Interviewing for the First Time (In Years)

Feeling a bit rusty when it comes to Interviewing?  Days of the 3-piece-suit and hard-sided briefcase filled with 10 crisp copies of your resume are gone.  Today’s interviews are a whole lot different from those of even five years ago.  Many people are now finding themselves scrambling to freshen up their interview skills due to sudden job loss in a Covid-19 economy.


What hasn’t changed in the job interview world, however, is the need for preparation!  Still as important today as ever, is your knowledge of the company.  It’s even easier to find the inside scoop about an organization, its market reach and revenues so you know perhaps more about them than they do about you.  Take 15 minutes — do a google search, check out their website, leadership, and products; visit their social media pages; look at employee feedback, earnings, and press releases.    Become familiar with the latest challenges the company is facing and bring to the interview your insight and solutions. Show how you can contribute on day one.   Use this company knowledge to formulate interesting questions targeted to the specific interviewer(s) you will face.  Your interest and motivation will shine through.


And for Pete’s sake, master the virtual meeting landscape.  Chances are at least one of your interviews these days will be online.  Nothing is worse than an interviewer seeing a candidate’s lips moving without hearing the thoughtful solutions you put forth.  Precious time is lost fumbling with the mic, adjusting screen settings, and making the virtual connection.  Practice the virtual technology beforehand, literally, with a friend or family member, before the big day.  ‘Arrive’ early to the online interview and wait patiently – your host will see you once they are ready to join.

Ensure they see you in the frame!  In months of online sessions, it is unimaginable what chaotic scenes I’ve seen behind colleagues, clients, and friends.  Remove the dirty dishes from the countertop behind you, put the kids’ toys away, make your bed – make your virtual interview space calm and inviting.   If possible, position your screen in front of a neutral wall in a well-lit space free of distractions.  No interviewer wants to take a chance on a candidate who, while otherwise well-qualified with loads of experience, has not made the leap to become comfortable using the technology of 2020.

Why You

The purpose of a job interview has not changed over the years.  The interviewer wants to know why they should hire you.  Yes, they may have a better understanding of your experience because your resume matched on keywords they had identified as critical.  Yes, they know you are basically qualified because their applicant tracking system screened out 247 others who didn’t make the cut.  It is still up to you to sell yourself and convince the powers that be that you are the best candidate to hire.  Be ready to explain how your experience prepared you for this role.  Come with examples of problems you’ve solved and challenges you’ve overcome, and interactions with colleagues which demonstrate your leadership potential, empathy, and team player attitude.  Avoid repeating verbiage from your resume.  Stories personalized as only you could author are what will set you apart from the competition. This, too, is not a new player on the interviewing stage.

Boost Your Power

Interviewing can be stressful.  Nothing new there.  However, that stress can empower or diminish your ability to project your best self.   One empowering thing that you can do is work on your confidence.  Practice stating your strengths, sharing your stories in a concise and compelling manner, using open effective body language (Smile!) and pausing comfortably to collect your thought before blurting out an unpolished response.  Learn the Power Pose stance (like Wonder Woman) and do this for two minutes privately before the interview starts.  The hormonal changes in your brain and body will give you a sudden boost of confidence to carry you through those first few awkward moments and into a meaningful exchange.

So, there you have it. Get back on the bike. While some things have changed in today’s interviewing landscape, a lot has not.  Go confidently forward.  You got this!