It is 2021, and you are in the job hunt, either because you are unemployed or looking for a better gig.
One thing for sure is employers are hiring but they are being more cautious, and the hiring process is taking longer.
This is why you need to need to understand the hot interviewing trends to be successful in landing your next position.
While the hiring process might be painfully slow, you still must shine in the interview, and this means every stage of the process.
Advice from 5 Job Interview Experts
Here’s some good news: I asked 5 interview authorities to weigh in on what to expect.
They tell you what to do before the interview, what to do during the interview, and what to do after the interview.
Do not rely on traditional methods to get the interview. Show your value.
Austin Belcak has a unique view on how to get to interviews with blue chip companies. He has helped hundreds of people, whether they have worked with him directly or gleaned vital information by following him on LinkedIn.
These are Austin’s thoughts:
Do not let unemployment numbers fool you. We are currently experiencing one of the most competitive job markets in history.
Relying on resumes, cover letters, and online applications is not going to be enough now.
If you want to land interviews at high caliber companies, you need to focus on two things:
- Building relationships with the people who can influence the hiring decision
After you press submit on your application, fire up LinkedIn and use it to find your potential hiring manager or colleagues on the hiring team. Reach out to them, show them you understand their needs/goals, and find ways to illustrate your value in relation to those things.
- Find ways to illustrate your value on your terms How many times have you said, “I know I can do this job, but nobody will give me a chance!”If people are not recognizing your value, you need to find ways to clarify it for them. One of my favorite strategies for this is putting together a Value Validation Project (VVP).
Value Validation Project (VVP)
Value Validation Projects are deliverables that illustrate your ability to do the job by providing suggestions, ideas, or feedback to the team’s biggest needs or goals.
- If you are targeting a marketing role, you could do a quick competitive analysis, and then package that data with 3 suggestions to help the company get more visibility.
- If you are aiming for a data analyst role, you could work to find a source of publicly available data that you can use to parse and tell a story. Check out this example of an analyst who used Twitter data to capture consumer sentiment about different airlines.
VVPs are highly effective because they give you the opportunity to say, “I have done my research, and I know what your goals are. Here is exactly what I bring to the table.”
You are also doing that in your own words, via a medium you are comfortable with, that offers a lot more flexibility in terms of visuals, data, and content.
That is going to set you apart!
Research is becoming even more important now.
Sarah Johnston, a career coach and former recruiter, is a strong believer in doing research before going to the interview. All too often job seekers fail to research the position, company, and even the individuals conducting the interview.
According to Sarah, you must know the employer’s pain points. Here is what she has to say:
The average corporate role gets 250 online applications (Source). And that is rising at a staggering rate thanks to automation and the Internet. Of those candidates, only 5 to 6 will get called in to interview.
The best way to beat the competition is through preparation. You must have a good understanding of your target audience, what they care about, and their pain points before you interview.
When you are researching your target audience (the company and the individuals who interview you), it is smart to look at the corporate website for press releases, mission, and diversity statements.
As companies are becoming more mission centric, I am seeing an uptick in interview questions focused around values and the importance of inclusive cultures.
It is also important to interview the people who are going to interview you. Take the time to look at their LinkedIn pages to read more about their training, experience, and for common ground.
If you have time, do a search on your favorite search engine for podcasts they’ve been on or news articles that reference their work. I suggest identifying 3 to 5 connection points that you can use to make small talk during the informal part of the interview.
Finally, one of the best — and surprisingly most overlooked — ways to research and prepare for the interview is to look for pain points or “clues” in the job description.
Read between the lines to better understand the culture, reporting structure, and the actual job requirements. Consider that every bullet point in the job requirement section could be turned into an interview question.
For example, let’s say that the job description reads:
“Identify, initiate, and drive process improvement solutions that will ultimately provide operating efficiencies and synergies within the supply chain, resulting in cost reduction and increasing service level to customers.”
This could be turned into a behavioral question in the interview:
“Tell me about a time that you identified and drove a large process improvement solution in a previous role that led to an increased operating efficiency. Tell me about the solution and the results of the implementation.”
Be prepared with your answer to this question.
It is not only about job-related skills. It is also about personality.
Biron Clark is a former technical recruiter and is now a career coach and trainer. He foresees more emphasis being placed on hiring for motivation and fit. Expect more questions that will get to the heart of your drive and personality fit.
I expect that employers will be interested in learning about your personality and motivation just as much as your technical background.
The average person is spending less time in each role when compared to past decades, so employers are conscious of hiring people who are not only qualified but also excited about the day-to-day work and the general work that the company is doing.
This helps them reduce turnover and find long-term matches for their company.
To prepare for this, make sure you’re ready to answer questions like, “What about this role caught your interest?” or, “Why did you apply for this position?”
They may also ask, “What do you know about us?”
These questions are a chance to show you’ve done more research than other candidates. A bad answer here can derail your interview, but a great, detailed answer can set you apart and help you win the job… even if someone else was better-qualified.
Other questions to be ready for:
- What are you passionate about?
- What motivates you?
- Where do you see yourself in 2-3 years?
- What are your long-term career goals?
- What would you be doing if money weren’t a concern?
The bottom line is:
Employers do not want to just hire someone who is capable of the work. They want to hire someone who is motivated and excited to do the work.
My prediction is that you are going to see more employers trying to learn about you as a person and asking about what motivates you, what interests you, what you actually want to be doing in your life and career. And if you cannot explain this, you may miss some great job opportunities.
One more area to be ready for: Behavioral questions. Employers want to know how you think and how you’ll react to situations. Be ready to answer questions like:
- “Tell me about a time when you failed and how you tried to correct it. What did you learn?“
- “How do you make decisions? Can you give an example of a tough decision you’ve made?”
Do I want to work here?
Susan P. Joyce, publisher of JobHunt.Org and career strategist, shares her concern about finding the right work environment. And how do you do this? By asking questions during the interview. Our 4th interview expert feels this is an important piece of the puzzle.
Here’s what Susan has to say:
A job interview is frequently viewed as your opportunity to “close the sale” – convince the employer to make you a job offer. And it is. But, the job interview is also your opportunity to learn if the job is a good fit for you.
I made a big mistake early in my career by not paying attention in the job interview. I was more interested in leaving my old job and not paying sufficient attention to where I was going next. So, until my first day of work, I did not notice that only male employees had window offices while the women all worked in cubicles. OOPS! I stayed less than a year.
When you interview at the employer’s location, observe the whole environment and the employees there.
- Do people look happy or stressed?
- Is the location noisy or quiet?
- Do you see others of your gender and/or race there, and do they seem comfortable?
- Does this place look and feel comfortable to you?
You will be asked if you have any questions for the interviewers. Leverage this golden opportunity to learn more about whether you would be happy working there. Ask questions like these:
- How long have you worked here?
- What is the best part of working there?
- Why is this job open?
- Did the previous employee leave or get promoted? If the job is new, what brought about the need to create the position?
Be cautious if everyone has worked there less than a year, this job is filled frequently, or they struggle to say something nice about the organization.
Note: If you feel the opportunity is right, ask if you can take a tour of the company. This is when you can observe the employees to get a picture of their mood. Any good employer will gladly give you a tour of their company.
It isn’t over until it’s over.
Ashley Watkins is an executive resume writer. As a former recruiter, she has a unique view from the other side of the table.
Ashley offers sage advice on what to do after the interview, which can be as important as before and during the process.
At the close of the interview, most recruiters and hiring managers will give detailed instructions about the next steps. But if the timeline isn’t offered, ask the interviewer when and how you should follow up (email, phone, or not at all).
If you are scheduled to hear back in a week but get crickets, wait until that time has come and passed before you reach out to check your status.
Do not stop at the timeline.
Take it a step further, and use this as an opportunity to refresh the interviewer’s memory about why you are such a great catch. Share a few short success bullets that align with the goals of your target role.
Also, do not be afraid to reattach your resume or LinkedIn URL. Make it easy for your interviewer to review your work history and accomplishments again versus sending them on a wild goose chase in the company’s database.
Always ask for feedback.
Although many companies have strict policies about what information interviewers can release, you may encounter a recruiter who is willing to share some tips — or you may discover an upcoming role that is a better fit. Then, you can quickly express your interest in the opportunity.
Build a relationship.
Another way to further your interaction with your target company and build a mutually beneficial relationship with a recruiter is to make a referral.
If you know a friend or colleague who would be a great fit for a different job, offer to make the introduction. Now, you have established yourself as a resource.
Not knowing where you stand after an interview can be frustrating. Understanding the hiring process for your desired position can relieve some pressure.
Take the time after an interview to reflect on things you learned, areas for improvement, and any red flags.
Sometimes rejection can be a blessing in disguise. Keep pushing until you land that right-fit role.
Wrapping it up
As you can see, the interview doesn’t only consist of the meeting between interviewers and you. There is a before, middle, and end. Make sure you have all the bases covered. If you accomplish this, you will be successful now.
Take it from the experts:
- The interview process is longer these days, and involves more work to prove you are the one to earn an interview.
- Research, research, and conduct more research.
- Interviewers want to know more about you than just your job-related skills.
- Try to learn about the company during the interview.
- There’s still work to do after the interview ends and can be as important as the actual interview.
More Expert Advice and Hot Trends:
More About Job Interviews:
- Finding Your Greatest Strength
- Smart Answers to Interview Questions
- Smart Answers to Behavioral Interview Questions
- The Second Interview: 5 Key Questions to Ask
- Guide to Successful Interviews
About the author…
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career and LinkedIn trainer who leads more than 17 job search workshops at an urban career center. He also critiques LinkedIn profiles and conducts mock interviews. His greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Selected by LinkedIn as one of 10 “Top Voices for Job Search and Careers,” follow Bob on LinkedIn. Visit his blog at ThingsCareerRelated.com. Follow Bob on Twitter: @bob_mcintosh_1, and connect with him on LinkedIn.
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