You can read as much information on interviewing as you like and almost all will all say the same thing – dress the part, brush your teeth, sit up straight, leave the personal stuff out, be ready for behavioral based questions, and on and on. While those are all important we wanted to share some of the little things that can really make or break your chances.
Setting the interview time. This might seem like a no-brainer – some company calls you and wants to talk so you make yourself completely open to whatever they want, right? Take a look at the following and decide.
Your phone rings, you pick it up, and a nice voice on the other ends says, “This is Jane/John Doe with Acme Corp. You sent your résumé to us for a (fill in the blank) position that we have open and we would like to speak with you about that opportunity. When might you be available for an in-person interview?”
You have two options here:
- You: “I am open anytime; when are you available?.”
Them: “What about Thursday at nine or Friday at eleven?”
You look our calendar, see nothing there and say: “I am open to either – let me know what works better for you.”
- You:“I am particulary excited about this opportunity and am looking forward to speaking with you, when are you all available?”
Them: “What about Thursday at nine or Friday at eleven?”
You look at your calendar, see nothing there and say: “My schedule is pretty busy this week but I can rearrange a couple of things and be there Friday at eleven. Look forward to meeting you!”
In the first scenario you point out the fact that you and Oprah are best friends (not good) while in the second you give the impression that you are in demand, even though you might not be. Remeber, perception is everything.
Bring the right tools. Here are several things that you can bring with you to an interview to help your chances of standing out in good way –
- A strong knowledge of the company including their history, mission/vision statement, leadership, products and services offered, competition, and what makes them unique.
- A strong knowledge of who you are interviewing with. Search them out on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo and blogs to try to understand their background and interests.
- A strong knowledge of the position. I would know their job-description back and forth, look up similar job-descriptions from others companies, and try to find the LinkedIn profile of people who have worked for that company in a similar capacity or people who have worked for a competitor in a similar role.
- Several copies of your résumé printed on a neutral colored, 32lb., watermarked paper with the typeset and watermark facing the same direction and having the same orientation. Makes it look like you pay attention to details.
- Examples of your successes at your previous jobs.
- Ten specific, concrete reasons why that company should hire you right on the spot. If you don’t have them, someone else will.
- Ten specific, concrete reasons why you want to work for that company.
The interview starts as soon as you can see the building and doesn’t end until you cannot see the building anymore.The last thing you need while in the interview process is for the hiring manager to see you in the parking lot (or down the road) running stop signs, scratching your backside, or getting dressed. Remember – the interview starts BEFORE you step into the office.
Arrive at the right time. I have seen people arrive for interviews 30 minutes early and 30 minutes late – neither are good. It is always a good idea to step foot into the waiting room five minutes before your scheduled time (unless otherwise instructed) because that shows you are responsible and respectful of their time without appearing desperate or giving you too much time to disrupt the receptionist or give him/her a reason not to like you.
Get your pronunciation right. Make sure you understand how to pronounce the name of everyone you are meeting with. I have seen people not move forward in the interview process because of their inability to pronounce a recruiters/hiring managers name right.
Is that right? Not at all. Does it happen? Most certainly.
Know who the power players are. Receptionists and assistants hold more weight than you think. Treat them bad, don’t engage them, engage them too much, or act inappropriately in front of them and it can kill your chances.
Expect the unexpected. Sometimes interviews will take an unusual twist or turn so be ready for them, particularly in the questions that get asked. Be ready, don’t stress, and roll with the punches.
Ask the right questions. Asking the right questions at the end of an interview can really help you gauge the quality of the company, how you did, and where you stand. Here are a few of my favorites –
- Why did you decide to come work for (fill in the blank)?
- What three things would you change about the work environment here?
- How do you see my candidacy for this opportunity?
- What skills, experiences am I lacking to perform this job successfully?
- What does your ideal candidate look like?
- What is the next step in the process?
Show interest. I have seen many a people lose an opportunity because they did not come out and say, “I am interested” even if they were. You don’t have to do a song and dance to show them, just tell them before you leave the interview, “I am definitely interested in this opportunity, think I would be a great fit, and look forward to moving forward in the process.”
Follow-up. Everyone, including the receptionists, assistants, the guy who offered you coffee, and the people you interviewed with have earned the right to get a hand-written thank you note from you. It will set you apart, I promise.
Interviewing is an acquired skills – no one is born being good at it. From your experiences both as an interviewer and interviewee what things would you add to this list? What little things have you seen and done that have helped your chances in an interview?