After sending out what seems like countless resumes, you finally got a call for a job interview. Securing an interview is great (congratulations!); you’ve wowed your potential employer on paper, and now you have to wow them in person. Here are ten tips to set yourself apart from other candidates and land that next job:
Do your homework about the organization ahead of time. Having little or no knowledge of the company is the most common mistake job seekers make during the interview process. With the plethora of information available online, there is no excuse not to research a company fully. Check out the company website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile and news articles about the organization and its leaders. Put some thought into your take on the company and the industry. By coming into the interview with background knowledge about the organization, you can show your enthusiasm, resourcefulness and commitment.
This is a step many interviewees don’t make so you’ll be at an advantage if you know some facts about the managers you’re interviewing with ahead of time. Once you have the names of the people you will be meeting with, Google them and look for them on LinkedIn. You will know what they look like, their backgrounds, including work experience and education, interests and groups they belong to, and you can see if they’ve been published.
Once you’ve researched the people you’ll be interviewing with, look for connections. Did you attend the same graduate school? Do you have a former colleague in common? Do you belong to the same or similar LinkedIn groups? Do you follow the same people or organizations on Twitter? You might even find common ground for activities that aren’t work-related — you both run half marathons or are football fans. Take advantage of these similarities to establish a solid relationship from the start.
Before your interview, the hiring manager may also research you (when allowed). Make sure all your online profiles — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest — are professional. Replace silly or compromising photos with headshots. Remove any controversial content (think politics or religion). Untag any photos you don’t want to be seen. And, Google yourself to see what results come up. Do so under your real name and any known moniker you may use (like your Twitter handle). Finally, make sure your LinkedIn profile matches the resume you submitted and that any online profiles featuring your experience and background are updated and consistent.
Plan on arriving 10-15 minutes before your interview time — any earlier and you could be inconveniencing the manager and other employees. If you arrive later, well, you’ll be late! Anticipate traffic, missed subway connections, parking hassles and the time to get through a security check. It may help to do a dry run in the days before the interview so you know exactly where you’re going on game day.
Job seekers often make the mistake of dressing according to the office dress code instead of the universal interview code. How you present yourself is often less about fashion and more about judgment. Unless you’re told otherwise by the hiring manager, wear a suit. Professional interview attire is required in all situations — even in jeans and t-shirts work environments. Always dress like you want the job, not like you’ve already earned it.
Your interviewer will form a first impression about you within the first few minutes of your meeting. You need to show interest, energy and enthusiasm. The best way to do this? Smile! Smiling also helps you relax and makes you look more approachable and in control. Also, remember the importance of eye contact, good posture, a solid handshake and confidence.
It’s not enough to be prepared to answer questions from the hiring manager (although that’s a must, too), you should also have your own questions ready. Make sure your questions aren’t about something you can easily find online — business divisions, stock performance or number of employees. Instead, use this time to glean more information about the role you may play. Try asking, “If I started tomorrow, what would you have me do?” This type of question gives you insight into the organization’s greatest needs and allows you an opportunity to explain how you’ll fill them.
The most frustrating part of an interview can be after it’s over and not knowing how you performed. You may feel like you nailed it, but don’t get a callback. Other times, you may be unsure and then you get called in for another round. The only way to know for sure is to ask. Many candidates shy away from this practice. It can be awkward to ask about your performance. Consider asking a question such as, “How do you think my skills and experience match with what you’re looking for in this position?” Getting an answer to this question will not only ease your mind in the days after the interview, but it also gives you a chance to address any concerns they may have about you.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a thank you. Make sure you email or write a personal thank you note to everyone you interviewed with. Don’t just jot down a few sentences and hit send (especially from your mobile device while sitting in their parking lot!). This communication is an example of your writing and attention to detail. A thank you littered with typos and grammatical mistakes can kill your chances for the job. Have a trusted editor read your letter to make sure it is clear, concise and correct. Also, personalize it for each person you met with — sending a group note, or the same copy to everyone is a big no-no.
Follow these ten tips to ace your interview and land that next job!