Young professional preparing to ace their next job interview
Work & Money

6 Strategies to Ace Your Next Job Interview

Our latest guest article is by ICS Learn — a leading UK-based learning provider. 

The fact that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic means that job interviews have naturally gone digital. As a result, the strategies that we were previously accustomed to using, pre-corona, will need to adapt too.

Here are six of the best strategies to use when it comes to acing your next job interview.

Keep your CV and job description close at hand

In a conventional job interview, you’re normally not allowed access to your CV or the job description – you’re expected to just know the facts off by heart. In theory, that’s great, but in practice, it can add a lot of unnecessary stress to a job interview. Luckily, the pandemic, and the widespread adoption of remote interviews, gives us the chance to turn that convention on its head.

Unless you’ve got the memory of a supercomputer, there will probably be some parts of your job interview prep that you’ll forget — whether it’s the answers to possible questions you’ve come up with ahead of time, or the exact dates of when you left your second job, six years ago.

In the heat of the moment, you might forget one of the essential traits that the employer is looking for in a role, too. In a physical interview, you might just put that down to luck but when it comes to a remote interview you can actively prevent something like this from happening.

Unless the employer has specifically requested you don’t, there’s no reason why you can’t just print off a copy of your CV, job description and any notes you’ve made about the position and have them nearby, off-camera, as memory prompts. You shouldn’t rely too much on them, but they can be useful safeguards that guide you through the call. 

Consider structuring your replies to questions

If you’ve been researching job interview strategies for a while, you’re probably sick to death of hearing about the STAR method.

It isn’t just some recruitment buzzword though — it does work and it can make it significantly easier to come up with answers to difficult questions in job interviews. You do have to devote some time to it ahead of the interview itself for it to give you the results you want though.

If you haven’t encountered it before, STAR is an acronym. It stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. It’s essentially a framework that you can use to plan an answer to a question in a job interview.

Here’s how it works:

  • Situation: Describe the context/background to the situation
  • Task: What did you need to do – what were you responsible for?
  • Action: Detail the specific things that you did to resolve the situation
  • Result: What was the result of the actions that you took?

Keeping the STAR method in mind you can better structure your answers when taken a little off guard. 

Consider your setting and possible distractions

When you’re taking part in a remote interview from home, you’ll have to take into account a whole host of external factors that could derail your performance that you don’t normally need to think about in physical interviews.

If you don’t consider all the possible distractions, you might find they ultimately end up impacting the impression and/or the performance that you give.

Your setting

Think carefully about where you’re going to take the call — especially if it’s over video — because this can affect the impression you give your interviewers, as well as your focus.

Choose somewhere that’s quiet and that has stable lighting throughout the day, not in direct sunlight. Too much light can cause annoying glare for the people on the other end of your interview.

Be mindful of the things behind you that might be appearing on camera too. If you’ve got any embarrassing photos or posters, now might be the time to take them down temporarily. It might also be a good idea to move your laundry to another room.

Possible distractions

Anticipating possible distractions, and taking measures to mitigate them can be useful when trying to minimise risks in a remote job interview, especially when working from home.

A hungry cat or a teething toddler might be pretty adorable on the call and a good talking point, but they can prove a distraction and cause you to lose your focus — and that can impact your performance overall. If you can (COVID-19 restrictions allowing), arrange for a family member or friend to look after any children or pets you have for the duration of the interview.

Or, if you can’t, explain to the interviewers ahead of time that you have children or pets that might interrupt the call at some point so that they know ahead of time.

Follow up after the interview

Half of the battle of a job interview is getting the interviewer panel to remember you for the right reasons. Following up after the interview — usually by sending a thank you email — is a good way to remind the interviewers that you’re interested in the role and that you’re polite and conscientious too.

You may think it looks a little desperate, but follow-ups are a good way to position yourself front and centre in the minds of the interview panel when they’re assessing candidates.

If you plan on doing this, make sure that you ask the interviewer about their interview timeline before you email them — you don’t want to send an email a few hours after the interview has ended and look too intense.

By finding out the timescale they’re working to, you can plan your follow-up email to arrive a few days after the interview, leaving you free of looking pushy.

Do your research

You’ll hear this phrase time and time again when it comes to planning a strategy for a job interview, but it does pay dividends if you get it right. Knowledge is power, after all.

For any type of job interview — whether it’s physical or remote — you’ll find that the more information you gather about the company you’re applying to, the job itself and your skills and experience, the easier you’ll find it to answer questions that are thrown at you.

Some of the key things to research ahead of the interview itself include:

  • What the company does
  • Their ethos and aims
  • Their USP (unique selling points — essentially, what makes them special)
  • The essential and desirable criteria of the job you’re applying for — and how you meet those points
  • Industry news
  • Relevant interview questions that you might be asked

Research is key to acing your job interview so never come unprepared. 

Do a test run ahead of time

Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare for an interview, there will be things that go wrong when technology plays a role. A good way to protect against the risk of a catastrophic technology fail is to do a test run ahead of time.

Usually, employers will send out the details of the video platform that they’ll be using for the interview before it takes place — this gives you a chance to familiarise yourself with it. 

A couple of days before the interview, open the platform and try doing a test call, so you can sort out your microphone and camera, and check that everything is connected okay.

Be sure to run any updates that your computer, or the video conferencing platform you’re using needs before the call itself. These can take a few hours at worst, and could potentially block your access to the interview if the computer decides to update during the interview. 

We hope you’ve got some inspiration from reading about these strategies and techniques that give you the confidence to ace your job interview.

About the Author: Christopher Fear is a writer at ICS Learn, the UK’s leading provider of HR and L&D professional qualifications.

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