The job market is heating up and employers are losing talented baby boomers to retirement, now may be the best time in a decade for workers with sought-after talent to leave their current positions for greener pastures. However, with every new job opportunity there is always one obstacle to overcome, “The Job Interview”. During my twelve years in recruiting I have seen the most qualified candidates fail to get positions repeatedly as they were not properly prepared for their interview. As a result, below are several tips using feedback from both candidates and hiring managers. These takeaways will help prepare you for your next interview. You would be surprised how many people fail to remember the most obvious tips.
Research the company:
First, prior to any interview it is imperative to research the company. This research starts immediately and should include more than just viewing the company’s website. At a minimum, know the company’s mission statement, names of executive staff, the history of the firm, and information about the industry. If it’s a publicly traded company read the company’s annual report and know the revenue and company size. Compile a list of questions about the information you found online. The goal is to give the impression that you want this position and that it is important enough to do more than just basic research.
Research the interviewer:
It is also important to find out if the interview is going to be one-on-one or a panel interview. Usually you will receive this information prior to the interview but don’t be afraid to ask. Also, be sure to get the names of the people that are interviewing you; although you may not receive everyone’s name. Most corporate employees have a LinkedIn account, there are advantages to knowing what position each interviewer holds and their background.
Dress to impress:
There’s an old adage that still holds true today, “you only get one chance to make a great first impression”. Professional business attire should always be worn to an interview. Stick with neutral colors such as black, navy, brown and gray. Avoid wearing strong perfumes or cologne; smelling good may give us confidence but keep in mind that the interviewer may be sensitive/ allergic to fragrances therefore use sparingly.
Make sure to arrive early as you want the perspective employer to know that you are reliable, responsible and respectful of their time. As a result, arrive at least 10-15 minutes early allowing for time to park and sign-in at the front desk. Arriving earlier than that may make the perspective employer feel pressured and rushed. In the event you arrive too early:
Wait in your car or a nearby storefront
Check your appearance
Spend time going over some of the questions that may be asked during the interview
Ensure that you are poised and organized to ensure you walk in with confidence
Strengths and weaknesses:
One question that comes up a lot in interviews is, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Your answers should focus on your strengths that relate to the job description. It’s hard to think of weaknesses but think of what you could improve pertaining to the perspective position. Give some examples of your accomplishments during the interview and remember this is not a time to be modest, speak with confidence when explaining your experience. When answering questions make sure to give specific examples but keep it short and concise.
During Interview - Active Listening:
In a job interview it is crucial that you use active listening to focus on the conversation taking place and do not allow your mind to drift. It is essential to look at verbal and nonverbal communication while meeting with your perspective employer. Make your best effort to clearly listen to what the interviewer is communicating and engage not only your hearing but your vision to enhance your hearing. Perhaps you should write some notes to keep fully engaged. This encourages you to potentially not tune the interviewer out or daydream but most importantly it will keep you engaged and ready to answer whatever questions are asked.
A common mistake that interviewers often make is that they ask the interviewer to repeat the question more than once. This sends a message that you may be uninterested or struggling to focus. No one wants to send a negative message so always repeat questions in your head prior to answering them to ensure you are sending a positive response with your well prepared answer.
At the end of the interview it is common for the interviewer to ask, “Do you have any questions?" You may want to ask the interviewer to elaborate on an item discussed during the interview or refer to your list of questions that you created prior to the interview. In addition, it is always a good idea to ask the interviewer what the next step is in the process. Asking this question lets you know what the interviewer’s time frame is for making a decision.
Thank them for their time and follow-up with a thank-you e-mail. Read more on how to write a thank you note: The Art of the Thank You E-mail.