How To "Kill It" at Your Next Job Interview
Lately I have dealt with some good candidates who end up interviewing badly. What gives? They have the smarts, education, technical/sales knowledge, and most importantly, the experience. Yet, they fail to connect with the hiring manager or convince the company that they should be their next hire. This can happen for a few reasons:
- Sometimes the person hasn’t interviewed in several years, and their interview style is a bit lackluster.
- In other cases, which I see more in junior people, the candidate is just plain nervous. (Nerves are totally normal because it shows that the person cares and is excited about the job opportunity.)
The hard truth is that not everyone who wants the job will get the job ... Here are some basic pointers for these two types of people I mentioned, or anyone really, so you can present your best self and land the job you’re truly excited for….
Aim to connect, not to impress.
I’ve seen many times where candidates that are qualified for the job end up blowing it because their thought process is, “I need to blow this person away with how great I am.” You should aim to connect with interviewers, more than impressing them. I think first interview success is more about how the interviewer feels about you, as opposed to how well you can do the job. Don’t get me wrong, if it is for a sales job they will also measure you by how well you can sell yourself, but try to look at it more as a conversation, not selling time.
- Come prepared to discuss trends in the industry, be sincere with your answers, listen well, and come off as authentic. This will lead to stronger rapport with the hiring manager and put you on the right path to getting an offer.
Communication is key
I think that most times during an interview hiring managers are judging less of what you say, but more how you say it… First impressions are key, and especially if it’s a phone interview, verbal communication is all you’ve got.
Are you coming off as polished and confident? Or are you scatterbrained, in-concise or verbose? I’ve seen many people that have the right qualifications not get the job because they do not clearly convey the linkage between their experience and what the company is looking for from a candidate.
Research, research, and more research
It is so true that the more you prepare for an interview the less anxious and nervous you’ll be. By learning all about the company, you allow yourself to prepare on what they are looking for. On first interviews, hiring managers will be measuring if you’ll be a cultural match, so do some prep work on what the company’s culture and mission are, along with their values. You’ll go into the interview confident knowing that if they ask you a question about their company you’ll have an idea of the answer they’re looking for.
- Check out the company's website, including their social media pages.
- Look on the Glassdoor interview section
- Reach out to anyone you know who has/had any association with the company.
- Also, don’t forget your best resource, your recruiter… don’t be shy about asking them everything they know about the company and hiring manager.
Back up your answers with real-life examples
One of the biggest complaints made by hiring managers is when candidates seem “all talk.” I’ve gotten feedback from companies that the candidate answered the questions perfectly, but failed to back their answers with real-life examples. This becomes a red flag because companies do not want to put their time, energy, money and resources into a bad hire. So remember to be specific.
- So, you are great with overcoming adversity–how exactly?
- Come to an interview with an example of a specific project or situation that went south and what you did to recover from it. Walk through what your mindset was in overcoming it, and if you can, give metrics of what the outcome was.
Ask questions to set yourself apart
While candidates are the ones being officially interviewed, they are also assessing their potential future employer. I always remind my candidates that they should ultimately ask questions centered around if they want the job or not. Most of the time hiring managers already have their minds made up about you by the end of the interview. When it’s time for any last questions, this can be your chance to make a memorable impression.
Think of a question that they probably haven’t heard of before, or that challenges them to think differently.
- One I always like to suggest is, “What is one of the biggest problems facing your company and if hired, how could I help solve that problem?”
So remember all these tips, but most importantly, remember to take a deep breath and be yourself. If you bomb an interview and aren’t selected to move forward to the next step, don’t beat yourself up. Pick yourself up and learn from your failure- so you can kill it at your next interview!
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