Job interviews are always hard. We want to present our best but often feel nervous or intimidated. It’s ok. We have your back. Our team of specialists is here to help you prepare for this crucial part of every hiring process. Maybe answering questions face to face will never be entirely stressless, but it doesn’t have to be too difficult either. Marina Goes is our interview advisor and has helped over a thousand candidates for years. She listed some best practices for job interviews so you can make sure you perform your best and make a great first impression.
What to do before the job interview
Some 30 years ago, Marina was working as part of the recruiting team at the London Borough of Islington when she learned something true to this day. International companies are a lot more interested in knowing about the candidates’ experience than their qualifications. This means you don’t have to worry too much about where you went to school and what degrees you hold. Instead, you need to showcase your past work, how you solve problems and what kind of abilities you have.
To do that well, preparation is key. “You have to work on your profile and take the English verification test. Only after these two tasks are completed can you begin applying for jobs”, Marina says. Sure, recording videos in a foreign language is a daunting challenge but it’s a necessary first step. Marina explains that even if the candidate is not able to speak English well, the test is a good way of learning how far you need to improve that skill. And, of course, the VanHack team is here to help you get where you need to be.
If you already have an interview booked, make sure everything is ready. Before the appointed day, check your equipment and test your computer, internet connection, microphone, and headphones. Set a good spot for the conversation, it needs to be well lit, organized, and a place where you can talk undisturbed.
Do your homework. Research about the company and the interviewer beforehand. Think of what you would like to say and what you are probably going to be asked about. We suggest you have an “elevator pitch” about yourself prepared and use the STAR method to discuss your projects with the interviewer. The acronym stands for “Situation, Task, Action, and Result” and the technique is used to showcase abilities and accomplishments.
Here is a complete list of actions we suggest you take to prepare for a job interview:
- Prepare the environment: make sure your environment is well lighted, quiet, and neat.
- Prepare and test the equipment beforehand (computer, internet connection, headphones, meeting application, etc.): ask family or a friend to test it with you. Make sure to keep eye contact.
- Research the company’s site, about, and career pages: see about tech and soft skills requested, their values, and mission. Soft skills are usually mingled within the text – recognize and pick them. Also, go to Glassdoor, Google search, YouTube, LinkedIn (search for the profile and see the postings).
- Look for the interviewer’s profile and postings on LinkedIn: it’s always an advantage to know who you’ll be talking to during the interview.
- Prepare answers for the most common interview questions ahead correlating them with the tech and soft skills the company is requesting. Make your answers focused, concise, positive, and relevant. Show your achievements and the good results your work has provided to your employers.
- Learn how to use the elevator pitch to introduce yourself. See this video
- Learn how to use the STAR method to talk about projects. See this Google doc.
- Think carefully about the questions you intend to ask the interviewer – make them relevant to learn about the company/job.
- Once invited for a mock interview with the VanHack team, schedule it at least 24h before the actual interview with the company. Mock interviews are meant to guide you through the interviewing process in an international environment.
What to do during the job interview
You are prepared and start the interview with a positive attitude. Great! Now the most important thing to watch out for is what you don’t say with words. Body language and the way we dress tells a lot about us so remember to sit straight and keep eye contact with the interviewer. Since you prepared well, show enthusiasm and let your talent shine through.
Here is a complete list of how to best show yourself during an interview:
- Pay attention to your body language: sit straight showing head and shoulders, keep eye contact with the interviewer, smile, gesture moderately, be friendly.
- Pay attention to what you’re dressing: do it as if you were going to deliver a presentation to another team/company. Also, make sure hair/beard/mustache are well arranged.
- Be positive: you’ll be selling yourself during the interview.
- Show enthusiasm for the opportunity through moderate gesturing, facial expressions, use of adjectives, voice intonation.
What not to do during and after job interviews
We don’t even need to tell you not to show up late, right? Ok. During the interview, try not to ramble. Also keep your answers under two minutes.
Once the interview is over, don’t let your anxiety undermine your hard work. The number one thing Marina advises against is getting too eager to get good feedback that you end up “stalking” the interviewer or the company. It’s nice to send them a thank you email but do not demand information or ask questions about the hiring process. Trust your preparation and wait to be contacted by their HR department.
Here is a complete list of things you do not want to do during interviews:
- Don’t use much more than 2 minutes for your answers.
- Don’t ramble during your answers without adding relevant information.
- Don’t talk about negative aspects of your career, previous employers/colleagues.
- Don’t emphasize weaknesses. If asked about this, be honest, say briefly what your weakness is, and emphasize what you’re doing to overcome it.
- Don’t stalk the interviewer: it’s ok to look at their profile on LinkedIn but not keep sending constant messages. It’s also great to send a thank you email, but don’t demand anything (information about your performance in the recruiting process, why you didn’t get to the next step, etc.).
- Don’t be late for the interview/mock interview – make sure to join the meeting 1-2 minutes earlier.
We can help you prepare for job interviews
Marina Goes and everyone here at VanHack will help you perform your best during interviews and the entire hiring process. Make sure to take full advantage of all we can do for you.