While a strong resume or portfolio can get you one step closer to your dream position, it’s the ensuing interview process that really helps hiring managers and recruiters determine whether or not you are the right fit. Preparing for a job interview usually requires more than simply researching a company’s products or services.
First of all, what do recruiters look for when interviewing candidates? According to Nicholls’s State University, a professional appearance, great communication skills, the right qualifications, and knowledge of the company and industry are key ingredients to a successful interview. Here are some key ingredients to help you stand out from other candidates during — and after — an interview. We have also put together a suite of tools and resources to help job seekers with the recruiting and hiring process.
1. Research the position and the company
Learning as much as you can about the company and position will go a long way during the interview. Interviewers are busy people, and they are often required to go through many resumes and conduct multiple interviews every day. Doing your research beforehand will save both you and your interviewer time during the interview. How long has this company been in business? What do they do or make? What is their mission statement? Do you know anyone who currently works there who could give you pointers as to what they look for in candidates? Some of this information can often be found online or by requesting printed materials or a brochure about the company.
2. Practice before the interview
It is common practice for artists to rehearse before an event or concert. This is just as valid for a job interview. Practice makes perfect, as they say. A simple way to get some practice under your belt is to do a mock interview. In order to do this, all you really need is a basic outline of an interview, and a camera. Filming yourself answering questions and talking about yourself, your skills, strengths, and interests, will help tremendously in finding flaws in your answers as well as getting more comfortable with the whole interview process.
3. Dress appropriately
First impressions matter — no secrets there. How you should dress for an interview depends greatly on the industry and the position you are applying for. Dressing appropriately indicates you are taking the opportunity seriously and you care about making a good impression. When in doubt, this article from CNBC mentions that in most industries, dressing appropriately communicates that you have respect for the interviewer. This can go a long way and make you stand out from other candidates.
4. Play your strengths, tell a story
All of us have strengths — and an interview is the perfect occasion to show your interviewer that you will be a strong asset to their company.”What are your strengths?” is a question that you will inevitably have to answer during an interview. Creating a list of skills and strengths, while useful, might not help your storytelling during an interview. Instead of answering your interviewer with a long and boring list of your strengths and work experience, why not focus on your achievements and tell a story? Interviewers are interested in hearing about situations where you thrive and are able to achieve great results — or show ambition and self-motivation. A good and honest story might be easier to relate to for the person interviewing you.
5. Be prepared for unusual questions
Hiring managers and interviewers are increasingly looking for unusual job interview questions. This is not necessarily meant to trick you, but rather help them understand how you react in unusual and sometimes uncomfortable situations. You should be able to answer the age-old “what makes you the most qualified candidate for this job?” type of questions. But be prepared for some unusual questions such as the ones listed in this article on About.com. Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer questions. This will not only help you better understand the position, but showing interest and being motivated are personality traits that recruiters and interviewers often look for in a candidate.
6. Always follow-up and ask for feedback
Whether you get the position or not, sending a thank you note is always a nice gesture, and it is now considered common practice in most industries. In the event you did not land the job, this is the perfect opportunity to ask for feedback as well. This is how you will improve and perform better at your next job interview. Receiving criticism might not be the most fun experience, but as you get more comfortable with the interview process — and ultimately land your dream job — negative feedback will eventually turn into more positive input from interviewers.