Amid massive layoffs caused by the economic downfall from COVID-19, thousands of Americans are looking to kickstart their careers or find a new job. If you’re coping with unemployment there’s no better time to start preparing for your future career. So, here’s six important tips to help you prep for your next interview.
Do Your Research
If you’re stuck at home with nothing to do, take the time to do your research and learn more about potential companies that are hiring. There are several ways to go about company research. The best method is to start by researching the role you’d be applying for. In other words, if you’re a computer programmer, look at the expectations they have for hirees. Maybe they require a certain coding language or skill.
Once you’ve researched the position, make sure to do your research on the company itself and what it’s like to work there. Understanding the company culture will help you better prepare to answer potential interview questions. During your interview, the interviewer will typically assess how you’d fit into the company culture. If you have a good grasp of what they’re looking for, you’ll be in good hands.
One great way to get an understanding of the company and its culture is by checking out websites like Glassdoor or Indeed. These websites allow employees to post company reviews and display the pros and cons of working at the company. This is an ideal way to understand what the company values and what the company culture looks like. It can also help you gauge whether applying to the position is even worth your time.
You’ll also want to research the product or service that the company offers. For example, if you’re working for a technology company or a startup that’s working on an app, you’ll want to know what the product does and how it aims to help clients. Understanding the background of the product will help in responding to interview questions and shows that you’ve done your research.
Take A Class
If you’ve researched the company and position and you’re missing a key skill or technique, consider taking a class. You can access thousands of free and inexpensive courses through various universities using websites like Coursera, edX, and Udemy. If you’re a computer coder who is looking to learn a new language, consider checking out freeCodeCamp, a website that offers certificates in responsive website design and data visualization, tangible skills you can tack onto your resume.
Conduct Informational Interviews
The best way to understand the company and position that you are applying for is by conducting informational interviews. An informational interview is basically a conversation with a current or former employee about their experiences at the company and their position. It’s low risk, easy to arrange, and most individuals are more than willing to share their experiences to help people moving up in the ranks. If the individual is a current employee, they might even be able to slip in a good word with your interviewer.
Using LinkedIn is a great way to find these people. By simply searching for the company, you can filter for individuals who attended your university or held positions you are interested in pursuing at the company. Filtering by the university is one of the best ways to find an interviewee. That common university connection oftentimes makes the individual more willing to help.
Remember to ask thoughtful questions about this person’s responsibilities and daily work experience, including what they like most and what they like least about the job or company altogether. Also, consider asking personal questions like how they got into the field or any advice they wish they had had when they started. All around, informational interviews are a great way to learn about the job while also understanding the company culture.
Prepare a Mock Interview
Conducting a mock interview with a friend or family member is a great way to prepare you for your interview. You can’t predict every question that the interviewer might ask, but you can prepare your answers to commonly used interview questions. If you’re a nervous interviewer or dislike public speaking, this is a great way to calm your nerves and alleviate anxiety.
Start by writing out your answers and sharing them out loud. This will help you refine your answers and work out kinks and word choices. You’ll also be able to get feedback from your mock interviewer and repeating your interview answers will help with confidence. However, make sure not to memorize your answers like a script. You don’t want to sound like a robot!
Some of the most commonly used interview questions to consider include why you want to work at the company, why you are interested in the position, and what are your greatest strengths or weaknesses. Having researched the company and its culture, you should be well prepared to answer why you want to work at the company.
You’ll also want to consider your skills and how those fit into the position. For example, maybe the company uses a product you are passionate about. Think about your previous experience and how this role might accelerate your job goals. They might also ask you to talk about yourself. In this case, you’ll want to talk about your strengths and why that might be applicable to the role. Don’t merely list hobbies and things you enjoy doing!
Another key aspect of an interview is the question portion. This is a way to show the employer that you’re thoughtful and have thoroughly researched the position. Think about putting the interviewer on the spot. Perhaps ask them about their experiences such as what they like or dislike about working at the company or what types of characteristics they look for in their employees. Be proactive and prepare questions beforehand, so that you’re ready when you walk in on interview day.
Check Your Resume and Digital Presence
With free time on your hands, it’s a great time to check, edit, and reframe your resume. You might find that some descriptions or listed positions are outdated or unnecessary for the job you are applying for. Keep in mind that your resume should only be one page, so you’ll want to use active words to describe your experience. Don’t list sales numbers or the stories you’ve written, write enthusiastically about your experience and overall contribution.
You might also consider taking the time to create a website using companies like WordPress or Squarespace. This is a great way to showcase your projects whether you’re a designer, writer, or videographer. And, you can easily link these websites to your resume or job application.
Also, take the time to clean up your social media profiles, be it Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Many companies will likely research you before an interview, so take down any embarrassing party photos or scandalous tweets, among other things. You don’t want to start off the interview with a bad first impression, be it a virtual one.
With these six tips, you should be well prepared for your next interview. So, sit down, relax, and take the time to prepare now so that you’re ready come interview day.
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