1. Research Earnings Calls, Quarterly Reports & Blog Posts
In today’s world, content is king. Goldman Sachs publishes quarterly reports, Microsoft records its earning calls, and every startup has a blog.
With so much out there, I’m baffled that few of us look past the company’s homepage. It’s like we’re writing an essay on The Odyssey without quoting a single passage from the book.
Example: If you’re interviewing with Google, here’s two ways to answer: “What’s Google’s biggest opportunity in the next 5 years?”
- Weak: “I think wearable technology will be big because Google Glass and Apple Watch represent a new trend that shows…”
- Strong: “Call me geeky, but I was listening to Google’s quarterly earnings call and was blown away by the fact that display advertising hit over $5 billion in the past few years. Therefore, I think that…”
Neither answer is wrong, but the latter says much more. It shows you’ve done your homework and give answers rooted in data.
2. Review Common Interview Questions and Prepare Responses
Another key to interview success is preparing responses to expected interview questions. First, inquire as to the type of interview to expect (which you can do by asking your contact person at the organization). Your goal is composing detailed yet concise responses, focusing on specific examples and accomplishments. A good tool for remembering your responses is to put them into story form that you can tell in the interview. No need to memorize responses (in fact, it’s best not to), but at least develop talking points.
3. Look the part
Dress for success! At an interview it is extremely important to look, act and dress professionally as you won’t have a second chance at making a good first impression. Ideally, a business suit should be worn. Clean shoes, clean finger nails and clean well groomed hair are important. If wearing a black or very dark suit, make sure there is no dandruff or specks of fluff on the shoulder.
We can’t overemphasise how important first impressions are. Research has shown that an interviewer has made an impression within the first eight seconds of meeting the person. The remainder of the interview is spent confirming this opinion, or turning this opinion around.
4. Make Good First Impressions — to Everyone You Encounter
A cardinal rule of interviewing: Be polite and offer warm greetings to everyone you meet — from parking attendant or receptionist to the hiring manager. Employers often are curious how job applicants treat staff members — and your job offer could easily be derailed if you’re rude or arrogant to any of the staff.
When it’s time for the interview, keep in mind that first impressions — the ones interviewers make in the first few seconds of greeting you — can make or break an interview. Make a strong first impression by dressing well, arriving early, and when greeting your interviewer, stand, smile, make eye contact, and offer a firm (neither limp and nor bone-crushing) handshake.
Remember that having a positive attitude and expressing enthusiasm for the job and employer are vital in the initial stages of the interview; studies show that hiring managers make critical decisions about job applicants in the first 20 minutes of the interview.
5. Ask Insightful Questions
Studies continually show that employers make a judgment about an applicant’s interest in the job by whether or not the interviewee asks questions. Thus, even if the hiring manager was thorough in his or her discussions about the job opening and what is expected, you must ask a few questions.
The smart job-seeker prepares questions to ask days before the interview, adding any additional queries that might arise from the interview.
6. Sell Yourself Throughout and then Close the Deal
An adage in interviewing says the most qualified applicant is not always the one who is hired — which means the hired candidate is often the job-seeker who does the best job in responding to interview questions and showcasing his or her fit with the job, department, and organization.
Some liken the job interview to a sales call. You are the salesperson — and the product you are selling to the employer is your ability to fill the organization’s needs, solve its problems, propel its success.
Finally, as the interview winds down, ask about the next steps in the process and the timetable the employer expects to use to make a decision about the position. If you are applying for a sales job — or a position requiring equivalent aggressiveness — consider asking for the job at the end of the interview.
7. Email a Personalized Thank You Note
Thank your interviewer within 24 hours of finishing. It not only shows your gratitude, it also combats recency bias if you interviewed early. Not to mention, it opens the door for dialogue even if you don’t get the job. Sometimes, recruiters reach back out on the same email thread months later, mentioning new job opportunities.