Congratulations! You landed an interview for your dream job. Before you head out the door, you put on your favorite suit, print fresh copies of your updated resume and quickly skim the job posting as a refresher. While your polished, professional appearance may make for a good first impression, are you fully prepared to prove that you’re the best candidate for the job?
As a recruiter, I work with candidates daily to help them best prepare for their interviews. Beyond the interview must-haves—dress professionally, arrive on time—I encourage candidates to put in the additional time and effort to fully understand the company, position and how their individual skillsets will be beneficial to the company. Here are five key interview tips for job candidates:
1. Do your research.
To gain a thorough understanding of the company and its work culture, talk to employees, explore the website and review their social media outlets like LinkedIn, Facebook or Glass Door. Not only will you become more knowledgeable about the company’s goals and positioning, but you will be better prepared to speak about how your experience, career ambitions and personality fit with what the company values.
If possible, try to find out who will be interviewing you. Research the interviewer’s current position, job responsibilities and background to identify areas of commonality or objection. In some instances, you may come across an interviewer with a drastically different career background and may not fully understand the position’s necessity or how your skills will benefit the company’s objectives.
2. Understand the job.
Early on in the interview, try to identify the company’s most immediate problem and how the role you are interviewing for can solve the issue. If you can identify their pain point, you will be able to focus how you answer the interview questions.
Whether it is strategic direction, increased bandwidth or advanced software knowledge, knowing what their needs are can play into your favor. Pinpoint how someone in this position will fulfill the void, and make a list of ways you can meet this important requirement. Throughout the interview, revert back to these points to show how your background and skillset will alleviate specific issues or accomplish a specific task.
Also, make the interview about THEM! When interviewing with multiple people, each one may be affected differently by this position, so ask individually ask the interviewers how your position can benefit their specific needs.
3. Share “mini” stories about your career.
With a thorough understanding of the company and the position, take a look back at your career and come up with 3-4 mini-stories that illustrate your relevant work experience. You will want these on hand for open-ended interview questions. While one story may answer multiple questions, it is important to highlight different examples to filly showcase your skillset. Employers do not just want to hear that you have done something. They want to know how you did it.
Also, you may encounter a hiring manager or interviewer who does not dig deep enough. Never give just “yes” or “no” answers. Relate back your mini stories and do not be afraid to ask the interviewer if you can elaborate or provide more detail.
4. Ask good questions.
Focus on questions that showcase the research you did and express an interest in the company and the position. A lack of questions can by interpreted by the interviewer as disinterest or even overconfidence. To take your interview deeper and stand out from the competition, come to the interview with pre-written questions.
Another good question is: “Can you describe your ideal candidate?” This type of question gives the interviewer an opportunity to share his or her personal interpretation of the position and the type of person who will best fill the role.
Most importantly, do not forget to close the interview by asking, “Do you have any concerns about my career background or skills?” You will be able to reaffirm your qualifications or interject essential information that you did not have a chance to cover earlier in the interview. Also, make sure to express your interest in the role and moving to next steps in the process. Many candidates think that their presence at the interview implies interest. Your enthusiasm (not desperation) for the role may be what differentiates you from a candidate with similar qualifications and experience.
As a job seeker, keep these interview tips in mind when preparing for your next interview. Through a comprehensive understanding of the business and available job, you will be able to position your experience and skills to best match the company’s immediate needs.