Applying for jobs can feel like a job in itself: from writing resumes and cover letters to preparing for that ever so nerve-wracking interview and the drag of anticipation for that rejec- I mean, acceptance email.
But, it’s all a part of the learning curve of adulting.
Congrats, you got the interview! Now what?
There’s no rush like a new message in your inbox with an invitation from your future employer. But once the thrill settles and I realize how soon my interview date is—my introverted nerves kick in.
As a way to curb that, I approach every job interview as a learning opportunity to practice my pitch, build my confidence, and gain takeaways for my next interview (because this one’s not the be-all or end-all!). That being said, do take it seriously.
As someone who’s experienced both landing and bombing the job interview (I’m currently employed if that’s any consolation), here are some pointers for you to keep in mind when you make your next professional first impression.
Do your research
Know the job description of your role inside out. Don’t just skim the homepage of the organization. Research the values of your employer and how they align with your own—keep this in your back pocket so your interviewer knows you’ve done your homework AND that you care. Always try to connect your skills and personal experiences to the responsibilities of the position you’ve applied to.
Practice your STARR statements
This approach really comes in handy when formulating your interview responses:
Situation: Think of a scenario where you faced a challenge...
Task: What were your responsibilities in this scenario?
Action: How did you tackle or approach the challenge?
Result: What was the outcome of your approach?
Reflection: What did you learn and how will you apply it in the job you’re applying for?
Remember, these experiences aren’t limited to professional contexts—you can talk about your volunteer work, a class project, or any obstacles you’ve tackled.
Since a lot of interview questions will be behaviour-and-situation–based (“Tell us about a time when…”), these statements act as bite-sized stories that showcase your problem-solving abilities, leadership potential, and more of your qualifications.
Refine your netiquette
We’re millennials. We’re tech-savvy and practically live online, but do we really know how to navigate that digital space professionally?
Here are some tips to consider before your interview (and even into your employment):
Do some social-media spring cleaning. What comes up when you Google your name? Do you have public photos online that may, ahem, paint you in an unprofessional light?
Mind your language when communicating with professionals—especially over emails. Always proofread, be clear and concise, and maybe get rid of that ‘Sent from my iPhone’ signature. Find out how to start mastering the art of email writing.
Create an online portfolio. Whether it’s a LinkedIn profile or blog, a web platform can include much more than your paper resume—and pulling relevant pages up during an interview can make you stand out. These mediums can showcase your unique technical skills, passions, and experiences beyond the workplace. Plus, with more and more recruiters scouting online, you never know, maybe they’ll be the ones reaching out to you.
After the interview
Shake off those nerves—you did it! Don’t dwell on the should haves and what ifs.
Send a follow-up email
Thank your interviewer for their time with a personalized email. Mention specific aspects of your meeting, reiterate how you can contribute to the organization, and, if it was addressed, attach a copy of your references.
Don’t get hung up on rejection
Not hearing back can be rough. It can feel like an “It’s not you, it’s me” moment, but there’s some truth in that. It’s not about you as a person, but you in that particular position. Plus, employers are often selecting from a very competitive pool of strong candidates—be proud that you made it to that pool.
Recognize, too, that you can be your own worst critic. If you find that you’re comparing yourself to other people or your own standard of where you should be, here’s a reminder: your value is not defined by a job title.