Recent college graduates and professionals looking for a change are both on the hunt. This is the time of year when you have the most competition. And the hardest time landing interviews. But what happens when you do?
You have to seriously blow the interviewer’s socks off.
I know it’s daunting. Whether you’re interviewing for the first time or choosing to jump back into the process again, interviewing is something that takes skill. It takes finesse. But how exactly do you achieve that? What should you be doing before and during each interview so that you leave with a hearty handshake and the solid promise of Interview #2? What do you do immediately after you’ve left?
As someone who’s been coached by multiple staffing agents in the art of the interview, I’m going to completely demystify this whole process for you. Because it may not be true for everything else in life, but in this case…everybody wants easy.
Before The Interview
1. Do Your Research
This is where you should be spending most of your time. Comb the company’s website. What is their mission? What are their values? How do employee’s rate the company culture and benefits?
At the same time, do some digging on your would-be boss. What’s their career path been like? How do people endorse them on LinkedIn? Really think about how this person would fit in to your next career. Would they be a great mentor, if that is what you’re looking for? Open up doors for business connections? Be a great supervisor?
Before an interview, you have to be a serious internet sleuth. Have a few key points ready to speak on. Because, believe me, they’re going to ask you something like Why is this company, this position, a good fit for you? and you need to have a ridiculously informed answer to set yourself apart from the steady stream of candidates coming through their revolving door.
2. Dress To Impress…With A Twist
Here is where I tell you that everything you’ve heard about standard tried and true interview clothes is wrong. Yes, you want to look fresh and sharp. Yes, you want to look professional. But isn’t everyone’s view on what those things actually are relative? Of course they are!
This is where the internet sleuthing you did comes into play again. Did the website show photos of the company with employees? What were they dressed like? Check a few people’s LinkedIn headshots along with your would-be boss’. Dress to impress them but emulating their style. If they view smart, fresh, and professional as a two piece business suit, pull one out of your closet, and you’re good to go. Are they more business casual with jeans, heels, and a dress shirt? Think about reflecting their style in your interview.
But don’t forget the twist. Always include something simple and subtle that shows your personal style. Maybe a patterned silk scarf tied on your bag. A pocket handkerchief. Just be sure to always keep the nail polish nude or a French manicure.
3. Cross Reference Your Resume and The Job Description
Print a copy of your resume and the description of the job you’re applying to. Place them side by side. Highlight each job responsibility on the description and the corresponding proof on your resume of your experience performing the task. Trust me, this not only serves to pump you up like yeah, I’ve got this! but it also can serve as a memorable talking point in your interview. In reviewing the job description along with my resume together, it is clear that I have experience performing the necessary tasks as a (insert position here).
During The Interview
1. Use Your Talking Points
You did your research for a reason. You’ve come knowledgable. Use the information you’ve prepared to respond to your interviewer’s questions in a detailed way. Don’t use coined answers. Be remarkable.
2. Take Notes
Come with a leather padfolio and a working pen. Take notes when your interviewer says something of note. You are not a passive entity in this process. You are as much of a strong player in this game as the interviewer. Remember that! Plus, you’ll need to remember a thing or two for later. (See After the Interview).
3. Ask Questions
I just said you’re not a passive entity in the interview process. Prove it. Do so by coming with three prepared questions that are thoughtful. This is your opportunity to get your questions answered and assure yourself that you really actually want to work at this place. Maybe you ask what they most valued about the person last holding the position. Or even ask what they feel will be the bigger challenge for someone entering the role.
Just as a hiring decision is important to a company, the decision of accepting is important for you. Make sure you’re as informed in that decision as you can possibly be.
After the Interview
1. Send a Thank You Email
Now that you’ve absolutely crushed the interview and you’re confident the company loved you, reinforce that feeling. Before end of business day, make sure to send a well-crafted email. Thank them for their time and consideration. Remind them of one or two things that were memorable in your conversation. Remind them of how you connected and stay top of mind. They probably spoke with a few other applicants before or after speaking with you, so make them remember you.
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