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Interview Tips

You have spent the past few weeks applying for roles, getting your name out there, waiting for that call to come. When it finally does, now you have to nail the interview.

Interviews are problematic because they mix your knowledge, confidence, and ability to articulate to your audience, and we all know that this can be a tall order for some. For example, having enough knowledge to explain the solutions to problems well but having the confidence to deliver it clearly and concisely can be difficult. In addition, many technical people are introverted, meaning that they may have difficulty in social situations or lack the confidence that some more outgoing people may have.

With all that said, there are things we can do to prepare.

Brush up on foundations: There is no real way to know what may be asked; however, looking at the job description will give you a general idea of what may be asked; armed with this information, you can make an effort to go over and refresh some of that knowledge, so it is in the front of your mind for the interview.

Research the company: It is good to understand the business you are interviewing with; knowing how they deliver value will help when answering questions. You can relate your answer to some of their products, issues and common threats that they may face.

Rest is paramount: Before interview day, you need to ensure that you are well-rested; that way, your mind is fresh and ready to tackle whatever is thrown your way, ensuring you get solid sleep will work in your favour.

Hydrate, but not too much: While you should be hydrating all the time, before the interview, you must keep yourself hydrated to fend off any headaches and help keep your body temperature in check. Comfort is everything. With that in mind, do not drink too much; otherwise, you will be uncomfortable. 

Two ears, one mouth: You must listen to the interviews to fully understand what is being asked and to help engage in a more fruitful conversation with them, and you do not want to show them you have bad listening skills. It helps to listen more and talk less.

Talk more: a bit of a contradiction to the last point; however, it is good to talk more in the right situations, such as giving a more holistic answer to a question. This can help you flex your knowledge.

Ego is the enemy: Cultural fit. They will be looking for it. Coming across as arrogant, condescending, or overall poorly will negatively affect the interview no matter how well you did technically.

Slow down: When we are in high-pressure situations, and the adrenaline is pumping, we talk faster and create more stress, listen, pause, and engage. Take a moment to understand what is being asked before rushing into the question.

Bring examples: When you answer the interviewers’ questions, sometimes it is worth using examples to help explain your answer or relate it to a real-world situation.

Fix up, Look sharp: Ensure you look presentable and sharp, first impressions and all that, but don’t overdo it. An example could be that wearing too much cologne or perfume could put the interviewers in a coughing fit. Be presentable.

Arrive early, or be ready early: Now most interviews are remote, it is good practice to ensure that everything is prepared before the interview, camera check, mic check. Additionally, if it is in person, turn up early so you can find your way and come across as punctual for your first impression.

Passion: When talking in the interview, be sure to show passion and bring some energy, maybe not too much, but just enough.

Two-way street: an interview is a two-way street; you are also there to gauge if they are a fit for you, so ask questions around the company culture, what they enjoy about working there and make sure you are getting your questions in too.

Finish with confidence: Once the interview draws close, ask what the next steps are. If you can communicate with the hiring manager directly, send a follow-up email thanking them for their time.

Bring pen and paper: Some interviews I have been to have required me to work out a problematic scenario related to the role, and it is good to bring a pen and paper to help you develop a solution and note down important details. This can help with the more analytical roles requiring calculations or multiple routes to an answer.

While this is an excellent little list for you to take on board, another essential step is to get mock interviews, many communities offer this service, and indeed, mentors can help in this area. Discord has different servers dedicated to cyber security, so it is worth asking in there if anyone knows where to get a mock interview. Join the CyberMentorDoJo discord for an excellent place to start.

I wish you the best of luck in your interviews, and don’t forget to sign up to CyberMentorDoJo

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. With so many interviews conducted remotely, where body language is much harder to read, I’d like to offer additional thoughts specifically for those:

    – Treat the interview as if you are meeting in person, so dress accordingly. You will approach the interview more seriously wearing your interview outfit (including shoes!)
    – If possible find a quiet place, ideally behind a closed door. By isolating yourself, you will be focused on the interview, and hopefully not distracted by pets, family, or anyone else.
    – Make sure people around you know not to disturb or interrupt. If you cannot find a quite place, make sure that the people around you know the importance of your interview, so they will act accordingly.
    – Test your technology before. Choppy audio, frozen video make a poor impression. If you suspect that there will be issues, start with video on, and tell the interviewer that you may need to turn off the video if the quality becomes an issue.
    – Make sure your virtual background does not distract the interviewer. Animated backgrounds are cool, but will distract from the star of this show, meaning you. Similarly, if your clothing blends into the background because of the colors, the interviewer will become distracted every time you move.
    – Close any app that alerts you to incoming messages. The interview is your only focus. Just as you would turn off your phone when in-person, you should do the same for a remote interview. Unless of course you are using your phone for for the video conference, and so should set it to DND
    – Connect with the conferencing app about 2 minutes before the scheduled time. If you connect much earlier, you may interrupt the interviewer in a different call. Hopefully, they have organized their time properly, but best not to be seen as “crashing” into their room

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