You have passed the online psychometric tests, your resume stands out, you have completed the phone screening with HR, and now you get the news you have been waiting for “We would like you to come in for an interview to meet with the Hiring Manager”.
Although things don’t always happen in the order as described above – an In-Person interview is often the moment that could either make or break you in the hiring process.
Even though Technology has changed hiring: pre-screening, LinkedIn, Online Tests, Skype interviews – the traditional face-to-face interview is still an important part of the process. And almost every job that is filled today – there is an in-person interview.
Let’s look at some ideas that will help you to ace your next job interview, and eliminate your competition. Remember that you are competing with sometimes 100s of candidates for the same position(many of them equally smarter & with better experience). So you have to give it your best shot to come out as the most suited candidate for that position.
1. Prepare!! Prepare!! Prepare!!
Do I have to be so dramatic? Three exclamation points?
Yes, you might have the most impressive resume and an excellent background – however proper preparation is paramount. It is absolutely crucial
“Proper Prior Preparation & Planning Prevents Poor Performance” – Brian Tracy
The Benefits of Preparation are many folds – it improves your confidence levels; you come across better prepared; you come across more confident; and it helps you stand out in the interview.
What do I prepare for?
How do I prepare for the interview?
Here are my suggestions:
a. Start with Yourself
Learn your resume inside out. Keep all information handy (data, achievements, certificates). Refresh your memory about your background. Practice what you need to say about your past accomplishments.
b. Practice Standard Questions
No matter which role or which organization you will interview for – there are always standard (canned) interview questions that will be asked. Practice them.
Here is a compiled list of the top interview questions.
c. About the Company
The last thing you want to do is to come across as that bumpkin candidate who did not know anything about the company you are interviewing for. Learn what the company does, who its customers are, who their competitors are, what their products are, etc.
d. About the Interviewer
With LinkedIn and Google, it is not hard to find out about the Hiring Manager. Most professionals have their work history on LinkedIn. This shows diligence on your part and the fact that you are willing to do your homework.
e. About the Industry
Have some basic knowledge about the Industry. It always helps. This is the reason many employers prefer to hire candidates from the same industry (the learning curve is shorter). Don’t let the lack of industry experience discourage you. The more you learn about the Industry, the more you can impress them with the fact that you are a quick learner.
f. Questions to Ask Them
Almost every interview, you will be given an opportunity to ask them questions at the end. This can be a deal-breaker. Never say “I don’t have any questions”. Such an answer shows that you either did not pay attention or you just want any job that comes up. Prep a series of questions that you can ask at the end. Towards the end of the article, I have provided a list of questions you can ask.
And don’t wait till the previous night to do all the preparation.
2. Your Portfolio
Most candidates go to an interview with just their resume. Some don’t even make a resume with them. What are they thinking?
Put yourself in the Hiring Manager’s shoes – Do you think the hiring manager stays up all night thinking how excited he/she is to meet you? Do you think they are waiting from 9 am in the morning just to meet you?
Their days are busy with multiple meetings, deadlines, etc. They might also be meeting with multiple candidates on the same day. So don’t assume that they will have your resume ready.
Many times I have walked into interviews and they did not have a copy of my resume (some did not even know my name). I am glad I had a few copies handy.
Here are a few other suggestions:
- Print multiple copies of your resume – You never know how many managers you might meet on the same day.
- Use better quality paper – I always print my resumes on 32lb paper (it is $2 expensive at Staples- no big deal – don’t be cheap).
- Prepare a portfolio – The more supporting documents (certificates, testimonials) you have ready to show them – the better.
- Present your portfolio – Instead of handing just my resume, I provide them with Recommendations and my accomplishments. I give this to them at the beginning of the interview. If you do this, right off the bat you will stand out.
3. Attire & Body Language
In some ways, you are putting on a show. You only have 30 to 60 minutes to make a favorable impression. You will not get another chance. So make the best use of the opportunity.
a. Your attire
The way you dress is very important. Always dress your best. Numerous studies have shown that the way you dress has an impact on how you are perceived in Job Interviews. There are videos on YouTube that give you examples of how to dress for Interviews.
Take it easy on the cologne (definitely take a shower and use a deodorant). Be cognizant of the fact that some people do not like strong fragrances & scents. And of-course, no cigarettes before an interview.
b. Practice Body Language
Only 7% of your communication is verbal, everything else 93% is non-verbal – your posture, your tone, body language, etc.
Practice proper handshakes and eye contact. These things do not come naturally to all of us (I still struggle with eye contact). That is why it is important to be practice and become comfortable with eye contact.
Smile more often in the interview. This is difficult especially when you are under pressure in an interview. In Charisma Myth, the author talks about the impact smile has on others. A proper smile conveys warmth and indicates trust.
The 2-second rule. Just because you have practiced & rehearsed each possible interview questions, does not mean you need to spit those out as soon as they are asked. Be careful about coming across too memorized. Whenever you are asked a question, pause for 2 seconds, and answer. This shows them you are thinking about their questions.
This is an important skill to learn – the art of proper questioning. Questioning builds trust, it helps you clarify; and it shows you are thinking.
a. During the Interview
You will be asked multiple questions by your interviewer. I recommend using questions to clarify what they are asking. Use this for the tough questions. Before you answer -clarify; this is beneficial to you because you know exactly how to answer. This also indicates that you are a good listener.
b. At the End
After the interviewer has gone through all their questions – they will most likely give you an opportunity to ask questions. Use this moment to shine. Keep a list of good questions to ask. Most importantly – you also want to know everything about the role and the company. Make sure you get all the clarifications you need before you leave. Here is a sample of questions that I recommend asking at the end of the interview.
- What are some things I need to do to be really successful at this job?
- What are some of the key skills you are specifically looking for?
- What does your dream hire look like?
- What do you think the next 5 years look like for the organization?
- What are some of the things that you personally like about the company?
- I was reading about happening in the industry. How do you think that will impact the company?
- What does the training program look like?
Questions like these are important. It shows that you are serious about the job and the company. It also shows you are doing the research. Remember, you are also interviewing them.
6. Ask for the Sale
I am surprised to see any advice on the internet or even books, that ignore this important aspect. I am not sure about you but I don’t enjoy the anticipation after the interview. I don’t like to wait for weeks after an interview to know if they are interested or not.
You have spent 60 minutes, delivered an exceptional interview (in your mind), and then you hope they will call you back. Why go through the nervous wait-time after an interview? Don’t you want to know whether you have a chance or not? I do.
If you ask “Did I get the job?” – it will make them uncomfortable and even make them think that you are desperate.
I recommend ending the interview with a question that is more subtle.
“One last question before we leave, I am always looking for ways to improve myself & my personal brand. You have had the opportunity to interview me and learn about me. I am interested in your feedback. Would you mind telling me what I did well, and what I can improve?”
This is a subtle (and sneaky) way to gauge their interest. This is also less intrusive. People like to give feedback. They will tell you what you did well, and what you could improve.
The way they answer this question will give you a clear idea of whether you will proceed to the next step or not. If you are not the right candidate, it is better to know now – so you can move on.
Always end the job interview well, with gratitude for their time and the opportunity to interview.
I hope the above tips were insightful. Many of the tips might be common advice you would have come across, some are unique. I have used all the above tips to help me with my Job Interviews.
I encourage you to use them for your next job interview. I am curious to know how you did use these tips. I want to hear your feedback on how successful the interview was.
All the best for your Job Interview!!!