Career Exploration Steps for Students
Career Exploration Steps for Students
November 5, 2019

Interviewing Basics in 2020

Interviewing Basics in 2020

You have created resumes and cover letters and targeted employers. After some time, you have been invited for an interview. Now what? Let’s cover today some interviewing basics in 2020 for you to get that job!

Things to take on the interview

Taking many things to your interview is overrated. Let me talk from my personal experience here, I used to prep really well. I had a bottle of water, a snack, mints, several resumes, references and even a book I helped to design to show how versatile I was, and list can carry on. But I was so nervous, so I couldn’t eat. I was consumed in the conversation or action; the water was always provided, and I realised I was clogging my mind with remembering these things for no reason.

Then I met some career consultants who recommended to take cash with you in case you’ve been offered a coffee and they don’t accept cards or to pay for parking but isn’t it too much?

That said, my point here is keep it smart. I Use PPPR: Pen, Pad, Phone Charger, Resume. This list of basic items will get you through the most of interviews you will ever have.

Dressing for the interview

I have covered the Interview Attire in this article , so make sure to check it out and give it some love. Apart from what I mentioned in the article, I just wanted to remind you a couple of simple guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Classic suits in darker colours are best for conservative industries and consulting companies. More creative industries may allow a little more flexibility.  Stay away from anything that could distract the interviewer.
  • Avoid flashy attire, hairstyles, and accessories in any interview. Hair, make-up and jewellery should be classic and understated. Avoid putting intense perfume or colognes.
  • If you do have a beard or moustache, make sure it is well-trimmed.  Goatees, “5 day stubble” and long sideburns are considered trendy and are not appropriate for most professional interviewing situations

Non-Verbal Messages

Much of how and what we communicate is done through non-verbal communication.  According to some studies, as much as 90% of our communication is done through body language.  This is especially true during a job interview.   You need to be aware of the messages you are conveying both verbally and non-verbally.  It is important that you create a positive impression non-verbally. Remember you interview the company the same way they interview you, relax and try to get to know the person on the other side of the table.

  • If you are not familiar with the area where the interview is held do a “dry run” of locating the interview. Arrive to the interview early and walk around the block. This will relieve stress and help you to perform better.
  • Maintaining good eye contact with the employer shows that you are present and engaged in the interview. 
  • Make sure you have a firm handshake (no limp wrist handshakes) and look the employer in the eye.
  • It is a good thing if you had a chance to do an informational interview with someone from the organisation ahead of time. Check this article to find out how to conduct an Informational Interview.
  • Check them on LinkedIn! Find out about your interviewer’s career path ahead of time to know who is in front of you. Add me too 😉

Interviewing Basics: What Do Employers Look For During the Interview?

I will soon create a series of articles around particular questions you may be asked during your interviews and will help you to understand them better and will help you come up with optimal answers to those questions. Meanwhile, as part of interviewing basics, here’s three things employer will look to find out from interviewing you:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you do the job?
  3. Will you be a good fit for the organization?

Your job is to provide enough solid information to answer an unequivocal “YES!” to all three of them. To do so effectively, you will need to be aware of the specific characteristics employers seek in new hires.  According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), who surveys hundreds of employers each year, the attributes most highly sought after are:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Motivation/initiative
  3. Honesty/integrity   
  4. Strong work ethic
  5. Interpersonal/ Teamwork skills

They will most probably tailor their questions to find these attributes in you through your past experiences and projects.

What Should You Look For During the Interview?

But interviewer is not only person performs an assessment here. Just as employers interview you to see if you are a fit, remember that you are interviewing them as well.

By being attentive and thoughtful, you can learn important things about an organization during the interview.  Some things you may want to consider include:

  1. Does the nature of the job sound interesting?
  2. Are you excited about the possibility of this position?
  3. How does the organization’s mission match with your interests?
  4. How do the other employees interact with each other?
  5. Does the job match your career interests?

Questions to Ask

  • Interviewers appreciate and expect questions, and the questions should never seem as if they are being read (See a list of questions below).The key is to show you have done your research and are interested in the company and the position.  
  • You never ask the employer about salary. Your research of the industry should give you an idea of what the position will pay.  The interviewer is responsible for initiating negotiations on salary and may not mention salary at all during a first interview or until a job offer is made.
  1. What do you think are the greatest challenges associated with this position?
  2. How would you describe the organization’s culture?
  3. What would be a typical career path for someone in this position?
  4. How is performance evaluated? 
  5. What do you look for in an ideal candidate? (my personal favourite question, ask this during your first interview and you will know what to do during the next interviews!)
  6. What is the percentage of teamwork to individual work? 
  7. What do you like best about working here? (I always ask what people don’t like too, if they have regrets and try to understand their personal motivation)
  8. What is the next step in the process? Close up with this question to find out an employer’s deadline for making a hiring decision. Having a specific time frame will help you in your follow-up.

Follow Up

  • Always send a thank you note to the employer within 24 hours of the interview.  Thank you’s written after a job interview could be emailed, typed on business-sized paper and mailed, or, if you have legible handwriting, you could write a thank you note on heavy card stock and mail it. If the employer initially contacted you by email to schedule the interview, it is perfectly acceptable to send the thank you note via email. You may also want to follow up with a hard copy of your thank you.
  • If you met with more than one person on the interview, it is not necessary to send each person a thank you letter. You can if you wish, or you can send one thank you to the person who arranged the interviews and have them thank all the interviewers and list the interviewers by name. (In order to spell their names correctly, request business cards at the interview).

Let me know if this was helpful and how did your interview go in the comments and good luck! I will see you next time!

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