Mastering a 21st Century Interview

An interview in today’s world can present a few more elements to think about in your preparation process. Technology has had a significant impact on the recruiting and interviewing process. It is no longer necessary to be in the same room, city or country to participate in an interview, and new software programs allow companies to vet potential candidates before they even meet them.

'Prepare well to present well'  still applies for interviews and perhaps even more so in today's very competitive world.  Your appearance, behaviour and communication all need to be in top form to showcase  your best self.

In addition to these fundamental requirements, you should also:


It is important to get familiar with a company before an interview so that you can better align your answers to certain questions based on your preliminary knowledge of the company. For example, if you find out the company places a high value on community involvement, you can make a point to incorporate something about community presence in your interview. The easiest way to get to know a company these days is to check them out online. Don’t just scan their homepage, go to their corporate website, read their blogs and news updates. Always look for a mission statement so that you can share it in your interview and do your best to learn about their business culture and reputation. 


Today's employers are most likely going to do a little further digging than a basic background check to get to know you. In fact, 91 percent of employers check out job candidates on social media before an interview. It is important that your online presence  not detract your from your talent and competence or reflect negatively on you in the eyes of a future employer. The last thing you want is your first impression of a potential employer to be made from a post you shared at a party over the weekend. Check your  social media profiles, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and get rid of anything incriminating, such as profane language, obscene posts, lewd photos, or anything that you feel would reflect poorly in the eyes of a prospective employer.  


The majority of job interviews begin with the expected  question: “So, tell me a little about yourself and what you think has prepared you for this position.” This prompt gives you the opportunity to tell the employer your story, or explain who you are and how you came to be in the position you are in, seeking employment with their  company. Little has changed in the 21st century where your story statement is concerned, as it is still one of the most important parts of your interview. You should think carefully about:

  • what you are passionate about in life and what your professional goals are.
  • what steps led you to want this particular job.
  • how has your previous employment, education and experience prepared you for the job for which you are applying?

Use the Job Description to Anticipate Questions
I have interviewed hundreds of candidates over the years and on more than a few occasions I found myself wondering if the candidate had even read the job description. Don’t make that mistake.  If the job description says you must have strong analytical skills, or emphasizes teamwork or speaks to organizational abilities, be prepared with some strong examples to answer these types of questions.


These days, every organization has a website. But just reading the website is not enough, if you want to beat the competition. Be sure you know the name and bio of the CEO, and if it’s a publicly-traded company and their current stock price. Look at their competition and trends, posts and news in the industry as a whole. The more you can share to show you did your homework on the company the more impressed your interviewers will be.  

5. CREATE A 30/60/90-DAY PLAN

Consider putting together your plan of action– what you would do, if hired, in the first 3 months of the job. Find a subtle way to bring this up in the interview, or, if you are asked what you would do in the first few months of the job, bring out a memo or PowerPoint showing you have thought through exactly what you would achieve. Especially for sales or for leadership-related positions, this can truly distinguish you from your competition. 


Run through your interview questions with a career coach, a friend, a video camera, or a  family member. Try to say your interview questions out loud at least once or twice before your big day. Practice makes perfect, and nothing cures pre-interview jitters  more than being fully prepared  and having your answers well-rehearsed. Work on finding a balance between memorizing your answers but coming across as natural and genuine as possible.  

Even though a lot of the same interview tips hold true today as they did for the past several decades, you need to be cognizant of what is going to give you the edge in the 21st Century.  Soft skills are hugely important in today's job market, With hard skills, you can manage your boss; and with soft skills, you can lead your boss.” Professor M.S. Rao, leadership specialist. If you would like to know more about preparing for a big interview contact Jennifer Grant International. We can help you.

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