How can I be successful in an interview?
Google this question and you get 18,700,000 results in ½ a second. That’ almost as many results as when you search for “best cat videos?”
But while a cat video is fun, it will not land you a job. What will greatly improve your odds of being selected during a face to face interview is preparation.
Now I know that is very wide open, so let’s narrow it down to 12 things to prepare so you will be successful in an interview.
- Research the industry and company. As many times as this is said, statistics show that 50% of applicants do not do this.
- Know what makes you the best candidate. At National Career Fair events, you would be surprised at how many people I speak with who do not have a clear message to deliver about their value. They focus on “any job” vs. “this job.” This type of thinking makes it hard to stand out.
- Prepare for basic interview questions. Do not be afraid of rehearsing some of your answers. It builds confidence and allows you to think about how you are presenting your message, instead of what the message is. So, review the many, many lists out there and decide which questions your interviewer will most likely ask.
- Prepare your questions ahead of time. You should bring at least two questions with you. You should also ask permission at the beginning of the interview to take notes. That way, you can come up with two more questions. And you will have notes for your thank you card and any follow up emails.
- Bring extra copies of your resume. Do not assume that the interviewer will have a copy. Have three or four extras in case you are invited to meet and speak with others in the organization. Put them in a blue folder.
- 38% of all candidates are eliminated after the interview because of a lack of smiling and engagement during the interview. A positive attitude and showing you are excited while listening demonstrates your skills in this area and gives the Hiring Manager a positive picture of you fitting into their culture.
- Build trust by maintaining eye contact. People who have strong eye contact are perceived as being more persuasive, a valuable skill in any company. 67% of hiring managers say they have eliminated candidates because they failed to make enough eye contact.
- Turn off your cell phone and arrive early. I would go as far as to say leave the phone in the car. Even on vibrate, it is a distraction. A call from a friend asking how it is going is not as important as staying engaged with the Hiring manager. And while arriving early is good, make it just five to 10 minutes early. Go into ½ hour early is as awkward as arriving 20 minutes late.
- Do not slouch. I know your Mother has said this to you, but it makes a difference. 33% of hiring managers have eliminated candidates because of bad posture. Even waiting in the lobby, be aware of how your posture looks to others. The person walking by may be a decision maker.
- The interview starts when you leave the house. It is probably an urban myth about the applicant who is late for the interview and cuts off a car at an intersection, only to find herself sitting in front of that person later for the interview. And remember, the receptionist may have more pull with the Boss or Hiring Manager than anyone else in the building.
- Ask about the next steps and get permission to follow up. If you are interested in the position and it looks like a good fit for you, find out where they are in the process and when will you hear more? Make sure you ask permission to follow up at a certain point. Many candidates will not follow up because they feel funny about doing it or do not know when.
- If you want the job, say so! If by the end of the conversation, you are still excited about the company and the job, make sure they know it. Never leave this to chance.
These are the starting points for how to be successful in an interview. Some of these will be no-brainers to you, while you might be hearing some of these for the first time. If I could offer one more piece of advice, it would be to take a minute after you leave and are down the street, to make a few notes. Write down the things you nailed, the questions you can learn more about and include in your thank you notes, and anything that caught you eye about the company, the culture, and those in the building.
Prepare, prepare, prepare, and you will be sitting in your new hire orientation sooner.