Photo by www.amtec.us.com
You finally landed an interview for the job you’ve been coveting – congrats! Now it’s time to buck up and blow your upcoming interview out of the water. Easier said than done though, especially if you’re pretty new to interviews in general or it’s been a while since your last job hunt.
No matter what the situation, you’re likely wondering … how can I stand out in the crowd and impress my interviewer(s)?
- Be authentic. Although preparation is important, the job is really only the right job for you if it’s right for both of you – the interviewee (you) and the employer (the company). So being professional but still yourself is the best way to save wasted time and disappointment in your job search… because if they hire you it should be based on who you really are, and if they don’t move forward with you, it should be because it wasn’t an honest match.
- Dress the part. Whether you’re interviewing to flip burgers or run a country, show up dressed to impress. While a suit is no longer the only way to dress well for interviews, it is still a good go-to in most situations. To be totally sure, ask the company before the day of your interview what their dress code is or do a little bit of research on your own about appropriate interview attire for different situations. At the end of the day, though, It’s always, always better to overdress than underdress.
- Use first names. There is no sweeter sound than your own name. Studies show that even patients in a persistent vegetative state react to the sound of their own name – that’s how powerful this tactic is. Influence the hiring manager and leaving a lasting impression by remembering and using the names of each team member.
- Bring a copy of your resume. Having a resume to reference makes it easy to share the highlights from your career, ensures they align well what you shared on your resume, and demonstrates preparedness in case an interviewer doesn’t have a copy.
- Allow the pause. The most impressive candidates control their desire to fill every space with impulsive answers and hesitant “um”s and “uh”s. When asked a question, take a moment to think through your response or identify an appropriate anecdote and then begin speaking. The pause is fine and it even shows your ability to be calm and composed.
- Show interest in the company. Interview the team that’s interviewing you by asking questions that allow them to talk about what they’re most proud of:
- “I saw that you have great employer reviews. Were you aware of these and why do you think they’re so positive?”
- “What was the organization’s greatest accomplishment last year?”
- “What makes people stay at your company?”
- Talk about what you can do for them. Instead of sharing your skills and knowledge in a totally general sense, share how you think your skills and knowledge applies to the role you’re applying for and in the organization as a whole. Reference the organization’s mission and goals, if you’re able to find them online prior the interview, and help them envision you as a team member of the company. This all amounts to “tailoring” your background to the role and it is at the root of what interviewers want to hear, because it tells them that you’re not just looking for any job, but their job.
- Be fully prepared to answer any interview question that comes your way. No, there’s no way to know for sure what exact questions an interviewer might throw at you, but there are definitely a bunch of common interview questions you could use as guide. Being fully prepared not only helps you avoid getting stumped by a question in the interview, but it also helps show that you take this opportunity seriously, that you care enough to put effort into proper preparation, and also to allow the interview to progress more smoothly and enjoyably for everyone involved.
- Arrive 8 minutes early. Candidates who arrive too early can put pressure on the company’s team members to abandon their other obligations (OR just let you sit there awkwardly by yourself), and candidates who arrive late might be perceived as unprepared or disrespectful. Arrive in the parking lot or neighborhood as early as you need to, but walk in the front door just 5-8 minutes prior to your scheduled interview time.
- Never agree to start immediately. Employers want to know that you care about your current employer’s operations despite leaving the company. If you’re currently employed, always mention the notice you have to give and your cognizance of your employer’s needs when asked how soon you can start.
- Be positive, courteous and confident. You might do everything else “right” in the interview, but if you come across as very negative and /or lacking in good manners or confidence, it’ll make any interviewer second guess whether you’ve got the right personality traits they’re looking for in new hires that will make you pleasant to work with.
- Follow up. Sending a follow-up note or email can keep you fresh on the team’s mind and reinforce the fact that you’re a courteous and thoughtful person, all great things to do no matter where you are in the hiring process but especially if you were interviewed early in the selection process. Plan that follow-up phone call or email as early as the day of the interview or the morning after.