NEWS + ADVICE
How to Ace Your Interviews
Our top 10 list of things you must do to excel in an interview.
1. Realize your interview starts with the first interaction you have with a potential employer
From your online profiles, resume, and networking interactions, including job fairs, you’re already being evaluated and opinions about you are being formed. Be prepared and professional for every interaction.
2. Prepare for your initial phone screen interview
This may be tough because a recruiter may call you out of the blue, but take this interview as seriously as an in-person interview with a hiring manager. If it’s an unscheduled call and you’re not prepared, reschedule. Be prepared to talk about salary, and ask at least one thoughtful question. This also means you need to prepare to interview long before you have one scheduled.
3. Research the company and the people you’ll be interviewing with
Most cyber security job seekers do not do this. When a recruiter calls to schedule your interview ask for the names of all the individuals you’ll be speaking to. Then research them online just as you do the company or the agency. You’re seeking details and commonalities to help you in the interview. The more you know about the company and the folks you’re interviewing with, the better you’ll perform in the interview.
4. Check all your networks, both online and offline, to see if you already have a contact at the company
Your goal is to uncover critical details about the position and department that are not on the job posting. That intel may make you a better candidate for the job, and gives you info to make a more informed decision about your level of interest.
5. Rehearse interviewing with a trusted colleague or friend
If you haven’t interviewed in awhile this is even more critical. You want your answers to be crisp and concise, to know if you have any distracting tics or habits, and to project a positive present attitude. You’ll have limited time with your interviewers and you want to make the most of your opportunity.
6. Dress appropriately
A job interview is not the time to show your fashion bent. Grooming is important as well. Looking your best shows the employer or agency that you take the interview seriously. If in doubt, ask your recruiter what is appropriate dress.
7. Be on time
Being late makes the interviewer question your dependability. They’re making judgments about you based on limited information, so this is important. If you’re late, call your contact. Apologize and let them know when you think you’ll arrive. When you do arrive address the issue head on and apologize again. Then move on. But don’t be too early either. Walk in 5-10 minutes before your appointment time.
8. Prepare your success stories
Develop and practice 5-7 success stories of relevant accomplishments from the past 5-10 years of your career. What was a situation you faced, what goal were you trying to achieve, what actions did you take to achieve your goal, and what were the results? If you have these polished stories in your back pocket, they’ll give you confidence and help you shine.
9. Ask questions
This trips up many job seekers. Even if you think everything has been covered, you must ask a couple questions that show you’ve done your homework. What’s a typical day like? What are your goals for the position over the next six months? What is the process to follow up? It’s fine to take a list of questions too.
10. Follow up
In the interview ask how you should follow up and when. Within 24 hours write a thank you (email is ok) to every person you interviewed with. Reconnect with your contacts at the company to let them know you interviewed and that you’re interested in the position if that’s the case. Let your recruiter know if you’re no longer interested in the position.
“A little small talk to break the ice with a recruiter or hiring manager is a smart interviewing strategy. It establishes a connection and helps you to be more memorable. Whether it’s a shared school, where you grew up, or the beauty of spring, don’t be afraid to be genuine.”– Grace Chao, Ridgeline International