While your resume is what gets you an interview, it won’t get you the job. The first interview is your chance to show that you’re worth investing more time in, and it’s essential to spend time honing your interview skills, so you’re ready to put your best foot forward. Hiring managers can make exceptions to requirements if they feel the candidate is otherwise a good fit, but they can also reject someone with the perfect experience because the interview didn’t go well.
Here are six tricks to ensuring your interview doesn’t leave you spooked.
Picture this: you finally scored an interview for your dream job. You sit down with the hiring manager for your first interview, and the first thing asked is, “So, what do you know about our organization?”. Whether this question is a layup, or a nightmare depends on whether you did your homework.
Before every interview, it’s critical to spend time researching the industry, the company, and the job. While this seems common sense, you’d be surprised by the number of candidates caught off guard by this type of introductory question.
To prepare for the interview, read the company’s website and learn what they do, what makes them unique, and their mission. With this information on hand, you can show the hiring manager both that you prepared and that you’re genuinely interested in the position.
Your preparation should also include reviewing the job posting and identifying any potential areas where your experience may fall short, as well as researching missing skills and how you could learn them. Think through any possible objections the hiring manager may have. Proactively bringing these up as opportunities for growth demonstrates that while you don’t currently meet that requirement, you’re curious and eager to learn.
Recruiters typically do a lot of “role-playing” – the anticipation and talking out of various scenarios – with their candidates. Whether you’re working with a recruiter or not, this exercise will help you articulate ideal answers clearly and concisely.
For example, how would you answer:
Talking through these answers out loud, much like an actor would when preparing for an audition, helps you to think on your feet during the interview and ensure that you hit the necessary highlights they need to hear to move you forward.
For example, think of the big picture “Tell me about yourself” as an opening for your elevator pitch or a sixty-second television commercial on you and your skills. This is the one time you can go into sales mode during an interview and not sound like you’re desperately trying to sell yourself. Practicing ahead of time can result in you elevating yourself and your experience and not spook the hiring manager into not moving you forward.
One important note to remember is that, as much as possible, you should tailor your answers to this company and position. Of course, you want to be honest and base all answers on the core of who you are, but it’s essential to focus on the points that most pertain to this particular position.
Many people ramble when they’re nervous. During an interview, doing so runs the risk of the interviewer losing control of the conversation and failing to get all the information they need. Therefore, it’s important to do a mental check-in while answering questions by asking yourself:
One strategy for ensuring the interviewer receives the answers they need and is satisfied with your responses is to periodically ask things like, “did that answer your question, or do you need more detail?” or perhaps “is that the answer you’re looking for?”.
Following the interviewer’s lead and answering what they ask, rather than giving lengthy descriptions of what you think they should know, is critical to ensuring your first interview isn’t your last.
Another point to remember during the interview is to explain your experience as it pertains to the job description. You’ve got this; this is what you prepared for! Staying focused on the job and how your experience matches throughout the interview is critical. The hiring manager has a job they need to fill – remind yourself that you’re there to show them you’re the perfect fit.
Think back to those potential objections you identified while doing your preliminary research. Find a way to weave those into the conversation proactively. Highlight your most relevant skills and accomplishments and discuss what you’re eager to learn more about if you lack that skill.
Every question is an opportunity for you to explain why you’re the right person for the job. Don’t miss out!
You’ll surely be asked toward the end of the interview if you have any questions. This is your opportunity to find out what you need to know and show that you’re genuinely interested in the job.
While an interview may seem like it’s just the hiring manager’s chance to screen you, it’s important to remember that this is also your chance to find out if this is truly a company and a role in which you’ll be happy. Toward the end of the interview is when you can ask the required questions to ensure you even want a second interview.
Questions about the team, culture, goals, growth opportunities, and daily activities show the interviewer that you’re interested in the position. After all – they don’t want to hire someone looking for just any job; they want to hire someone who wants this job. Use the information you garnered during the interview and during your initial research to show that you’re taking the opportunity seriously.
Perhaps the most powerful question you can ask is, “What reservations do you have about my ability to do this job?”. This provides the interviewer a moment to assess whether they have asked you everything they need to move you to the next round, as well as giving you immediate feedback as to how the interview went. Asking this also ensures you have one last chance to address those concerns before the call ends.
At the end of the call, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and consideration. After all, their time is valuable, and they’ve chosen to invest it in you. This is a great time to share why you’re interested in the company and this particular position, ensuring they leave on a positive note with one final insight into your eagerness and motivations.
Once the interview ends, follow up with a thank you note to solidify your gratitude in writing – and again, share why you are interested and why you’re the right person to hire. If any potential concerns came up when you asked that final question, now’s a great time to speak to those in writing as well to solidify your response.
It’s critical to keep this email concise and on point and to send it within 24 hours of the interview – and sooner if possible, if you’re addressing potential concerns.
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