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The Job Interview Guide | Part 3 | Pitch Preparation and the Interview Itself

Dana Leizarovits, HR Business Partner at Jolt.io
|
October 10, 2021

In the Job Interview Guide, you will find recommendations that will help you prepare for a job interview in general, and in the tech field in particular. In the previous guides, we talked about the Types of Job Interviews and How to Prepare for an Interview. In this final part of the guide, we will focus on preparing a pitch and on the interview itself.

The Pitch – Self-Presentation

The purpose of the pitch is to introduce yourself. Most often, you will not be asked specific questions right away – the interviewer would rather prefer to hear how you present yourself and what details you choose to share. This is an opportunity to present your achievements, relevant professional experience, people you worked with and what you can actually contribute as part of your next job.

Where do you start?

For starters, there are two rules that are important to keep in mind when you introduce yourself. First rule: self-presentation is professional and not personal. The purpose of self-presentation is not to tell about your personal life, but about professional experience.


Second rule: storytelling. As part of the self-presentation, it is important that you create closeness, arouse empathy, and present your story in a coherent, convincing and credible manner, so that it will be clear what happened before and after, how long you worked in each company and why you left.


How to build your self-presentation?

Snapshot 

You should provide a snapshot of your professional experience to date: where you have worked and how long, your titles and main areas of responsibility. In most cases, it is appropriate to talk about your entire work experience from the beginning of your career, but if you have an extensive experience, you may consider describing the first years briefly and elaborating more on your experience from recent years.

Accomplishments 

Upon presenting your work experience, point out your accomplishments in each workplace. The goal is not to turn each achievement into a separate story, but to mention the achievements and their impact on the workplace and on you as a “mini-story.”

Presenting your knowledge

Along with sharing your employment experience, you must show that you did your research and know what the job description includes. Avoid reciting the job description, but rather incorporate the requirements and job description into the story about your past. For example, if in the past you have built a certain project from scratch, and the job description mentions the ability to work independently and proactively, while being capable of establishing an infrastructure, this would be a good time to share your achievements and say that you are aware that these qualities and skills are required for the job you are seeking.

Suitability for the job

As mentioned, you need to show the interviewers that you are the most suitable candidate for the job. Sometimes, it will be clear to the interviewers from what you will tell about your achievements and professional experience, and sometimes, you should say aloud why you think you are the right person for the job. For example, you can say: “I think the job can suit me because at my previous workplace I have dealt with similar projects, and because the job requires independent and proactive approach, analytical thinking and creativity, and I believe I have these skills and can apply them in practice.”

In conclusion, remember – the purpose of self-presentation is to market yourself for a specific job. On one hand, you need to share most or all of your professional experience, and on the other hand, you have to do it coherently and narratively, share your accomplishments and create closeness by “feeling” the interviewer. Along with all of the above, you need to pay attention to the time and atmosphere: whether to elaborate on a particular work experience or specific project, or move on and tell about something else due to the lack of time.

It is highly recommended to practice! If you don’t practice your self-presentation, the pitch may sound cumbersome and unclear. Once you have built your pitch, you need to separate the wheat from the chaff and practice presenting yourself, while being aware of the time it takes. All of these will make you look professional in a real job interview.

Please note: although the pitch is your opportunity to present yourself without “interruption,” some interviewers may find it important to interrupt you and ask questions. Allow it to happen, do not talk too fast. If the interviewer asks you a question, go back to where you stopped. Overall, an uninterrupted self-presentation can last about two or three minutes, however, it can be longer should the interviewer interrupt you and ask questions.

Asking Questions

The matter of various questions was mentioned with regard to interviews with various interviewers in the context of common questions that may be asked by the recruiter. This time, we will focus on questions that you, as an interviewee, need to ask, as well as and their impact on the interview itself.

Why ask questions if I don’t really have anything to ask about?

Even if you got the answers to all your questions during the recruitment process or the interview itself, ask at least a question or two at the end of the interview. Two reasons why you should:

  1. The interviewer makes time to interview you. Whether it is a preliminary interview with the recruiter or an interview with the company founder, they dedicate time to you. You should use this time to learn more about the company, the job, and maybe even about the interviewer. In other words, you have been given time that you should take advantage of to show the interviewers that you acknowledge the time they made for you.
  2. When you ask questions, it allows the interviewer to learn a little more about you. Let the interviewers “take a peek” at the things you choose to point out, things that may be bothering you, principles that are important to you, and your desire to delve deeper. Note that when you ask questions, it is important to ask questions that will play out in your favor – keep in mind that at this stage, you are still being evaluated.


Question Examples

Examples of questions and an explanation of how they may be perceived (note that you should not ask questions that have already been answered in an interview):

  1. What does a regular day look like in this job? You want to learn about the nature of the job.
  2. How many team members are there and who will be managing me directly? It is important for you to understand your place in the organization and the team.
  3. What software will I work with? Your willingness to know the software relevant to the job in advance.
  4. Will I have to work in the office only? Is there a hybrid model that allows to work from home as well? This question has become more relevant since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, and it is certainly worth asking to understand if there’s any flexibility, as well as to become acquainted with organizational norms. It shows that your knowledge regarding hybrid models of high-tech companies is up-to-date.
  5. Who will I collaborate with during my daily tasks? It shows that you are aware of the possible necessity to collaborate with various teams engaged in different fields, which means that you have a clue how this type of work is conducted.
  6. Are you planning to expand into other global markets? It shows that you have researched and read about the company, and you are aware of its global aspects.
  7. Where do you see the company in three years from now? This question can be asked at any stage of the recruitment process, particularly at the stage of being interviewed by the company founders. It shows that you are interested in a long-term job and are curious about the future of the company and, implicitly, in your future in it.
  8. What goals have you set for the coming year that are important for you to achieve? It will allow you to show that you are interested in short-term goals and things on which you’d like to make an impact upon starting your job.
  9. How did you have the courage to start this company at a young age without experience and, probably, without significant resources? (This question is for founders who established their company at a relatively young age). It shows that you did your “homework” before the interview and read about your interviewer.
  10. What do you like most about the company or your position? It shows that you are interested in the more human and personal aspect of the interviewers and that you care about other aspects besides professionalism.
  11. How many founders/partners are engaged on a daily basis? How much daily interaction is there between them and all the employees? (This question is not necessarily addressed to the founders/partners, and it’s something you may even want to ask the recruiter at the beginning of the process). It shows your interest in the nature of the organization.
  12. Are there any options for promotion in this job? This is a trick question and you should understand according to the situation if it is appropriate for you to ask. It is important to know how to phrase it, meaning that instead of asking “Is there a potential for promotion?” or “Is it possible to get promoted?” – you can ask if there is any intra-organizational mobility.

This question can be problematic because it can make the interviewer feel that you are “getting in over your head” and “setting your sights” on other positions and promotion even before getting the job. You may give the impression that you are not really interested in the current position but see it as a stop on the way (sometimes this is the truth, but stating it directly may do you a disservice). In tech companies and startups, there is usually an option for promotion. Obviously, it depends on standards, quality of your work and satisfaction of your managers.

Especially when there is a concern that you are overqualified for a job (meaning that you have too much experience), this question may fail you, since it gives a feeling that you will exhaust your potential for the current position pretty quickly and will seek to get promoted. In such a situation, it would be better for the company to recruit someone with less experience and more motivation to prove themselves, and gain experience as part of the offered job.

First Impression

How do you prepare for an interview mentally, visually and technically?

A first impression refers to the weight that people tend to give to the initial information they know about another person, compared to the information that follows. We tend to judge people based on the initial information we know about them; additional information is not always given the opportunity to influence our judgment and opinion about a person (Anderson, 1965). In other words, the first impression is critical.

In an article published in the Harvard Business Review magazine, entrepreneur Rachel Greenwald wrote about how to deal with the consequences of a first impression in the recruitment screening context. Here are a few excellent tips from the article that will prove useful:

Tips for a video interview

Over the last year, video interviews have become particularly relevant, and there are a few things to keep in mind:

How to dress for a job interview

The last issue, which is also related to the first impression, has to do with what you wear. Whether it is a video or face-to-face interview, it’s important to put some thought into your choice of clothes to demonstrate that you are aware of the situation, workplace and position you are seeking.

In conclusion of this guide, watch a video published by the “Kan 11” Channel, which summarizes and illustrates how you should prepare for a job interview. Definitely worth watching.

Job interviews can be daunting and stressful. We wrote the Job Interview Guide to help you be prepared and relaxed. In the first part of the guide, we talked about various types of interviews and interviewers, elaborated in detail on each interview you may have to attend in tech companies, and described how to prepare according to the types of questions. In the second part, we stressed the importance of a preliminary research that will allow to demonstrate knowledge and check your suitability for a specific position you are seeking. In the third part, we explained what pitch is, how to build it properly and how to deal with the interview itself. All of these will help you get to the interview after practicing, in order to avoid any surprises and go through the process smoothly. We wish you the best of luck and success in your job interviews!

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Let yourself take a wonderful and indulgent break. Several breaks. Hell, get downright bored.

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Take proper breaks, often. Completely clear your mind. Your next best idea depends on it.

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By taking this 10-min test I can set myself up for success

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