The average online job posting receives about 250 resumes with only 2-3% of people that apply for a job getting a job interview. The odds are heavily stacked against you, so when you do get a job interview you want to do the best you can. From the job interview about 20% of people will get a job offer, roughly 1 in 5. While this is a much better conversion rate, it’s still a fairly low percentage chance for any individual job. To help improve your chances of getting pass the initial interview, here are 10 tips for having a good interview:
1) Don’t talk bad about past employers
In the interview’s mind, whatever you are saying about your past employers are what you would say about them if they hired you and then you decided to leave the company. If you’re asked why you want to leave your current employer or something to that effect it’s best to keep it very high level and somewhat vague. Don’t gossip or badmouth anyone and keep it as short as you can.
2) Use the STAR methodology
If you struggle with describing a situation or storytelling when an interviewer asks you to “Describe a time when” or “give an example of when you”, then using the STAR methodology can help you organize your thoughts. STAR stands for situation, task, action and result and it’s basically a way you can organize your thoughts so that you give a clear picture of what was happening when you are trying to describe a past situation.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If all you’re doing is waiting for them to ask questions it can get very stressful and tiring. Every now and again I recommend you ask them some questions. There are two benefits to doing this, firstly you get a break from constantly answering questions. This way you don’t get drained and start losing focus. Secondly, if you better understand the question you can give better answers. For example, if they ask you if you are familiar with a certain software or programming language, instead of just answering right away you could say yes and then ask them how they use it in their company. Based on what they say, you can decide which one of your past experiences would be most applicable and talk about that.
4) Never just say no
If you ever get a question about your experience or knowledge and you don’t have any applicable experience, don’t just say no I don’t have that experience or no I’ve never done that. I’m not saying to lie but if possible, talk about a similar experience that you have or how you would get it done. The reason they are asking is because people can be confident that you can do something if you have done it before, but if you have a similar experience or a clear idea of how you would do it you can convince them that way.
5) Show rather than tell
If you have an online portfolio of any kind, bring that with you to the interview. You can bring your laptop, iPad or any mobile device with you to the interview and use that as proof in the interview. For example if they are asking you if you have experience performing a certain type of web application attack and you have a write up written on how to do it, rather than talking it out ask them if you can show them your previous work. If you can prove to them that you are capable, that’s always better than just giving them a convincing answer.
6) Research common cybersecurity questions
Many interviewers will ask you some of the basic cybersecurity interview questions to test your competency. If you do some research on cybersecurity interview questions you’ll be able to answer them if you are asked those questions. It gives the interviewer a lot more confidence that you have knowledge in the field.
7) Give them a chance to express their concerns
One of the things I like to do when ending an interview is ask them “Do you have any doubts about my qualifications for the position?” something to that effect. It’s a good way to address any issues they may have or re-answer any questions that you answered poorly. The interviewer may not always be honest with you or maybe they already decided not to offer you the position. But if you’re close, asking this type of question and addressing their concerns may push you over the edge.
8) Know your resume
You want to be familiar with everything that you list on your resume. If you get asked a question and it takes you a while to remember where you put that on your resume, it may come off to the interviewer that you lied on your resume. You don’t want them starting to doubt your credentials so it’s best to read over your resume and know what you put on it.
9) Don’t exclude unpaid work
Some people may assume that unpaid work isn’t considered “professional” and they may be hesitant to talk about it during an interview. My suggestion is to talk about all relevant experience, unpaid experience is still experience and to some people it may be impressive that you are willing to work without pay to get that experience in the first place. Especially if you’re applying for an inexperienced position I would definitely suggest talking about unpaid work.
10) Don’t take the results personally
Like most things, getting a job isn’t a perfect meritocracy. You can do almost everything right and still not get selected for all sorts of reasons. There’s racism, sexism, cultural bias, personal bias and frankly, someone might just have better connections for the job than you do. So try not to be discouraged and don’t take any rejection too personally.