Interviews can be nerve-wracking, whether you’re sitting across from a hiring manager in an office or speaking to them on a video call from the comfort of your couch.
But interviews are an important part of the hiring process: These conversations give you a chance to show off the skills in your resume and learn more about an organization to help you determine whether an opportunity is the right fit for you.
“Remember, an interview isn’t an exam, it should be a conversation,” Google’s Global Head of Recruiting Brendan Castle tells CNBC Make It.
A successful job interview starts with preparation: researching the organization, practicing your responses to possible questions and planning how to follow up with the interviewer after your conversation.
Consider these three interview strategies from Castle that can help you stand out and land your dream job:
Acknowledge your nerves
It might feel counterintuitive at first to tell an interviewer that you’re nervous, but Castle notes that acknowledging your nerves can help calm you down and organize your thoughts during difficult parts of the conversation.
“We understand that you’re a human,” he says. “It’s okay to be yourself and own your feelings.”
If you’re really struggling during an interview, Castle suggests taking a deep breath and politely asking your interviewer for a brief pause.
“For example, you can tell them: ‘I’m a bit nervous. Can I take a moment before responding?’” he says. “We actually quite respect statements like that because it shows how much you care about this opportunity, and that the interview means a lot to you. … It’s perfectly okay to show that.”
Ask questions throughout the interview
Candidates should feel empowered to ask questions about the position or company throughout the interview, not just at the end. “You’re also assessing these companies for the next step in your career,” Castle says.
Castle suggests asking these three questions to help you gauge an organization’s priorities and show that you would be a highly engaged employee:
- How would you define success for the person in this role?
- When you think about your own career and transition to this company, what did you learn about yourself on that journey?
- What is it about the company that keeps you motivated and excited to go to work every day?
Don’t badmouth your previous employer
It’s important to focus on the opportunities you’re running toward during an interview instead of the experiences you’re running away from.
Castle warns against complaining about the companies you’ve worked at in a “really negative tone.” Instead, he recommends you tell a recruiter what qualities you’re looking for in your next role.
“Complaining about a previous employer might be my biggest ‘don’t’ during an interview,” he adds. “We don’t know what happens in other organizations, but we really want to understand: ‘Why us?’ versus ‘Why not another company?’”
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