A guy with paperclips in the place of buttons. The woman in the furry suit (covered in dog hair). The cocky go-getter. The all-too-comfortable “people person.” The desperate “yes” woman.
Do you know these people? I do. I’ve interviewed them all, and not for entry level positions but for high level and management positions. You may be thinking, well, I don’t have a dog and all my shirts have buttons so I’ll never be “that guy.” Hear me out.
I’ve interviewed hundreds of people in my career. As VP of an international recruiting firm I interviewed lawyers, recruiters, account executives and managers.
The interview process is confusing and stressful for even the most polished and qualified person. The goal is not just to be prepared but to make an impact. These insider tips will have them begging for more.
1. Be The Part
You’ve heard to dress the part which seems simple enough, right? But this may not be enough.
The interviewer should be able to envision you in the job from the moment you meet.
For example, a black suit may not be the best option if you’re interviewing at a graphic design firm. While it might feel safe, this choice can show how out-of-touch you are with the vibe of the office.
This is not about being attractive, it’s about presenting a persona that will fit into the work environment of the company.
While I adamantly oppose changing yourself for a job, taking style cues from the company to make a good impression is a strong move.
If you need to do some recon, call the receptionist or ask the person that schedules your interview about the dress code and culture.
2. Dig For Real Information
While the interview is a great place to learn about company culture and objectives, you should already have an idea of what those are.
There’s more to you than what’s on your resume. In the same way, there’s more to a company than their website.
Check out the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages. What do they talk about? What do they promote or ask about? What is it they seem to care about? Use those clues to have a real dialogue. It’s attractive to the interviewer to have an honest and engaging conversation with a prospective employee.
I also like when someone has checked out LinkedIn to see if anyone in their network has worked for the company. If you can reference something you’ve heard firsthand, it’s a good sign you’ve used your networking skills and know what you’re in for should you get hired.
Here’s a gold star tip: most companies, especially those that are publicly traded, will have corporate presentations published regularly to their websites (check out the investor relations section). These will outline where the company’s headed and their areas of focus in real time.
3. Ask The Right Questions
An interview is not like a test; the interviewer will tell you what he or she wants to hear if you ask the right questions. And in this case, there is such thing as a wrong question.
Most interviews allow for Q&A. Remember that the interviewer isn’t there to be peppered with questions so you should only ask 3.
The best are:
- Why is this position open? Is it due to the success or failure of the person before you? This will give you great insight as to their expectations.
- What does success in this role look like? Again, knowing what expect is paramount.
- What is your focus, goal, or trouble area right now?
The interviewer’s answers to these questions will give you the insight you need to show how you’re the perfect person for the job. Which brings us to…
4. Prove You’re The Solution They’ve Been Hoping For
Use the answers to the questions above to formulate how YOU are the person for the job. What do they need? Can you solve that for them with your skills or your desire to fill that hole? If yes, say so.
The truth is, all interviewers really care about one thing: what you can do for them.
He or she is thinking: Will you make my life easier? Are you worth the investment in money and time?
In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg talks about Lori Goler, now VP of HR and Recruiting for Facebook, who got the job when she asked “What is your biggest problem and can I help solve it?” Her biggest problem was recruiting. Although Lori had no recruiting experience, she was able to tweak her “pitch” to fit the problem she could help solve. Case closed.
The ultimate decision will be if you can help the company reach their goals. Your skill set and experiences are a small piece of the puzzle. Your career hopes and dreams aren’t even a piece (at least not yet). Harsh but true.
5. Make It Clear You’re “In”
If you know definitively this is where you want to work and can see yourself killing it in this job, come out with it. This isn’t a date and playing hard to get will backfire.
Good follow-up is a skill necessary for almost every position. This is an easy way to showcase it through action. While a thank you note is a nice gesture, if it doesn’t articulate you want the job, it’s useless.
The dream scenario is to have your pick of great career opportunities. The best advice is to truly consider if you want this job, not if you can get it.
As a competitive person myself, I understand how landing a job is a challenge you can’t help but win. But in the end, it has to be a good match and should be looked at objectively.
Take the time to consider if this job is a good fit for the experience you want to gain, the results you can bring, and the lifestyle you want to live. If you decide it is, these 5 tips will have them right where you want them.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What are your best tips to getting the interviewer begging you to take the job?
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