Feeling nervous before a big interview is normal. Whether it is your first or your 50th, it can be a challenge to feel prepared and confident. As a recruiter, it is my job to conduct interviews all day long. I’ve been a part of the good, the bad, and the down-right cringe-worthy. But, interviews don’t have to be scary! I’ve put together my top six tips for crushing that interview!
1. Know the Company
• Nothing is worse than when I ask a candidate if they have any questions prior to the start of an interview and I receive, “Can you tell me about your company?” Instantly, a red flag goes up in my head. When you have reached an interview stage you should have a general idea about what the company does. It is ok to have specific questions about how the company operates or what their business model is like, but don’t just ask the blanketed question. It shows you didn’t do your research, or even worse, that you have applied to so many jobs you can’t keep them straight.
• Go into the interview knowing: what the company does, the mission statement, the company values, and the industry this company is in. Just focus on the basics.
2. Know why are you are there
• This is such a basic question that I think is over-looked. It is important to know why you are interviewing with this company, and more specifically, this job. “I want a new challenge” or “I’m looking to grow my skills” simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Come into the interview with a genuine reason as to why you are the best solution for this company and what specifically makes that the case.
• Be honest! Hiring managers and recruiters can tell when you are not being fully transparent and eventually the truth will come out. If you are miserable at your current company and are desperate to leave (we have all been there) you need to communicate that.
• And lastly, show some excitement and passion about the position! The company is dedicating a lot of time, money, and resources into the hiring process- show that you understand that and you too are investing in this process.
3. Prepare for the Interview Questions
• You know the tough questions are coming – so plan ahead. Prior to an interview, I recommend writing down five work experiences that stick out to you in your mind. What was good? What was bad? What did you learn? Employers want to know about the times you messed up (mistakes happen every day- it’s ok!). They also want to see how you handled that stressful situation and how you have adjusted your process going forward. No one expects perfection, but self-awareness and accountability are two major factors being determined by these questions.
• When addressing a negative situation, (e.g. “Tell me about someone you didn’t get along with at a past job”) don’t get too caught up in the details. The truth is, we don’t really want to hear why Karen constantly complained to you in the break room. What we really want to hear is that there are things that you don’t love in the workplace, but you don’t let that affect you. You are able to brush off the politics and not add to the drama. Keep it light. Always explain what you learned from that experience and how it has positively impacted your behavior.
• An interview is not just about a company determining if they want to hire you, but it is also a time for you to determine if you want to work with them. It is important to actively listen when the hiring manager is explaining the position and the culture of the company. I also recommend writing down a list of “must haves” and “nice to haves” prior to the interview. Listen for those key words. If you hear them, great! You can check that off the list. If not, it presents a good opportunity for you to ask about that later.
• Take notes! Your mind is spinning a hundred miles a second during this interview. If you try recalling small details and specific situations, odds are you are going to forget some of the valuable information that is being shared with you. Taking notes also shows the hiring team that you are really interested about what they have to say.
• It is also common to think of some questions you want to ask while in the interview. Jot them down right away so that at the end, when it is your time to ask the questions, you don’t forget what you had wanted to cover earlier.
5. Ask Good Questions
• At the end of the interview, you will be asked, “What questions do you have for us?” You NEED to have questions. You are being tested to see how much you prepared for the interview, how well you listened during the interview, and it shows what is really important to you. Don’t ask about the benefits and PTO. That shows the hiring team that you are probably less interested in the job and more interested in the perks. (Ask the recruiter these questions — that is what we are there for!)
• I always recommend some of the following questions:
i. What challenges will the position bring?
ii. What does success look like in this role?
iii. Why is the position open?
iv. How will the role contribute to the overall success of the organization?
• Again – take notes! That shows these are really important questions to you and you are not just asking them for the sake of asking.
• The amount of times I have received a hand-written “Thank You” card are few – but it sure stands out! It shows that you are thoughtful and detail oriented.
• I also understand you are going to want feedback or an answer right away – that is not likely to happen. Give the hiring team some time to make their decision. You don’t want to change their perception of you by consistently calling and emailing asking for an update.
If you practice these six tips, I’m sure you will crush that next interview. Who knows, it just might be your dream job!
About the Author
MacKenzie Porwell, Corporate Recruiter