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Calibrating your career compass: How to navigate the interview process

a woman in pink jacket standing in front of a large red spool

By: Ebitie Amughan

The global pandemic brought many changes to how we live and work in the last two years. It also provided an opportunity for people to assess what’s important to them, and introduced new phrases to our dictionaries such as the Great Resignation or Great Reshuffling. In reality, it has been the Great Recentering, a moment of pause for us to think about where we feel the most inspired to work. At Pinterest, we know a thing or two about finding inspiration for what’s next.

I had the time to recenter over the pandemic and reflect on what inspiring work meant to me. I leaned into my transferable skills, interests, and expertise to transition my career from a Technical Recruiter to a Recruiting Operations Program Manager focused on Inclusive Hiring. I went through the ebbs and flows of navigating my next career move and it’s not lost on me that interviewing is a big commitment for everyone involved but especially for candidates. It’s certainly a journey especially if you’re jumping back into interviewing after a period of time so I want to share the 5 tactics that helped me navigate new opportunities.

Move with intention

Interviewing is a commitment for both the candidate and hiring teams – the time spent navigating opportunities, speaking with people, and making decisions can quickly add up. This is why it’s important to pause and reflect on what’s important to you before jumping into a job search. Start by centering yourself, pause all the external expectations of what you should do, and reflect on you – what are you looking for in your next role? Think about your values, your expertise, and your non-negotiables – then prioritize your priorities because not every role will be the perfect match, but if you know what’s important to you and you can center yourself, you’ll be in a better position to evaluate opportunities that align most with your intentions and values.

Create your professional portfolio

Now that you’ve done the work to identify the right opportunities with intention, it’s time to refresh your professional portfolio. This is your personal vault and holistic representation of your professional work and achievements. It includes your up-to-date resumes, LinkedIn profile, publications, recommendations, references, project portfolios, past self-performance reviews, awards or patents – think of it as your professional treasure chest that you can pull from and reference as you navigate the job search. This will give you the hype you need for those interview nerves and allow you to prepare for upcoming conversations. The key is to keep updating your portfolio so it does not seem like a daunting task to compile when you’re ready.

Craft your story

Interviewing is the art of storytelling and there is no one more equipped to tell your story than you. Interviewing gives you a chance to demonstrate your expertise but it is also an opportunity to inspire the hiring team with the intangibles – things that are uniquely you. Remember that your resume is only a snapshot of your accomplishments but it’s an important chapter of your story, especially during the initial application stages. I always encouraged my candidates to update their resume and tailor it for the specific role. That means focusing on the relevant skills for the role that you want and not over indexing on the job that you had. Just because you had a previous role and title doesn’t mean that you don’t have the relevant skills for the role you’re considering. Think creatively about your strengths, transferable skills, and expected impact on the team. You can even think about your favorite story tellers, how they delivered engaging stories that were lined with details and imagery that kept you asking “and then what happened?”

Prepare for the interview

As a recruiter, I spent a lot of time building trust with my candidates and this starts from the moment I connected with them for the very first time. If your recruiter hasn’t prepped you already, ask about the structure, interview focus areas or role competencies of the interview. Based on what they shared, tailor your preparation accordingly and think through examples from your past work and projects that can speak to these examples using the situation-behavior-impact (SBI) method. Build your confidence by answering mock interview questions in the SBI format – you should have a good example for everything that is listed in your resume, don’t forget to practice situational/behavioral questions too. Sometimes this is where past performance reviews can come in, they’re a way to look back on your work and your feedback and reflect on key metrics or wins that you might have otherwise forgotten. It could be beneficial to reflect on past performance reviews as a way to prepare for interviews. Additionally, if it’s the first time you’re conducting a virtual interview, consider connecting with a friend or industry colleague to practice speaking in front of the camera and gaining familiarity with the video conferencing tool. Don’t forget that you can also ask about any accommodations or tools that you need to successfully showcase your work and enhance your interview experience.

Be an interviewer, too

Most companies have a set of company values and it’s important to understand how you align to those values, and the culture of not only the company but also of your immediate team and organization. Do the same prioritization exercise we discussed earlier, and align your values with the values and mission of the company. You want to contribute to a place that allows you to do your best, most inspired work, so take the time to move with intention and consider companies that speak to you on a deeper level. Make sure to also ask questions about the role impact, career development, company trajectory in addition to pertinent benefits and location flexibility. Don’t forego the interview as an opportunity for you to also interview the company and team. Ask good insightful questions based on your research and make sure that you leave the interview with a good understanding of the company and opportunity.

I hope this helps you calibrate your career compass to your next role. If you are interested in putting these skills into practice, consider career opportunities at Pinterest.

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