides are engaged. The purpose is to discover if the position is a match. Ask good questions.
Be polite, be professional, but relax.
- Think About Your Brand - But Don’t Be a Jerk
Listen carefully now: You’re not trying to sell recruiters a car. You are a person.
The job of a hiring manager is not to judge your safety features or net-worth; it’s to find the person most suited for a particular job. As a result, an interviewer’s skill is to detect and weed out readymade responses.
A readymade response is the blandest possible answer to any given question, equivalent to not answering the question at all.
Optional best practice:
Invest time brushing upon, or learning, any skills/technologies the position asks for that you don’t have recent, or any, experience with.
Just remember that you got the interview for a reason!
It is OK to be nervous. It’s even OK to briefly admit or apologize for your nerves.
What’s important is that you don’t let nerves get in the way of what you’re there to do. Demonstrate that you can hold a simple conversation, and explain to someone interested in hiring you exactly why they should.