In today’s economy quality jobs remain limited. Job hunters spend several months seeking employment, without being invited to interview. When the opportunity arrives, candidates must be prepared, because hiring managers usually offer jobs to candidates who interview exceptionally well.
The best candidates exhibit five characteristics – preparation, practice, professionalism, personal selling, and gratitude. First, if a recruitment agency assisted in obtaining the interview, contact them to inquire about the company. If the company utilized agency services before, they may possess valuable information from past interactions. Otherwise, research company history, products and services, financials, employee benefits, and other relevant topics.
Second, practice for the interview. Write potential questions the employer will probably ask about experience, professional accomplishments, and work habits. Audibly ask and answer each question. Answers should be automatic and flow naturally. Responses must be well thought out and fully answer the question, yet remain concise. Achieve this by using a short paragraph structure, consisting of an introductory sentence, 2 – 4 sentences containing specific details, and a final summary statement.
Arrive on time and dressed appropriately. Drive to the location the day before the interview to gain familiarity with the directions and travel time needed. Plan accordingly to allow for travel delays. On the day of the interview, arrive 7 – 10 minutes in advance. More than ten minutes symbolizes desperation and feels awkward, particularly if the waiting area is quiet and slow. Less than five minutes makes candidates appear disorganized and unprepared. Please note, arrival times are often reported to the interviewer. Also, wear appropriate attire for the position. For example, a shirt and tie or a business casual dress may be appropriate for banking jobs, yet a suit will make a better impression for accounting jobs, a finance manager, or a sales manager. Dress the part to get the part. Professionalism is pivotal.
Once in the interview, exercise personal selling. Interviewers often have pre-defined lists of questions or topics to cover, and intend to ask several questions. Their goal is to evaluate experience, skills, and overall qualifications, while obtaining answers to every question. Providing brief yet informative responses demonstrates professionalism and enhances the perception of personal productivity. Listen carefully to each question, pause briefly to formulate an answer, and respond in the short paragraph form practiced earlier. Emphasize previous accomplishments and their impact, rather than actual tasks performed. Also, incorporate relevant facts learned during the research phase. Personal selling and practice pay dividends in interviews.
Finally, obtain a business card or email address from the interviewer. Send them an email the same evening, but after business hours, thanking them for taking their time. Sending it after hours increases the probability it will be one of the first emails reviewed the following day, while the interview is still fresh in their mind. Use email whenever possible because it arrives immediately and is more technologically relevant than sending a thank you card. If not possible, send a thank you card immediately. Less than 1% of candidates send post-interview correspondence, so this singular action makes candidates memorable.
By focusing on these key characteristics, candidates tend to perform significantly better during interviews. The preparation stages keep candidates focused on the goal, and dramatically improve overall interview performance. The email correspondence closes the loop and lets the interviewer know the candidate truly wants the job. Now, get the interview and get the job.
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