Congratulations! You’ve been plastering the town with your resume, printing out copies until the guy at Kinko’s knows your name, and finally, you've gotten a nibble. A recruiter has reached out to you and your interview is scheduled for Monday. The stakes are high and the rewards are material – so iron your shirt, take deep breaths, and read on. I’ll take you through some sure-fire interview tips to make sure you totally crush it.
Don’t show up to battle without armor...
And don’t show up to interviews without facts. Interviews, specifically a phone screen, are very common. Recruiters have thousands of resumes and hundreds of interviews. You’ll want to spend a good amount of time preparing, but bear in mind that for the recruiter, you’re only a half hour timeslot in a jam-packed day. They already know what they’re going to ask and what sort of responses they’re looking for. So if you’re flummoxed by basic questions like, “Why do you want to work here?” You’ve got a long way to go.
Sites like Glassdoor offer breakdowns of the interview process for many different companies. This blog reviews some of the zanier types of questions you might get asked, as well as ways to field them. But as with most things, the big secret is to focus on the fundamentals: why you’re a good fit; what you bring to the role; and why you want to join this company specifically.
The Perfect Candidate – Made, Not Born
It’s not uncommon for positions to have a laundry list of qualifications – 10+ years’ experience, an MBA from a top program, professional certifications, etc. But positions often have “softer” qualifications as well – team player, enthusiastic, hard worker, etc. Even if you don’t have all the “hard” qualifications, don’t despair. Recruiters are people too, and a personable, engaging interview can do wonders for your candidacy.
“The key is tailoring your answers to fit the position.”
Use the interview to highlight experiences that showcase the talents they’re looking for. Find out what the company culture is like and incorporate that into your answers. They value collaboration? Talk about the time you stayed late to help a coworker finish a project when he or she got behind. They want a go-getter? Show them the interactive presentation you made outside of work to help close that deal before year-end. The key is tailoring your answers to fit with the company culture and the position’s description. Very few candidates will tick all the boxes a recruiter wants, but if you tick yours empathetically, you can quickly move to the top of the heap.
Questions – You’re Expected To Have Them
Presuming it’s gone well, every interview ends the same way: before the handshake, the recruiter will ask if you have any questions. It’s a bit of a formality, because if you want your resume to stay out of the trashcan, the answer is always “yes.”
Interviews can be stressful, and even if prolonging it is the last thing you want, you have to finish strong. The hard part is behind you; all you need to do now is pose a few insightful questions and you can round off a dynamite interview.
- The obvious first choice for questions is anything that hasn’t been covered yet. These can relate to responsibilities, culture, company values, work environment, etc. – anything except compensation (ClearCompany CEO Andre Lavoie noted how this can be an instant turnoff).
- If you feel that’s been pretty well canvassed already, you’ll need to get more creative. “What drew you personally to work here?” and “Where do you see the company going in [time period]?” These are examples of great wrap-up questions. The first question lets the interviewer talk a little bit about themself and the second shows long-term interest, a great sign that you’re committed to sticking around.
- Feel free to use the answers you receive to reinforce how you’re a great fit for the company. For example, if the recruiter discusses the tight-knit culture, you can mention the value you place on an environment that’s both collaborative and friendly.
- Worthwhile questions can reasonably be bounced back to the recruiter: “Why should I work here?” “Where do you see my career progressing in 5 years?” “What happens if a recession hits and how do you plan to adapt?”
The question portion is a chance to clarify what you’ve understood so far, underscore the value of your candidacy, and connect with the interviewer on a human level – all essential for landing the offer.
The interview can be tough – you’ll need to be on your A game and work hard to sell yourself and your qualifications. With the tips above, you’ll be prepped, ready, and fully equipped to ace your job interview.