Your resume got you in the door, now what? Interviewing requires thoughtful preparation. Winging it simply won’t work. Follow these steps to improve your odds of getting an offer.
1. Know when the interview begins. The interview begins with the first contact you make with a company representative. This could be the administrative assistant who schedules your interview or the receptionist at the front lobby. Each will be evaluating you. Sometimes you may not even know when the interview begins. Take Elysa Rice for example, who landed a job after tweeting during a panel at the South By Southwest conference. A week after the conference she received a message via LinkedIn asking if she’d be interested in interviewing for an open Community Manager position. After agreeing to the interview, she learned the interviewer discovered her via her Twitter conversations at the conference. He spent a few days viewing her online engagement skills related to the job he was hiring her for. So, essentially Rice was being ‘interviewed’ before she even knew about the position.
2. Do your homework. With so much information available on the internet, there is no excuse for not being fully informed about what the company does, the markets it serves and its competition. Check out Google Blog Search to find out what is trending about the company. Review Glassdoor, which has over 270,000 company reviews and 13,000 interview reviews and questions. Use LinkedIn to ‘follow’ your company and gain access to profiles of people who have previously worked for the company. These folks are much more likely to be candid about their experience than a current employee. Contact them for insider information before your interview.
3. Analyze the job description. Identify key requirements including skills and competencies, and build your accomplishment stories around these to demonstrate why you are the best fit for the job. Your stories should be structured around the C. A. R. format. C.A.R. stands for: Challenge, Action, Result. What challenge or problem were you faced with? What action steps or decisions did you make? What were the results? The results should be quantifiable showing how you made or saved the company money; or how you expanded the business. CAR stories should include specific examples.
4. Pay attention to body language. 80% of our communication is non-verbal. How you say it can actually have more of an impact than what you say in an interview. Things like hand gestures, tone of voice, eye contact and facial expression can either make or break an interview. Pacing your interviewer is a good idea so your body language does not overpower theirs. This is particularly important if you ‘talk with your hands’. Introverts who have difficulty making eye contact should look their interviewer in the eyes when beginning a point; then, look just below the eyes or to one side of the nose. Then finish by looking the person in the eyes again at the end of their statement.
5. Always follow up. Following up is not only the polite thing to do; it shows your interest and gives you another chance to market yourself. Perhaps there was a point you forgot to make during your interview or an interview question you could have answered differently. The follow up note is the perfect place to address such things. Email is acceptable. A hand written note is best depending on time constraints.
Remember interviewing is an art not a science. It is highly subjective. You may be the best fit technically for the job but if you cannot connect with the person on the other side of the desk, your interview will have been in vain. Establishing rapport is a key component of a successful interview. Good Luck! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.