by Mike Daly

The global coronavirus pandemic has spared very little in its deadly wake—not only have we lost over half a million US citizens to the lethal virus, but industries and jobs across America have also decimated. As a result, many folks find themselves doing something they may not have had to do in years or even decades: prepare for an interview.

Interviewing at any age or experience level can be daunting. Fortunately, applying some tried and true preparation methods can go a long way to building confidence and increasing your chances for a job offer, regardless of your desired industry or occupation. When preparing for an interview, keep in mind the following: be ready to speak intelligently on the company and industry; demonstrate what you bring to the table; brainstorm possible interview questions and themes; and finally, make sure your appearance and presentation is the best version of yourself, especially in this new frontier of digital interviewing.

An immediate turnoff for interviewers is a candidate who does not appear to have done any detailed research into the interviewer’s company. These days, there is ample information available online about mostly all companies. Thus, there is no excuse as to why a diligent interviewee would not be well-versed in its purpose and accomplishments. One easy-to-follow tip for this category is to avoid asking the interviewer any questions that a simple google search or visit could answer to its website. For those interviewing in the legal profession, go the extra step and look up dockets and interesting legal opinions attached to cases for which the firm is counsel.

Once you feel expert in the target company and industry, jot down a list of the things you have accomplished in your career to date. The interviewer will want to hear about specific accomplishments that maybe do not appear on your resume or have been condensed into mere bullet points. The idea here is to find ways to translate your own experiences and victories to the target position’s demands and goals. There will undoubtedly be competition for the position, so be prepared to discuss how your lived expertise makes you the perfect fit for the company’s needs. Stay humble, but be an advocate for yourself.

While jotting down your accomplishments, do some brainstorming and create a list of potential questions that the interviewer may ask. While it’s unlikely you’ll anticipate all the questions that may come your way, this exercise will get your brain working and should allow you to come up with some versatile responses or themes that can apply to many different areas of inquiry. One fascinating question you should prepare for: identify one point in your professional career where you have had to respond to a very difficult or unique circumstance, and discuss how you overcame the hurdle and turned it into a positive. After you are finished brainstorming possible questions that may be asked of you, think of three to five questions that you will want to ask the interviewer at the end of the meeting. This will speak volumes about both your preparation skills and level of interest in the position.

Finally, be sure to present the best version of yourself. Don’t allow the pandemic-induced work-from-home comforts to seep into your interview attire; professional attire is still the key to impressing regardless of whether you are interviewing in a company’s conference room or virtually in your own home. If you do find yourself in a videoconference interview, keep in mind your surroundings. Try your very best to be in a room without ambient noise and too much clutter in the background. Virtual background settings on videoconference applications like Zoom can be very helpful. Most of all, allow your personality to shine through. Interviewers are interested in the person they will be working with for years to come, so be yourself and demonstrate who you are as both a professional and a person. Keep those tips in mind, and you will be well on your way to a successful interview!