Congratulations! You finally got an interview with the company of your dreams. Now what? You must prove to the hiring manager not only why you’re qualified, but why you are a better fit than the other candidates. To do this (or even get invited back for a second interview), you must make a positive, lasting impression.
Here are some sure-fire ways to rise above the pack:
- Be confident: Though the pressure of a long job search may make you nervous, it’s important that you show your interviewer that you are confident in your ability to be successful in the role. To do this, you must believe it yourself. Review your resume and practice explaining how your skills and past experiences allow you to meet the job’s expectations. Once you master this, your confidence will shine through.
- Be likeable: Employers are looking for someone they can easily get along with and possibly work alongside. Smile, make eye contact, sit up straight, listen, engage in the conversation, and most importantly, be yourself.
- Do research: Employers are interested in candidates who have taken the time to research the company. To begin your research, check out the company website and learn about their business model, the products/services they offer, and their mission statements. You can also utilize Google and other news sources to educate yourself about how the company competes in its industry. It’s also important to have a full understanding of the position you have applied for, so you’re able to explain how you can best help the company achieve its goals. Remember, you want to show the hiring manager that you’re excited about the opportunity and will be ready to get the ball rolling on your first day.
- Be flexible: In an economy where many organizations are doing more with less, flexibility is a key attribute of a new hire. To impress your interviewer, explain your willingness to learn and to take on new tasks. You should also highlight past experiences where you have successfully managed cross-departmental tasks.
- Set a hook: Because most hiring managers interview many people for the same position, it may be hard for them to remember every single candidate they meet. If you don’t want to fall through the cracks, think of something that will help you stand out and subtly work it into your interview. Whether your hook is reflected through an outside interest (“the avid triathlete”), or in an unusual fact about your career (“the guy who managed an office in the UK, while living in Florida”), it should be something that is memorable and paints you in a positive light.
- Stay positive: Unfortunately, hiring managers will most likely only remember a few “sound bites” of the interview, especially negative ones. Therefore, you should never answer a question with, “I haven’t,” “I can’t”, or “I don’t”. If your interviewer asks you a question in an area where you lack experience, always share an alternate applicable experience that showcases your skills.
- Ask meaningful questions: If you take some time before the interview to prepare a list of your questions, you will appear professional, interested and engaged. You should ask questions that will help you get a feel for the company’s culture, and whether or not their values align with your own. Here are 6 questions great candidates ask!
- Follow up: Always shoot your interviewer a thank you note within 24 hours. A handwritten note is fine, but an email will reach your contact much faster. It is especially important to use email if the company expects to make a quick hiring decision. In the thank you note, you can refer back to the interview by writing, “I found our conversation about (insert topic) very insightful and look forward to discussing it further.” You can also summarize and include a link to a related article that you think the interviewer may find interesting.