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10 Tips for Cracking the Interview in 2021 and Beyond



Cracking the interview has always been a challenge, but recent events have made it even more difficult. Zoom interviews, non-traditional interview settings, and personal stressors on both the interviewer and candidate are all presenting unique hurdles to overcome. Whether you’re trying to crack a PM interview, preparing for a cybersecurity position, or taking a Python coding test, use these 10 tips to show you have the skills to crack your interview in 2021 and beyond.

The top 10 tips for your next interview are:

  • Test the software beforehand

  • Restart your equipment

  • Check your lighting and angle

  • Turn off notifications

  • Look at the camera (not yourself)

  • Learn the company, the job, and your own resume

  • Dress for the interview

  • Keep a pen and paper handy

  • Have a hard-copy of your resume

  • Always end on a positive note


1. Test the software beforehand

Zoom. Microsoft Teams. Skype for Business. Different companies, and even separate teams within a single company, are using different platforms to not only communicate with each other but with candidates as well. Find out what software you’ll be using to interview ahead of time. This way you can install it, create an account (if necessary), and do a test run with a friend before the interview. 


2. Restart your equipment

All computers freeze, show errors and slow down (yes, even Macs). Usually, this is caused by programs and services running in the background for extended periods of time. The longer your device is running, the more these apps add up and unnecessarily use your device's resources. Though employers may be understanding of some slight technical difficulties, the more you can prevent the better. 

Restart your device, no matter what device it is, at least an hour before the interview to ensure it runs as smoothly as possible.



3. Check your lighting and angle

Presentation matters. It’s the reason you know to smile, mind your body language, and dress right for the occasion. When getting ready for a video interview, there’s even more under your control that you should be aware of. Try to place the camera at, or slightly above, eye level. 

A stack of books under a laptop often takes care of this. Make sure light is facing you rather than behind you. Avoid having open windows behind you and place a small desk lap just behind your monitor to light yourself properly.


4. Turn off notifications

Just as you would turn off your phone before stepping into an interview, you need to prevent interruptions during your virtual one. Close any programs you don’t actively need running. Turn off notifications on your computer. Set your device to “do not disturb” if you can. Do everything you can to prevent a ding or a chime from distracting from the interview. 


5. Look at the camera (not yourself)

During the interview, you’ll instinctively want to look at the screen. We naturally want to look at people and you’ll feel the urge to watch the interviewer, or yourself, on the screen. Remember, they’ll be doing the same, and the best way to make virtual eye contact with them is to look directly at your camera. 

A great way to help yourself focus is to tape a small picture of a person to your monitor as close to the camera as possible. 



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6. Learn the company, the job, and your own resume

This is true regardless of whether your interview is in-person, over the phone, or on video. One of the fastest ways a job candidate can disqualify themselves is by not being prepared. Companies take pride in what they’re doing. They expect that, if you applied for the job, you’re familiar with what it entails. 

And, above all else, you should know what you’ve done in the past. To crack your interview, be sure all of this is second-nature to you.


7. Dress for the interview

This may mean formal business attire, but that’s not always the case. It may be business casual or even completely open. When first scheduling your interview ask for a copy of the dress code, or at least a description. Be sure to dress at least as professionally as it describes. It is ok to err on the side of being too formal. If the dress code is completely casual, at least wear a basic button-up shirt or semi-professional blouse.

While many of us are a bit more casually dressed while working from home, your interview is an exception to the case. 


8. Keep a pen and paper handy

You may think you’ll be able to take notes in a separate window during the interview. It’s best to avoid this. Running additional programs makes it more likely you’ll experience glitches, errors, or other technical difficulties. Additionally, there’s always the possibility of an accidental tab change or screen share that can ruin the flow of your thought process. 

Avoid all this, using your device only for the interview, by taking handwritten notes. 



9. Have a hard-copy of your resume

Just as in the previous point, you want to avoid any situation that could interfere with the interview. Use your device only to video chat with the hiring manager, not to reference your resume. Print a copy before-hand and have it available in front of you so you can refer to it, remember experiences to expand on, and be able to direct your interviewer where they should look.


10. Always end on a positive note

Final impressions can often be just as important as the first one. How you end the interview will likely determine how the interviewer feels about you after it’s done. Be prepared for final questions like “Do you have any more questions for us?” or “Is there anything else we should know about you?” Having an optimistic response, or a question that leaves them with a positive perception of you, ensures their lasting opinion of you is a good one. 



Conclusion:

Finding a job is often a job within itself. Cracking your interview in 2021 requires a unique set of skills and techniques in addition to those listed on your resume. This year has brought about new challenges, forcing most of us to Zoom interview from home, that can easily be overcome with the right knowledge and practice. Use these ten tips to crack your interview regardless of what obstacles are in your way. 



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About the Company:

Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has been Chicago's premier Information Technology (IT) staffing, consulting, and recruiting firm for over 22+ years. Named after Chicago's historic Peterson Avenue, PTP has built its reputation by developing lasting relationships, leading digital transformation, and inspiring technical innovation throughout Chicagoland.

Based in Park Ridge, IL, PTP's 250+ employees have a narrow focus on a single market (Chicago) and expertise in 4 innovative technical areas;

  • Cybersecurity

  • Artificial Intelligence

  • Data Science

  • Cloud & DevOps

PTP exists to ensure that all of our partners (clients and candidates alike) make the best hiring and career decisions.

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