Opening your inbox to see that email letting you know you just landed an interview is a great feeling. But the hours leading up to your actual interview can be stressful.
What should you wear? What if you say the wrong thing? How can you guarantee you make a good first impression? What if your cat jumps in front of the screen?
Those are all things to consider!
And while I can’t promise to make the interview process painless, what I can do is show you how we’ve helped top talent land jobs at some of the world’s most innovative companies.
Hint: they don’t wing it or just hope for good luck.
Instead, they follow this simple checklist below.
You landed the interview. Great news!
When a client reaches out and lets you know that they’d like to schedule an interview with you, do your best to respond with your availability within 24-hours. This lets them know that you received the email and that you’re still interested in the position.
During the application process, I always recommend including a calendar link so that they can easily schedule interviews whenever it’s convenient for them. But if you didn’t include a link, respond with at least three different available time slots in the client’s time zone.
Last-minute changes can happen to all of us. If you need to reschedule or cancel your interview, you need to send a message to your client as soon as possible. If you don’t show up to your scheduled interview, it could cost you this opportunity.
Once you get your interview scheduled, here’s how to make sure you’re ready for the big day.
How to Prep for Your Interview
Dress for the role.
Do some research beforehand so that you know how formal you are expected to dress. Even if the interview is with a casual startup, always make it a point to dress one level up from how you would expect them to dress.
Fix your shot.
Most interviews take place on Zoom or Google Hangout. The camera angles may change depending on your platform so make sure your room and background are interview-ready. (Hint: the simpler your background, the better.) Make sure your environment is well lit, that your entire face is clearly visible, and that the background noise is kept to a minimum.
Have your device ready.
Only use a desktop or laptop for your video interview–no mobile phones. Make sure your computer is on a firm surface and that you aren’t balancing anything on your lap. Check your internet connection and make sure you can handle the call. And of course, the camera on - always.
Know who you’re talking to.
Take time to learn about the individual(s) who will be on the call with you. This is an easy way to make a good first impression. It will also give you an edge if you’re able to reference their role, location, or tailor your answers to better fit their own experience and skill-sets.
Research the company.
Before you start the actual interview, make sure you have a good understanding of their products and services, customers, business model, and high-level goals. This doesn’t just help you give better answers, it also speaks to your own work ethic and the amount of effort you put into this interview before it started.
Learn about the company culture and history.
Most companies will have social media accounts and blogs that demonstrate what they care about, including their values. Read this to learn more about the tone and personality of the company. Remember, your client isn’t just looking for skill-sets–they’re evaluating whether or not you’re a good fit for the team and the company.
Research the role you’re interviewing for.
Don’t just be familiar with the job description. Make it a point to learn everything there is to know about the role you’re interviewing for. This includes expected outcomes, the recent history of the role, and anybody who might have held that position in the past.
Be ready to talk about your skills.
The Braintrust platform makes it easy to list the skills you’re proficient in. During your interview, make it a point to talk about how you applied those skills in previous projects and what they resulted in. Did you save the company time? Money? Or help them accelerate innovation? Let them know! It’s not just what you've done, but the impact you’ve had.
Be ready to answer all the basics.
Every interviewer has a list of basic questions they rely on. Questions like, why do you want to work with us? What interests you most about this role? Can you tell us about yourself? Be ready and make sure your responses aren’t longer than three minutes.
Finally, prepare at least 3 questions to ask the client.
This is your chance to interview the client. It’s also your chance to show them that you care about the project. To do that, ask them thoughtful questions about the role or project. Make sure one of the questions is “big picture” so that you can demonstrate that you care about their mission, not just the role you applied for.
Now that you’re prepped, here’s how to nail the interview.
- Be early.
Show up to your interview a few minutes early. Don’t make your clients wait for you to show up, even if it’s right on time. This will also give you a chance to adjust your camera, check the audio, and fix anything else that might be a distraction.
- Speak clearly.
Do your best to present a relaxed professional image. Maintain eye contact during the interview process. Speak calmly, clearly, and with energy. Remember that enthusiasm is infectious, so if you seem upbeat when you talk about this project, your interviewer will likely share your enthusiasm.
- Stay focused.
Resist the urge to pitch ideas or projects that aren’t related to your role. You can talk about ideas at a high level to show your enthusiasm and the way you think but don’t go too far and make them feel like you’re upselling them. Stay focused on the role in front of you.
Phew. You just nailed your interview...but you’re not done yet!
Once the interview is over, send a thank you note to the individual or team that interviewed you. This may not impact the client’s hiring decision, but it’s a great way to show class and professionalism.
A simple message thanking them for their time and a quick summary restating your interest in the opportunity goes a long way.
Interviews can be stressful. The next time you land one, take a minute to celebrate. Then review this checklist, take a deep breath, and go into your interview with confidence.
You got this!
If this article was helpful, be sure to check out my Top 10 Interview Tips for Freelancers.
Interested in joining the Braintrust Talent Network?
At Braintrust, we help connect top tech talent with job opportunities at world-leading enterprises like Nike, Porsche, and NASA. Click here to learn more and apply to join our growing talent network today!