Must-Know Job Interview Tips for 2018 and Beyond
“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” “Make eye contact.” “Practice a firm handshake.”
When it comes to job interview advice, it often seems there’s nothing new under the sun. But although the classic advice will never go out of style, trends are constantly changing -- and whether they stem from new technology or generational norms, they’re undoubtedly influencing the interview process across the board.
Hopeful hires are picking up on that. If a cornerstone interview is looming on your calendar, you may be wondering: “Are resume objectives ‘over’?” “What sort of background should I choose for my video interview?” “Does a physical thank-you note look too desperate?”
Never fear: We talked to career coaches, branding experts and human resources professionals about the newest job interview musts for 2018. Here’s what you should know before you go.
Cut out overused resume buzzwords.
In January, LinkedIn released its annual list of the top 10 most overused “buzzwords” from the past year and -- surprise -- they’re all terms you’d be smart to avoid on your resume. By their very nature, buzzwords are often used as vague replacements for more specific, actionable language. Let’s just say if you’re describing yourself as a skilled, experienced leader who’s motivated and passionate about specialized creative strategies and focused leadership, you should start from scratch.
“When everyone is using the same words, they lose meaning,” says Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success.
Wendi Weiner, president-elect of the National Resume Writers’ Association, says another resume fail is the word “responsible” or “responsibility.” “That’s like the death note of a resume,” she says.
Instead, focus on powerful action verbs that point out concrete details -- describe exactly what you’ve accomplished and how you did it. Opt for five or six results-focused bullet points per job that denote projects you led, deals you procured, transactions you worked on or performance metrics.
The same advice applies to your LinkedIn profile, which is arguably just as important as a resume. Having a profile on the professional networking site became vital around 2015 or 2016, Weiner says.
Ditch resume objectives in favor of soft skills or a professional summary.
The top third of your resume is prime real estate, so it’s important to think critically about what deserves that spot. If you’ve got a list of “old-school” objectives at the top, consider replacing them with something more modern. “Objectives are tired,” says Mikaela Kiner, founder and CEO of consulting firm uniquelyHR.
One option for top billing: “soft skills” such as collaboration, managing managers, high EQ (emotional intelligence) and more. In fact, almost six in 10 recruiters and hiring managers said soft skills assessments are one of the most useful interviewing innovations, according to a 2018 LinkedIn report.
Another option for the top third of your resume: Start with a professional summary, essentially a “road map to your career path,” Weiner says. It allows hiring managers to get a sense of who you are right off the bat, akin to reading the back of a book before deciding to buy it.
Watch yourself in the waiting room.
A job interview starts the moment you walk into the building, and it’s important to keep that in mind when you’re checking in with the receptionist, riding in the elevator or waiting in the lobby. Avoid being on your phone if you can, Schawbel says. It’ll set you apart from other interviewees this year. Instead, take in your surroundings, make conversation with the other people in the room or look at handwritten notes.
Something else to keep in mind: Be kind, as in any case, to absolutely everyone. You never know if the person answering phones in the reception area is one of the people you’ll soon be sitting across from in the interview.
Practice a fresh answer to the age-old “weakness” question.
“What are your weaknesses?” It’s a classic interview query that’s instilled its fair share of anxiety in employee hopefuls. What’s new here is the answer you should give. There are a host of overused, eye-roll-inducing responses -- “I’m a perfectionist,” “I work too hard” -- but in this case, honesty -- albeit a positive, confident kind of honesty -- really is the best policy. Talk about a weakness that you’ve taken concrete steps to improve, and focus more on what you’ve done to better yourself. Your answer should be a testament to your ability to communicate your flaws and turn them into something positive.
Position yourself as someone capable of handling tough situations and improving beyond them, Schawbel says.
Take a personality quiz.
Companies are becoming more and more interested in personality types as they relate to the workplace, says Nellie Morris, co-founder of Purpose Generation, a millennial insights and strategy firm. Take a few minutes to go through one of the more popular assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator, and see where you fall (you can take a free version here). Think about how your results point to the types of workplaces you thrive in or how well you work with teams. Morris says she now sees personality type brought up relatively often in job interviews for industries including management consulting and banking.
Practice interviewing via video chat.
Video interviews have become commonplace over the past few years -- in 2018, hiring managers may opt to schedule a video interview due to a remote candidate, a company executive working out of a different office or even to simplify scheduling. It’s important to dress the part even though you’re not entering the office, maintain eye contact just as you would in person and stay completely present. Some video interviews aren’t live and instead request that candidates answer pre-recorded questions that will later be sent to the hiring manager. In this case, it’s important to “practice your pitch and poise out loud to prepare yourself” beforehand, says Jenn DeWall, a Denver-based career coach for millennials. You can even use a friend as a stand-in to practice via Skype or FaceTime.
Plan out your thank-you note.
Should you send your thank-you note via email, a physical card or both? The answer isn’t black and white even in 2018. Experts say an email thank-you note is definitely a must, and we check our email many more times a day than snail mail.
“It gets there faster, and you want to convey interest quickly,” says April Klimkiewicz, owner of career guidance service Bliss Evolution. But you also take the company culture -- and the person interviewing you -- into account. If it’s a more traditional company, or your interviewer displays personal pictures and inspirational quotes in their office, you could consider going the extra mile with a handwritten thank-you note.
And if you’re worried a handwritten thank-you note would come across as strange or overbearing, think again, suggests new research published in Psychological Science. In the experiments, people who wrote letters of gratitude overestimated how awkward recipients would feel and underestimated the positive impact of the note.
“If everyone’s sending an email and you send a physical note," Schawbel says, "you’ll stand out."