Many of you have probably experienced going through a long interview process, only to get rejected in the end. Maybe it was because you lacked a certain skillset, maybe someone else was more skilled, or maybe, just maybe it had something to do with how you handled the interview. If you feel like that has been the case for you, or want some insight into what works and what does not when it comes to job interviews, then I hope to provide a bit of information that could help you. We at Payne Search have interviewed many hundreds of candidates, and in this article, I will provide a few tips on acing a job interview. You may know some of these things already, you may even know all of them, but give it a read and you may just end up being surprised regardless!
The skills are the bare minimum
If you are applying for a job as a backend developer, then, of course, the necessary programming skills are important. However, most of the candidates invited for the first interview will already have the skill requirements covered. The skills are, in other words, the bare minimum. What you should be focusing on in the interview, is confidently showcasing the required skills however possible, much like with the age-old advice when it comes to writing; show it, don’t tell it.
What you can do, is bring your previous work, your portfolio, with you. If you have done high-end development work, show the code! If you have designed websites, show the websites! A surprising number of people forget this and simply state their skills, but it is vital to connect it to actual work. Do not just say you have programming experience, elaborate on your programming experience, showcase the awesome program you developed! Talk about some of the challenges you have faced in your work and how you overcame them. Talk about some of the biggest achievements, and say it with pride and passion. The interview is not about you listing off your skillset one by one, your CV already did that for you.
A little knowledge goes a long way
Another surprising thing that many candidates seem to forget before an interview is to do their research on the company and the position they are interviewing for. If this seems like common sense to you, then you have had an advantage in interviews you probably did not even know about. Too many candidates show up at an interview only half prepared, in that they only know their own qualities and how to relay them, and have not done any research on the company and position they are interviewing for.
While it is true that many interviews go both ways, where both the employer and the candidate tell a little bit about themselves and ask questions, you should never assume it to be so. Doing your research does three very crucial things; First, it allows you to avoid asking questions about the company that you should know the answers to, ensuring you do not make a fool of yourself. Second, it allows you to ask specific questions that you could not find the answers to on their company website, showing your interest and curiosity. Third, it allows you to answer questions precisely and correctly when they ask what you can do for the company, which brings us to the next part.
Know which problems you can help solve
Many candidates are focused on what the job can offer them – what the salary is, which benefits are on offer, how their life will change if they land the job etc. These are all sensible things to think about, but what is certainly more important at the interview itself is to think like the employer – what are they getting? Yes, they are getting your skillset, but we have already covered that. Instead, you can use the research you did on the company to figure out the specific challenges they are facing and give your take on what could be done to help.
If you are interviewing as a UX developer or designer, you may have noticed that the company in question has a confusing layout when it comes to their menus, that their website is a little on the slow side or any number of other things. This is where you can come with suggestions on how you could solve these things for them, showing your enthusiasm for the position. You have not been hired yet, and you have already started working. Chances are that they already know about whichever problems or challenges they have, and perhaps your suggestions have even been attempted, but that is alright, do not let it deter you. As long as you do not come across arrogant, then lecturing them about their many faults (“suggestions for improvements”), then the interviewers are sure to appreciate that you took the time to assess what challenges they are facing and how said challenges can be attacked. This brings me to the final part of the article.
A fitting personality
This part can be tricky. While it may take a few interviews for employers to know whether they should hire you, more often they can decide you are not the right fit within the first five minutes of meeting you. As the saying goes, first impressions matter. I can certainly testify, that first impressions truly matter! A personality match is something that both candidates and employers are interested in, as a bad fit does not suit either, and while it is easy to rattle off a list of personality traits that will help you, many of them are contradictory. This is quite simply because we all value different traits in others. One thing Payne Search can offer our candidates is that we will know the personality of the interviewer and can prepare our candidates accordingly. We also find candidates that we feel will best fit our client’s culture too.
Because of this, the best advice we can give our candidates is to learn how to read people and situations. See how they are responding to what you say, and adapt accordingly. Some employers value confidence above all else, others prefer candidates with a humble approach. Again, this is where having done the research on a company is helpful, as it can provide clues to what kind of person the employer is looking for. Two personality traits we can say are always welcome, regardless of the position in question, are passion and enthusiasm. You should never have to fake passion and enthusiasm, and if you find yourself doing so, then you should reflect on whether the position really is something you are looking for.
At Payne Search, we do not just match the right candidates with the right clients, we also coach our candidates, ensuring that they do as well as possible for the interviews, and give them helpful feedback no matter the outcome. I hope this article has been helpful, and wish you the best of luck!