Rusty interviewing skills?

Q:  I am applying for a new job.  The problem is I haven’t applied for a job in 22 years!  I am sick with anxiety.  What can I do to prepare?  Do I need to be a Zoom expert?

A:  Congrats on sharing your concerns!  You are not alone.  Here are some tips:

  • Research.  Research the company and research the opportunity.  Information is power.  You will want to be able to speak confidently about the company, the industry, competitors and the opportunity.  The more you know, the better.
  • Learn Zoom and Teams.  You don’t have to be an expert but you should be able to accept an invite and participate in a video call.  Treat this Zoom interview as seriously and thoughtfully as you would an in-person interview.  Make sure your background is appropriate and do your best to eliminate distractions, from door bells to barking dogs.  Test your Zoom or Teams skills with a friend, sibling or neighbor.
  • Practice your interviewing skills.  Practice with your spouse, your partner or your dog.  Practice some tough interview questions.  Be ready to provide tangible examples of your achievements.  The more metrics the better.

What do I mean by this?  Instead of “I am a people person,” consider: “I work well with customers who are really angry.  I am often able to effectively address their concern and offer a reasonable solution, like express mailing a replacement device to them.  I am a good listener and try to give them the opportunity to vent.  I can empathize.  I would be frustrated too.  I often receive the most disgruntled customers.  My retention rate with these customers is about 87%, one of the highest within ABC Company.”

  • Use social media and online resources to help you learn more about how candidates land jobs.  Social media (e.g., Linkedin, Twitter, etc.) has changed the world of recruiting.  This new expertise will also demonstrate how you have remained current.  Many candidates often visit sites like Glassdoor or Comparably.
  • Update your resume, if you haven’t already.
  • Lastly, be gracious and authentic.  Thank all those who meet with you or spend time with you.

Interviewing is a skill, just like swinging a baseball bat.  The first time, your swing will be choppy and uncomfortable.  As you practice, your swing will improve.  Interviewing is not that different than swinging a bat.  The more you practice, the more you improve your skills.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.

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