by Leah Gordon
A job seeker recently confessed to me that she was in a bit of a panic. It had been more than a decade since her last formal interview and she was nervous about the upcoming meetings, her Q&A skills, and how things had changed since her last job-seeking rounds.
Many people haven’t interviewed for a few years and may find that their skills are rusty. If this is your situation, you can gain confidence through solid preparation and by understanding what’s new in the interview.
Some interviewing basics are ever-green: dress professionally, be punctual (early is even better), bring multiple copies of your resume, silence your phone, and follow-up with a thank you. But, here are a few ways that the process has changed in recent years:
1. Ways to Prep. Understanding the prospective company has always been important but now, thanks to the Internet, background research is easier than ever. A good recruiter will help you understand a lot about the company, but do your own research too. Your knowledge can help differentiate you from those who don’t bother to do their homework.
Learn about the company you are interviewing with, their executive team, and the professional backgrounds of the people you will be meeting. Popular tools include: LinkedIn, Glassdoor; Google News, healthcare publications like Crain’s or Beckers; annual reports; you can also explore news on conferences, webinars, or events a company attends, or associations they are prominently involved with. Along with formal news, read blog posts or recently published material from any of the key employees so you will understand their interests and perspectives.
2. Master a Behavioral Interview. Companies increasingly use behavioral interviewing questions to understand not only what you’ve done, but your style of doing it. Along with having solid examples of your accomplishments, be prepared to discuss how you approach the job and its associated responsibilities. Prepare concrete examples of how your prior experiences and responses apply to the responsibilities of this prospective job. For example, if you are applying for a job that has responsibility for Vendor Oversight, how have you managed that in the past? What strategies and tactics did you use to achieve improved relationships and performance?
3. Test and Showcase Skills. A conversation may not be all that is expected in an interview. You may be asked to take an online-skills and/or personality assessment to help determine how well your skills and work style (team interaction, leadership style, etc.) fit within their organization. One of the more important things that you can do when taking such assessments is to allow sufficient, uninterrupted time. Don’t rush through the test or take it when you are distracted. Don’t try to second-guess or “game” the questions; focus and answer honestly.
We find that companies increasingly request sample work or projects during the process, especially for executive positions. Depending on role, you may be asked to give a formal presentation, produce lines of code, or create or comment on a marketing strategy. If you have samples of a previous work product that you can freely share, take it along to help showcase your work.
4. Meet You Where? Instead of a live meeting, you may first have a virtual face-to-face meeting via Skype or other video call. If you haven’t worked with visual technology before, make sure you have the optimal audio and visual background and connections, like the tips noted in this Forbes article.
Your face-to-face encounters may be in a private office, a conference room, an open building space, a coffee shop, or even a formal dinner. Remain flexible and simply maintain professional standards regardless of where the interview takes place.
5. Interview Rounds. An interview with the Human Resources department, followed by a job offer has become a thing of the past for most roles, especially management positions. Many companies have adopted a more inclusive and thorough process, so anticipate that today’s interviewing process can be longer than you found in prior years.
In addition to human resources and the hiring manager, be prepared to meet with other organizational leaders (beyond your prospective department), prospective peers, and the team of people you would supervise. Each round helps the company to understand you better, not just your technical skills, but whether you are a ‘cultural’ match for the organization in work style and values. Obviously you want to make a good impression, but it’s important that you can see yourself working in this organization too.
If you are getting ready for an interview now, congratulations. Oh, and that job-seeker from beginning of this article? She nailed the interview and is getting ready to start her new job!
Leah Gordon is a Marketing, Social Media and Recruiting Specialist with HealthSearch Group.