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The Paychex Guide to Acing Your First Job Interview

by | Mar 4, 2021 | Paychex

As we think about our mission of being an essential provider of HR, Paryoll, and Benefits, we strive to take the complexity out of the day to day for our clients and make it simple. We do the same for our job seekers and employees. We want to give you the tools and insights to navigate what seems like a complex process of landing a job, a simple one. 

Applying for a job, regardless of your experience level, can be daunting. From constantly refreshing LinkedIn for job openings, to finally getting  an interview, it’s no secret that landing your desired role takes lots of prep work, research, and practice. This is why mastering the right tools and setting a solid game plan for the application and interview process first can help make the entire process less stressful and make you  more successful.

For those of you looking to work in IT, sales, or other service oriented careers, Paychex, an award-winning service and integrated HR and payroll technology company, is here to share start to finish interview tips and tricks to ensure your interview game plan is foolproof. 

Landing the Interview 

Once to have applied to your desired role, through a company’s website or via a job site such as LinkedIn or Indeed, the next step will be to get in touch with a recruiter for that company. You will typically do this on LinkedIn or via email. Having a presence on recruiting platforms such as LinkedIn is a great way for recruiters to put a face to the name they are seeing on a resume. 

LinkedIn also gives you a visible space to share more about your background and interests, which gives recruiters a better idea about who you are and they can reference these during your interview. Recruiters are most actively reviewing LinkedIn for suitable candidates and will oftentimes reachout first, offering to talk over the phone or they might encourage you to apply for an open position.  

When it comes to the actual interview process, you can generally expect two to three rounds of interviews for most entry and mid level jobs. It is important to be aware that every company navigates this process differently. For example, when it comes to interviews, Paychex uses a three fold process. 

  1. This first step involves connecting with a Paychex recruiter If your resume seems to be a good fit for the position, you’ll receive a call, usually these are over the phone and not in person or on video, from one of the recruiters, who will then set up some time to chat with the candidate. This step allows for Paychex to know a little more about the person behind the resume and for the candidate to ask any questions that they might have off-hand. 
  2. If the conversation with the recruiter goes well and the candidate continues to show interest in the role, the second interview in the Paychex hiring process will be with the manager of the role the candidate is applying for. This is the first formal interview, meaning the candidate is expected to be on video (or in person) and dressed appropriately. 
  3. The final step in the hiring process at Paychex is the chance for the candidate to meet their potential new team. If the manager agrees that the candidate is a good fit for the role, they’ll schedule time for the candidate to interview with another leader on the team, or to participate in a realistic job preview, before making a hiring decision.

Preparing for The Interview 

Establishing a game plan for your interview begins with researching more about the role you are applying for, the company you are interviewing with, as well as researching background information on the person that will be interviewing you. Start by looking at the job description and then pinpoint how your past experiences either coincide with the requirements, or how they have prepared you to meet the standards of the role. 

When researching the company, look into their values, their clients, and make sure you can reference a few case studies or examples of past work done by the company that interests you or that you can ask questions about. 

When it comes to researching the person interviewing you, LinkedIn is a great place to look and see if you have any mutual interests, any similar roles, or past employers in common. Knowing your audience and finding a common ground to build a relationship with your interviewer is a great way to be remembered. 

Another important thing to research prior to your interview is commonly asked interview questions. This way you can outline some examples of past work that you’ve done or have a list of work scenarios that you want to share. 

As noted earlier, having a list of questions on hand is important, for a large portion of an interview involves the interviewer answering the candidate’s questions. The more questions you have, the more likely you are to come across as interested in the role and the company. 

Remember, there is no such thing as too much preparation. You may not use all your expertise or insights in the first interview, and chances are you’ll keep them in your back pocket for multiple interviews. 

Additionally, it’s always a good idea to record yourself answering interview questions to catch any hiccups you might have while speaking, such as overusing filler words or taking too many pauses. Overall, as long as you research, practice, relax and just be yourself, you are sure to make a great impression.  

Interview Dos and Don’ts

On the day of the actual interview, there are certain dos and don’ts to keep in mind ahead of time that can ease your nerves and help you to come across as more confident. Especially in today’s working climate, it is important to confirm whether or not your interview will be virtual or in person. 

If your interview is in person, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to the office. If your interview is virtual (as most are these days), make sure to practice using the video or audio platform that you will use during the interview, as well as be sure to check your microphone and camera ahead of time to ensure they are working correctly. You always want to join the interview link a few minutes before the start time to ensure that if there are any technical difficulties, you have time to fix them. Being punctual also shows the interviewer that you value their time. 

Setting up your interview location is very important. Make sure you have set up a space that has good lighting, meaning there is enough sunlight or overhead light and no shadows — a helpful tip is not to sit directly in front of a window. This way, the interviewer can see and hear you clearly.

Looking the part is always a bonus. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed for an interview. This shows that you respect your interviewer and can adhere to a professional wardrobe when needed. Plus, when you look your best, your confidence is boosted. 

Another helpful tip for nailing the interview is to use your resume as a baseline and not a crutch. Candidates who elaborate on their experiences and can find ways to shape a professional narrative that speaks to the company’s values, mission and the work the team does, is key. Remember that interviewers have access to your resume, meaning they don’t want you to merely read off your accomplishments, they want to see your personality and interests shine through between the lines. 

In terms of interview don’ts, you should never bash your current or any past employers. Doing so would not only be inappropriate and show a lack of consideration or respect towards your employers, but it will make your interviewer weary that you will speak ill of their company if hired. 

Another important thing to note is that you cannot assume that recruiters or interviewers know everything about you just from looking at your LinkedIn or resume. You are your biggest advocate, and if you can shape a narrative that goes along with your experiences in an engaging way, you are sure to shine. 

After the Interview — Staying in Touch

After the interview, it’s always a good idea to send a follow-up note thanking the interviewer for their time. Sending a note is not only polite, it also shows that you are interested and serious you are about the role. Following up and staying connected to the recruiter and the interviewer is key to forming a real connection and to stand out amongst other candidates. 

If a week or so passes and you haven’t heard anything, follow-up and let them know that you remain very interested in the role. Chances are, they are running behind and have lots of applicants. If you share that you are still interested, this helps them to narrow down the candidates. Expressing that you remain interested is important because recruiters know that this role remains your top choice even if you have multiple offers that you are juggling. 

Ready to take on your interview? If you are interested in Paychex, join the Paychex Talent Network. They are always looking for students and new graduates with fresh ideas and an eagerness to learn. Be sure to check Paychex out today to learn about the many exciting opportunities that await. 

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