Looking for a job can be a daunting experience. Interviewing for your chosen role can be nerve-wracking and anxiety inducing, but mastering your interview skills can pay off in a big way when you land your dream job. Today, we’re talking about interviewing – how you should prepare, present yourself, and follow-up. These tips are a sure-fire way to put your best foot forward when you’re looking for your next job opportunity.
Before the Interview
Studies show that 46% of candidates fail a job interview because they didn’t have enough information about the company they applied to. Doing your research does not require talent, it just requires you to sit down and do the work.
Do Your Homework – Company Website
First, and perhaps most importantly, research the website of the company you’re interested in. Their website is the best place to start to find out what the company’s values, mission statement, or goals are and determine whether the position and company are a match for you. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do they perform the work I want to be doing?
- Does this look like a company I can grow in?
- Do we share the same values?
Asking yourself these questions helps you understand what you’re looking for in a company and encourage you to narrow down which positions are worth putting in the time to pursue.
Doing your research on the company also gives you the chance to prepare some questions that you can ask at the end of your interview, which we will elaborate on later. Find a project or company value that interests you and be sure to bring it up when asked why you chose to apply. It will show that you know about the company and, more importantly, that you understand what is important to you as a future employee. There needs to be a culture fit on both sides, and this is one great way to show that you know it is already a match on your end.
“I chose to apply to your company because I really connected with your Perlo Practices, specifically #3 – Everyone empties the trash. I want to work for a company that treats everyone equally and promotes employees to help each other, no matter their title. I also loved your recent project with Columbia Distributing. The high-end finishes caught my eye, and I can see myself working on a project such as that.”
Do Your Homework – Job Boards
Job boards such as Glassdoor and Indeed can be great resources when preparing for an interview. When researching your potential company, these job boards can show you employee reviews, average salaries, and even questions that employees were asked during their interview, which can help you to better understand what to expect in yours.
YouTube can also be a great place to find interview tips, how to negotiate your salary, and other resources.
Do Your Homework – LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the perfect place to connect with professionals in the industry. By going to the page of the company you’re interested in, you can find current employees that work in the department you are aiming for or even those that work in the same role you are pursuing. LinkedIn provides a platform to connect with these individuals and is something you should review before going in for your interview.
However, you want to make sure that you are not reaching out to someone with the intent of getting a referral or reference. Doing so can come off as greedy and ingenuine. Instead, connect with an employee by sending them a personal connection request message. Look on their LinkedIn page to see their past experiences, volunteer work, or recent posts, and use that information in your message to show your genuine interest in them as a professional.
“Good afternoon Mr. Duwe, I hope you’ve had a great week so far. I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you have over 10 years of experience as a Project Manager. I am extremely interested in this career path and would love to learn more about what you do. I look forward to connecting with you!” (Remember to be mindful of the character limit on connection requests and remain concise.)
In Perlo’s recent Podcast Episode: Careers in Construction Management, Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction, remarks “if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that people really like to talk about what they do and how they do it. There is no better compliment than asking somebody about their job.”
Proactively connecting with professionals in your chosen career will not only give off a great impression and promote future networking connections, but it may just inspire that individual to talk to their colleagues (which may include the hiring manager/recruiter) about what a great interaction they had with you, thereby giving you a great reputation before you even step foot in your interview.
LinkedIn is also a great place to do extra research on your company. You can find information such as:
- Newsworthy events
- Recent projects
- Company milestones
- Industry-related topics
Do Your Homework – Job Description
Companies give you a job description for a reason. They aren’t just letting you know what to expect in the role, they’re letting you know what they expect from you in this role. While this may sound intimidating, you can use it to your advantage. Look for key words in the job description like specific hard and soft skills, including:
Attention to Detail
These key words provide insight into the most important skills the company is looking for and allow you to find out how/if your experience and skillset can benefit the company. Use these keywords to narrow in on your own experiences and incorporate them in your interview when answering questions.
Dress for Success
For your interview, you’ll want to dress for success! According to various studies, 71% of employers wouldn’t hire someone who doesn’t follow the appropriate dress code. Your goal should include being the best dressed in the room. That doesn’t mean going overboard with flashy accessories, it means keeping it simple. Be clean and wrinkle-free. If you aren’t sure what the dress code is or what employees in the office typically wear, don’t be afraid to ask! This is a great opportunity to show the company that you care about making a good impression.
Always bring printed copies of your resume in a sleek folder or padfolio with a pen and notepad handy. You’ll want to bring enough for the number of people interviewing you, plus a few extras. If possible, you can also purchase high-quality resume paper at any of your local office supply stores. The more prepared you are, the more control you have over the interview.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Chances are, if you google “interview questions”, you’ll get hundreds of results. Pick a few generic ones and a few that are more specific to the position you are applying for. If you were able to find potential interview questions from job boards like Glassdoor, use those, as well. Practicing in front of a mirror is a great way to emulate speaking to someone else while catching opportunities to improve on your delivery.
It’s okay to prepare answers to interview questions in advance, as long as you ensure your delivery doesn’t sound too rehearsed. You don’t want to sound like you’ve memorized an answer word for word, your goal is just to know what you’re talking about and deliver it effectively. Stay conversational, respectful, and don’t forget to incorporate the key words we touched on earlier. Additionally, don’t lie or give a long-winded answer. Sometimes, it’s okay to say you’ve never done something before but that you look forward to learning.
When preparing your interview answers, a great option is to use the STAR Method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This method of answering questions is best used when asked to provide real-life examples of how you handled a certain situation in the past. Examples include, “tell me about a time when…” or “give me an example of…”. Your answer can be broken down into the following format:
Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.
Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
Share what outcomes your actions achieved.
Using this method allows you to provide concrete proof to the company that you can handle tough situations and demonstrate how you successfully handled them.
At the end of your interview, you’ll most likely be asked if you have any questions. Use your earlier company research and deep dive on the job description to prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Questions you may ask include:
- What challenges can I expect in this position?
- What are some of the day-to-day duties?
- What does success look like in this position?
However, it is not unheard of that the interviewer may have already answered your questions throughout the interview process. If this is the case, it is most beneficial to express that all your questions have been answered and do a quick recap of what those were.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many jobs to be remote, we are seeing an increase in virtual interviews. When preparing for a virtual interview, it’s important to adhere to the following:
- Find a quiet place you can take the interview without being disturbed.
- Make sure you have a clean background with good lighting on your face.
- Although the interviewer will only see the top half of you, you should still be dressed for success.
- Check your internet connection.
- Keep a notebook on hand so that you aren’t typing throughout the interview.
- Keep some notes handy, but don’t rely on a cheat sheet.
During the Interview
It’s normal to be nervous when entering an interview, but don’t let that get in the way of all your hard work while preparing! Start off strong and remember that people will make a first impression within seven seconds. Focusing on your body language – such as maintaining eye contact, confidence, and a good volume level (especially when wearing a mask) – is the best way to connect with your interviewer and have an engaging interview. Approximately 39% of candidates are rejected due to overall confidence level, voice quality, or lack of smile.
You will most likely be asked for an “elevator pitch”, which may be concealed in a question such as “tell me about yourself”. The idea of an “elevator pitch” is to give a sales pitch about your professional experiences in a short enough period that you could quickly tell it to someone while on an elevator ride. In this case, try to keep it short and sweet while focusing on your professional achievements and goals without getting too personal or oversharing.
Answer the questions you’re asked to the best of your ability. Try to convey your drive, motivation, and how badly you want the position. Always expect the unexpected, as some companies are known to ask you to tell them a joke just to throw you off.
As the interview nears to a close, prepare to ask the questions you’ve planned. If you think of the process as “selling yourself”, you’ll want to end with a question that seals the deal. Emma Fazio, Communications Coordinator at Perlo Construction, shares with us her go-to question:
“I always have a question that helps me close the deal when I’m interviewing. At the end of the interview, I finish by asking the following: ‘Was there anything I said during this interview that would cause you to think I would not be qualified for this position?’ The interviewer may not be able to answer your question, but if they do bring something up, it gives you the perfect opportunity to elaborate on your story, turn any weaknesses into a positive experience, and change their opinion. If they answer with ‘no’, they’ll start realizing that there’s no reason they shouldn’t hire you. It’s a win-win!”
After the Interview
You’ve now gotten past the interview, but that doesn’t mean your work is over. If you haven’t already connected with your interviewer on LinkedIn, this is the time to do so. It is crucial to follow up after an interview to show your gratitude and keep your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Following up relates back to the importance of networking. Even if you don’t get the specific position you were pursuing, you may stand out enough to be considered for a different role or a future opening.
Finally, don’t give up. Interviewing can be a stressful experience. Give yourself some credit, a pat on the back, and use what you’ve learned to improve for your next interview. Looking for a career in construction? Perlo is hiring! Visit our Careers page to apply.