Interviewing is something we will all do at some point in our lives. We may be interviewing for that great job or interviewing to be accepted into that great country club. We may also be the person conducting the actual interview; however, that topic will be covered in a separate article. I have been in management for over 25 years, and I have interviewed hundreds of potential employees at all levels from entry level sales people to executive level managers. However, in each situation there are some basic principals that can set you apart from the others right from the very beginning. There are many, many tips that I could offer to you. Here are four suggestions that could make a big difference when interviewing for that dream job you have always wanted.
First, always remember that any interview should be a two way interview. You are trying to decide is this the right job for me and the hiring manager is trying to decide are you the best person for the job. Never be afraid to ask questions about what will be expected of you. The interview should be a conversation about the job, the company, and how your skills and experience would add value to the position and the company. The interviews that I remember are those where I was able to have a relaxed conversation about the candidate’s skills and experience. Interviews where I had to pull information out of the candidate seemed more uncomfortable and more like an interrogation rather than a conversation. These types of interviews rarely led to a job offer, even if they had more experience as I could not see dealing with this person on a daily basis.
Second, remember you are going on an interview and not to a hockey game. Dress appropriately, even if it is business casual. I am still amazed at how some candidates show up for interviews these days wearing jeans, sneakers, T-shirts and so on. Many companies have business casual and some allow jeans and sneaker. However, you do not have the job yet. Show respect to the company by dressing appropriately.
I like to start off my interview with a very simple question that will immediately tell me if this person is a serious candidate or just shopping for a new job. I always ask the following: “Tell me what you know about our company and the job you are interviewing for”. If they did not do their homework or if they say, well, that is why I am here, to learn about your company, then I am immediately turned off. My time is valuable and with all the resources available to candidates today (Hoovers, Red Books, general search engines, etc.) there is no reason why candidates should not be prepared. My third tip is always do your homework before going on the interview. This will help you can have an intelligent conversation with the interviewer. They will also see that you cared enough to spend time researching the company and the job. This sends a clear message to the interviewer that you are serious and conscientious.
Finally, be yourself, relax, and tell the truth about your skills and experience. Nothing will promote more disappointment than being hired only to be let go in a short period of time when the company finds out you exaggerated information about your skills or experience.