Winning the interview: It’s not always the best person for the job who actually gets the job – it is the person who gives the best interview.
A common misconception when heading into a job interview is that this is your chance to impress and win the job. Wrong. The hiring manager already likes what they see from your resume, and this is the first opportunity for them to meet you and ensure you are what you say you are. The interview is your great opportunity to lose the job.
Getting a recruiter can help bring focus to what’s key and help you decipher what to leave out. They can provide advice to help you make it to the next interview and eventually the job.
Get to know everything there is to know about the company. The Internet is an incredible tool and source of information -- utilize it well. Read up on the company website, reviews, news articles, and direct competitors. This will arm you with the ability to demonstrate your knowledge and enthusiasm to join the company. For example, don’t say “tell me about your product”, rather “I noticed your company won the XYZ award, can you tell me about that?”
Not knowing about a company in the interview can give the impression you are not really interested and may be a signal as to how you approach your work.
Your interview begins the second you arrive in the building, so make sure it’s a good one. Be on time, know who you are meeting with, dress appropriately, and don’t forget open body language. A smile shows the employer that you are open and friendly - use it.
Always go into the interview prepared with the common questions. “What are your best and worst qualities?” or “Tell me about a challenge you faced in the past with a co-worker?” or “Tell me about yourself”. The interviewer is trying to get a sense of who you are and how you approach your work. You should also be able to answer any questions relating to your career history including months employed, reasons for leaving, projects, size of teams, etc. Be honest and genuine, the interviewer will see through a false or embellished answer.
As much as you are putting your best face forward and marketing yourself, make sure the interviewer see’s the real you. Much of your success in landing a new job will be dependent upon your fit within the company culture. Overconfidence or lack thereof could be the deciding factor between you and the next candidate who may not have the same experience, but had a more genuine rapport with the interviewer.
Have a list of questions prepared that will help you establish if it is a good career move for you. Ask questions about the work involved, potential projects, team dynamics and future opportunities. Try to engage in the interviewer's flow and ask questions as they relate the topic at hand. A free flowing conversation is far more pleasing than a stilted and interrupted one.
There will be a time to speak frankly or as a friend to your new employer and your peers, but this isn’t it. Demonstrate that you’re serious about this role and show some etiquette – use your manners including please & thank you, be respectful of their time, and refer to each person by their name. Know the culture before the interview and dress accordingly. If you aren’t sure, play it safe and wear a suit.
Do not ask about salary, benefits, office hours, or being able to work remotely. Raising these topics can be very jarring and leave a poor impression. To oversimplify, the interviewers are ready to talk about the job and the company – ideally they are excited about the role and the company. Your response of how much will you pay me or how many hours do I need to work, does not set a good tone. These are things you need to know before you accept an offer, but they are not what you should be prioritizing. Once you have decided it is the right role and company, then consider these factors. Never raise them in the interview – the interviewers will raise the topic of compensation and other conditions of employment at the appropriate time in their process.
When it comes to your personal life, keep it that way. The interviewer hasn’t asked you in to discuss your impending nuptials or your new kitten. Keep it professional and don’t ramble. Keep your answers succinct and directly focused on the questions asked.
Even if you couldn’t stand your last boss or you hated the job, don’t talk about it. It’s a smaller world than we think, and you don’t know who the interviewer knows. Negative comments about previous jobs or co-workers is a warning sign to the interviewer who may wonder what you might say about them. If faced with this, simply focus on the lessons learnt from previous challenges.
Regardless of whether you feel you messed up an interview or you aced it, always follow up with a telephone call, email or better yet, a thank you card. This will ensure they remember you and provides you with another opportunity to reiterate your enthusiasm for the role and company.
Remember, the interviewer is not there to scare you or trick you. They want you to be the best fit for the job, because it means they can stop looking. Keep in mind this advice when preparing for the job interview and you will get that second interview or land the job.
More expert advice about Finding a New Job
Photo Credits: Interview by Flickr: Alan Cleaver; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com