Many facets of the job interview appear to not have changed over time – the awkward wait in the reception area, the small talk (though small talk actually has a big impact), the common questions like, “Tell Me About Yourself.” However, in the 20+ years that I have been recruiting, I have noticed five ways job interviews have changed over time. Are you prepared for today’s job interview?
1 – Video is here
As a consultant, I work with a wide array of industries and sizes of company, and video interviews are much more common. Furthermore, employers favor different technologies. You might be asked to Skype, join a Google Hangout, or go on Zoom, among other technologies. If you haven’t done a video interview in a while, don’t scramble at the last minute. Make sure you know how to use the more common technologies, and practice interviewing on video specifically – it’s different than live or phone.
2 – You will be tested
Testing has been around for a long time – even my very first part-time office jobs decades ago involved testing on computer software, typing and other administrative skills. However, testing is much broader than technical tests. One thing I’m seeing more often are employers asking for work samples – a research excerpt, a presentation to the hiring committee, lines of code, a marketing campaign. I am seeing employers ask for more and earlier in the process, so prepare for a more active and involved interview process and therefore more investment on your part.
3 – Research is easy – there is no excuse not to know more about the employer
Every company has a website, and additional market information is accessible on your phone via a quick Internet search, so there is no excuse not to be well-researched in the companies you’re targeting. When you know about the company, industry and role you interview for, you prove your genuine interest. Advance research also shows initiative and willingness to put in the work. Finally, the research findings enable you to tailor your responses to what the employer cares about. They expect you to know about them, and it helps you bolster your value proposition, so prioritize research before each interview.
4 – Research is easy, part two – employers will know more about you
Just like it’s easy for you to research the employer so is it easier for the employer to research you. A simple Internet search uncovers pictures you post, comments you’ve made, and other social activity you may not think of as part of your job search, but some employers do look. I remember a senior-level finalist almost get derailed from a comment on a Quora thread. On a happier note, I had a branding candidate leapfrog to the finals (he ultimately got hired) because his personal website showcased the exact tone and style the company wanted for themselves. If you’re not sure what’s out there, put a Google alert on your name so you can stay on top of where you’re mentioned, and review your privacy settings on social media so you manage what you’re sharing.
5 – Competition is broader than the other candidates
Don’t assume that you’re only competing with other candidates for the job at hand. The company might automate, outsource, hire a consultant or move someone internally. Therefore, you need to be that much more compelling about the value you bring. Not only do you have to sell your qualifications for the job at hand, but you also need to make a case why the company needs to invest in a dedicated, full-time, permanent person for this role, rather than some other arrangement. Technology has the advantage of being the bright, shiny object. Outsourcing competes on price. Consultants are used to selling their value proposition. Moving someone internally costs $0 because that person is already here. It is increasingly easy to create a workforce made up of a mix of permanent, freelance, outsourced and automated staffing options. All of these options are your competition, so you have to be even clearer and more compelling about your specific contribution.
Interview preparation should still include the basics because job interviews haven’t completed changed over time. But there are enough new facets of the job interview that it’s worth reconsidering your old assumptions and preparation habits to ensure that you’re taking into account what has changed. Are you prepared for today’s job interview?
This post originally appears in my Forbes column.