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Tips for finding a job during COVID-19: Acing the interview

March 8, 2021 katiegibbas

Tips for finding a job during COVID-19: Acing the interview

March 8, 2021 Katie Gibas

Looking for advice on getting an interview? be sure to check out part 1 of this series, here.

Now, that you’ve made it through the hardest part of the job search and landed the interview, it’s time to make sure you shine. 

Acing the interview:

  • Prepare ahead of time
  • Learn about the company and position for which you’re applying
  • Practice STAR method
  • Look up practice questions
  • Practice your interview 
  • Send a thank you email within 12 hours
  • Send a hand-written thank you note

Do your homework! Learn as much as you can about the company by checking out its website and social media pages. Take notes about things that interest you and have specific examples of what you like about the organization. As a hiring manager, few things frustrated me more than when people couldn’t tell me what they liked about our company or why they wanted to work there. 

Interviews can be tough, so look up sample interview questions and practice the STAR method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. 

“Think about three to four situations throughout your career that are examples of what you’ve done. Use this STAR method to format your answers to questions because so many times people tend to forget the most important part which is the result,” Lewis says.

Practice your interview with a friend or family member to gain confidence. For virtual interviews, make sure to test technology ahead of time, and before you begin, ask the person interviewing you if they can see and hear you. 

Interviews should be a two-way street

Try to keep in mind that interviews should go both ways, this will help you feel more confident and less nervous.

“You’re interviewing the hiring manager as much as they’re interviewing you. You want to make sure the company is a good fit. The culture is a good fit. The day-to-day is a good fit. You want to make sure you come out of that interview knowing all of those things, so you can make the best decision for yourself,” says Lauren Lewis, a partner at StaffBuffalo,  a local staffing and recruiting firm. . 

A little bit of nerves can be helpful, but be yourself.

“Be confident and let your personality show. Then it becomes more of a conversation,” Lewis says.

In keeping in line with the two-way street, make sure you have questions prepared. 

A few of the questions I asked:

  • What is the culture like?
  • What do you think success would like in this position?
  • What resources are available to help someone in this position succeed?
  • What advice do you have for someone stepping into this role?
  • What keeps you here at this company and in this position?
  • What were some challenges you faced moving into this role/company and how did you address them?

After the interview, ALWAYS follow up

“Hand-written thank you notes are so great . It really sets you apart. But the USPS is so much slower these days, and that hand-written thank you not might not get to someone in a timely manner, so I’d hate to see that discount a candidate from getting a job,” Lewis says. “Definitely send a thank you email within 12 hours of your interview, and then send the hand-written note on top of it.”

I also like to talk to a cross-section of current employees and former employees, so I can get a better idea of how the company operates and treats its staff. If something feels off at any point during this process, trust your gut. It can be scary turning down a job, especially if you are unemployed during these uncertain times, but remember, if it’s not the right fit, you won’t be at your best personally or professionally.

If you’re still struggling to land that perfect job, use this time to broaden your skills by taking a free online course. There are several platforms including Coursera and open.edu that have options to help in your next phase of your career.

You may also consider volunteering with a non-profit, which can be a great way to bridge employment gapsand add valuable skills to your resume. 

I tried to keep busy while unemployed and took a few online courses, produced videos for a local non-profit’s website and social media, and even put together a couple vlogs in English and Spanish to highlight my language abilities. I made sure to highlight those on my website portfolio and social media platforms.

“If you can show that you’re trying to develop yourself personally and professionally during the time you were unemployed, during your job search, can really help you stand out to hiring managers,” Lewis says. Plus, “those news skills can make you more competitive and marketable for so many other positions down the line.”

While you continue to work toward landing that dream job, try to stay positive and build the skills to get you where you want to be.

“Stick to your guns and don’t settle. Make sure it’s something you’re excited about,” says Lewis.

Katie Gibas
Katie Gibas

Katie spent 12 years as a journalist, including hosting a monthly national Healthy Living show. You can usually find Katie and her husband traveling, skiing, and scuba diving. Of course, Katie is a huge Bills fan, even naming her dog Chug Flutie.

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