No matter how tight the marketplace is, when you are interviewing for a job you’re up against stiff competition. Always put your best foot forward.
Even if you’re not certain that this is the perfect job for you, if you’re taking the time to interview for a position, maximize your impact. Some people make the mistake of thinking that their resume will “speak for itself”, but the reality is that you are the one responsible for bringing that document to life and engaging the interviewer. We know many instances when a candidate interviewed, did well, didn’t end up pursuing the job, but benefited from the connection they made during the interview. Approach every interview as if it is for a job you really want.
Here’s our “Take Five” on how to impress the interviewer:
Results, Results, Results – Companies are interested in results. What was the business problem, how did you solve it and what were the results? If it’s on your resume, you better be prepared to talk about the results in detail no matter how old it is. Candidates sometimes shoot themselves in the foot by discussing their philosophy of growing a business, rather than focusing on the far more powerful examples of how they have successfully done it in the past.
Tell the Story Well - When discussing how you grew a business, make the story interesting. Talk about the market conditions at the time, what your competitors were doing and what you were up against, and why the business was suffering. Then talk about the epiphany that led to the solution. A cautionary note: watch the “I’s” when telling the story. No one succeeds alone. Most companies are looking for people who are successful in a collaborative environment.
Prepare – Know the company you are interviewing with and what issues they are facing. Make the connection between your experience and their business problems. The more direct, the better. If you are changing industries, you will have to demonstrate how your skills are transferable. With all the information available on the Internet, you should be able to find all the pertinent information on the company’s key business issues
Enthusiasm – Don’t hold back your enthusiasm for round two because there may not be one. This is one of the most common mistakes that candidates make, believing that they are “buying” as well as “selling” and forgetting that the focus for them should be on “selling”. Be prepared to sell yourself. Interviewing is a lot like dating. You want to feel like that person is interested in you. The more you can convey your enthusiasm for the company and the opportunity, the greater the likelihood they will ask you back.
Listen – Listening is crucial to a good interview. Another common mistake candidates make is to go into an interview determined to make a point of something they think will be relevant. In an hour interview, you don’t want to waste time discussing things that aren’t germane. Answering what is being asked is the best way to be relevant. Don’t give a preamble to the answer – “before I answer that let me tell you this”. Importantly, when the interviewer thanks you for your time, recognize that the interview is over. Don’t prolong the interview by giving your final thoughts.
Just like dating, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Use your time wisely and make them want to ask you back for a second “date”.