Interviewing : What You Need to Know to Land the Job You Want

May 20, 2020
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You’ve done all the work to line up your next big interview. The timing is just right, and the opportunity seems amazing, but there are some steps you can take to make your chances of landing the job even better. It’s all about preparation. By putting in a little extra work upfront, you can have more control over your performance and end up with the offer you’re hoping for!

 

First Things First – Do Your Homework
 

What you will want to start with is learning as much as you can about the company, the industry, your interviewers, and anything else.  You’ll be looking to answer things like: What are the company’s values? What skills and experiences do they consider important? There’s obviously more to this opportunity than what’s written into the job spec, and you can usually get good info through internet searches or even by tapping into your personal network.


There are definitely more things to consider though! You can check places like LinkedIn to identify and research the people that work there. Pay extra attention to what the leaders, founders, or owners may say. They often have a lot of content out there, and they set the tone for the entire company. You can also research recent news. Have there been any important events like mergers, changes, or other interesting stories? Those are wonderful talking points, and if these are current events, they’re certainly on the mind of everyone at the company.


Depending on the company, you will also do yourself a favor by checking out who their clients or customers are. What products do they offer?  How about services? The most important thing here is finding out how they’re making money.  Now you can come up with ideas on how to boost that bottom line! And lastly, let’s not forget there are plenty of review sites. Take what you read for what it’s worth (this is the internet after all), but there’s info that can give insight on process, culture, and a bunch of other things an interviewer might not readily share.

Don’t Be Late!


As a recruiter, I spend a lot of time working on details and logistics when I prep my candidates. There’s no better way of ruining a first impression than by being late or being perceived as unprepared. Sure, things can happen, but you have a lot of control over this part.


You MUST know when the interview starts, the phone numbers to call, the video meeting links, or the directions to the office. No excuses! So look these up beforehand and confirm with your contacts. Arriving 10-15 minutes early is still standard for in-person interviews. Some places are tricky to get to so prepare for potential transit issues.


Phone (and video interviews which are fast becoming the norm today), technical interviews, in-person interviews each have different considerations. Make sure you are preparing yourself respectively for the type of interview.


Know the proper attire. By all means, ask if you don’t know! Don’t assume you know the appropriate attire just because you’re familiar with the company. Dress for the job you want and err on the side of more formal.  You can take off your tie if it’s not necessary for business professional, but you can’t change your jeans into dress pants if it’s more formal than you anticipated!  In the end, this is all common sense. And always feel comfortable asking your contacts for more details. They want you to succeed and have a good experience.

 

Know YOUR Story


Your goal is for the interviewers to want to hire you. They need to see the value that you would bring to the organization, so being able to articulate clearly and concisely what you have to offer is vital.


Take some notes from our Careerwell resume writing/ branding area. What you’ll want to prepare is a quick elevator pitch or story for yourself. My recommendation is to limit it to 60 seconds max because you want to keep the flow conversation moving.  Make sure to keep it highly targeted to the job you’re interviewing for, so review the research you did earlier to highlight your most relevant skills and experiences.


Hiring managers want to know about your achievements in past and current roles. They want to know how YOU directly resulted in progress, transformation, revenue, sales, growth, etc. I really like the STAR Method for this.  It offers up a nice template and often helps people add some structure to their responses.  

 

You Can Know What They’ll Ask Before They Ask It!


This is all about practice. Yes, I’m talking about PRACTICE!  Take a quick look at our content on Mock Interviews and Careerwell Interview Tips for some reasons why.


Here we’ve compiled some of the most common interview questions our hiring managers ask. 

Often in 30-60-minute interviews, you’ll have a lot to cover, so it pays to anticipate and come up with answers for a good amount of these. It’s easy and improves the way you form your specific responses. Also – many of the people talking to or meeting you are NOT professional interviewers and very likely may pull interview questions from the internet just like this!


Another idea is to give a deeper look at the job descriptions. Take some time to think about (or even better, write down on paper) some kind of example, accomplishment, or success story for every bullet point on there. Think of it as your checklist to complete.  
 

Now It’s Your Turn to Ask the Tough Questions


As much as the company is interviewing you, you’re also interviewing them. Good questions often show how engaged you are, and on the opposite end – if you don’t ask smart questions it can leave a perception that you’re not interested.  Unpreparedness is a major red flag, and that won’t help you land the job!


What I like to recommend is to find out what the big challenges are for the people you are talking to.  What’s giving them trouble or keeping them up at night? You might be able to fix it!  Why do they like working there? These types of questions can show you’re really interested in the role and the company. This part is also a great time to ask about some of the other ways you can grow or develop your skills to the benefit of the company. Is there any training or education available? In the end, use good judgment. Show that you’re truly interested in learning more about what’s offered, but keep your attention aimed at what’s in it for the company, not just yourself.

 

What’s Next? The Follow Up


How’d you do? Feeling good about it? It’s only natural to be excited about what comes next, so feel free to ask about the next steps of the process. You can even ask how they plan or prefer to follow up. It’s realistic for the timelines and expectations to be shared. If you can, get contact info from your interviewer (business cards, email addresses) as it can allow you the option to keep the lines of communication open. If you are working with a recruiter like me, some of us may prefer to guide these interactions. Remember, we’re your advocate, and the perk here is that it both gets your communication shared with the interviewers but gives us a further touchpoint to interact with our clients.


Here’s another big one - never skip an opportunity to send a Thank You note. Again, it gives you another touchpoint, keeps you visible to a hiring manager, and repeats your interest in the role. If you have further portfolios or samples, this is a good time to share. It’s a classic interview move, and it’s never gone out of style!


For Thank You notes and emails, clear and concise does well here too. My quick template looks like this:
Thanks for meeting me for XXX role. I enjoyed talking with you all (use specific names). I can bring value to XXX company by doing XXX.  Hope to hear back!


Certainly, you can add more detail and add your voice and personality to it, but this is a tried and true guide. We feel it is best to send the Thank You note within a reasonable time following an interview, usually within one day (because it’s easy to write an email!!!) Should you want to take it to another level, something meaningful, heartfelt, targeted (handwritten if you have time) may help too. You’re a unique candidate, use this as another opportunity to stand out.


Also consider – by NOT sending one, there can be a perception of lack of interest.  We want to avoid that for sure!!

 

You’ve Put in the Work, Now Reap the Rewards


The extra effort you put in to prepare for interviews can without a doubt tip the scales in your favor. When timing and opportunity align, these are the things that make a difference. With resources like Careerwell, you can round out your skills as an interviewee to come through when it matters.


Interest and enthusiasm obviously count, but when people put in the effort to prepare, a person’s confidence level grows. When you’re confident, you perform better, and when you perform better, you are more likely to win over your interviewers.  Interviews are meant to test you, so having more control over what you know and can talk about gives you the advantage you need to succeed!
 

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