Your resume may be excellent and you may have the necessary experience required for the position, but it is the person-to-person contact with recruiters that makes or breaks your chances of getting your desired position.
You only have one chance to make the right impression. Here is what you can do to significantly improve your chances of a successful job interview, becoming a perfect candidate whom recruiters will never forget (and for the right reasons only!).
Prepare your mindset
You can prepare for some commonly asked questions, such as “What can you tell me about yourself?” and “Where do you see yourself in a few years?” but keep in mind that every job interview is different. You will never be fully prepared for every question recruiters may possibly ask. It is more helpful to prepare your mindset. Think carefully about how to answer questions.
When answering questions, you can’t afford to go off-topic and ramble. Your answers should be succinct and to the point. The more you ramble, the less likely you are to find your way back. You also risk giving away too much information.
You should always feel free to ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question. Otherwise, you are in danger of completely missing out on what the interviewer was trying to find out.
Always be honest and authentic – lying is likely to backfire on you and you are not expected to know everything.
What are interviewers really looking for in an interview? They want to know more about you. If you just give clichéd answers to commonly asked questions, they won’t learn anything about the real you.
This is why it helps to share examples when answering questions. Giving examples shows that you have dealt with similar situations in the past and your examples are more likely to make you memorable than anything else you say.
It can hurt you not to ask any questions in an interview. It may be seen as a sign that you are not really invested in getting the job. Try to think about questions you could ask that will reveal your expertise to the interviewer. Asking generic questions simply reveals that you didn’t prepare properly or that you lack listening skills.
Be proactive and resourceful
Preparing for a job interview takes more than merely skimming through the job description. After all, if you claim to be interested in a job, and yet you don’t know much about the role you’re applied for and less about the company, you will never be any recruiting team’s number one choice (if at all).
Check these resources for more information about the company:
- Virtually all companies today have websites where you can find information about their vision, mission, values, and culture.
- A great resource for finding out more about a company is Glassdoor. Information you will find includes history, employee reviews, salaries, interview questions, etc.
- Social media is another avenue to find information about a company. Become a follower on Twitter or Facebook to learn more about a company and how they relate to customers.
- Conducting a search on LinkedIn for employees can also offer a rich source of insights. You may even find the person who used to hold the position you’re applying for. You will get a feel for the corporate culture of the company and what it’s like to work there.
- Check your college alumni database to see if any fellow alums work or have worked at the company. They are more likely to respond to a request for answers to some questions.
Gauge the tone of the interview
Pay attention to the tone recruiters used to address you in correspondence, as well as the tone the organization uses for their online presence. If they are formal and professional, don’t try to be “the fun guy” (at least not until you test the waters).
It is obviously a bad idea to go into a creative start-up dressed in an elegant three-piece suit, or wear a washed-out T-shirt and jeans for an interview at a corporate office.
Everything about you, from the way you enter a room to the way you shake hands, sends certain signals to the interviewer and can influence their attitude towards you. This is why it’s crucial to mind your attire and set the right tone from the start.
Establish rapport with the interviewer
Make sure you give yourself ample time to make it to the interview so you’re not flustered when you go in. If you’re calm, you will be ready to give your full attention to the interviewer without any distractions and pick up on cues that could help you to establish rapport.
Instead of thinking about yourself, take time to ask yourself about what the interviewer is looking for and what the ideal candidate may look like in their eyes. See the interview as a dialogue instead of an interrogation and don’t put the interviewer on a pedestal as it can cause you to freeze up.
Interviewers don’t want to waste their time speaking to boring candidates who are not prepared and don’t show respect. Work on being confident without coming off as self-centered. Nobody likes a narcissist who believes they’re a heaven-sent gift to the company they’re taking an interest in.
Be prepared to sell yourself
A job interview is a situation where you’re ultimately asked to sell your experience and professional skills. To do that successfully, you will need more than a fancy resume and an expensive suit.
You should be very straight about what you can do for the company and your expertise will be reflected in the smart questions you ask.
You can’t think of the job interview as a passive experience where the interviewer asks you questions and if you answer well, you will get the job. Merely listing your capabilities is hardly likely to impress the interviewer. Think of the interview rather as a chance to have a conversation where you will be able to convey how your skills and experience will come into play to make a real contribution to the company.
Demonstrate how you skillfully solved problems in the past by bringing up situations when it was up to you (or you willingly stepped in) to solve an issue, keep a difficult client cooperative, or manage a complex project and successfully complete it.
Telling a fun or a relatable professional story about yourself can make an impression on the interviewer and help you to stand out from the other candidates.
Follow up after the interview
Don’t overlook how important following up after an interview is. You can differentiate yourself from other candidates with the simple act of following up with a thank you email.
Preparing for a job interview is one of the crucial aspects of your job application process, and it’s essential to get it right. Although it’s undoubtedly going to take some time, it’s going to be very worth your while.
Recruiters respect and reward candidates who are experienced, approachable, confident, and have done their “homework” well in advance. To command respect from others, you must first feel it for yourself. Stay true to yourself and your values, and show appreciation for the opportunity you’ve been given.