Recruiters and hiring managers have seen every trick and gimmick in the book when it comes to interviews. Sometimes they work – but when it comes down to it, whether you’re wearing purple stilettos stilettos or looking the interviewer in the eye, it’s the content of the interview that matters in the long run.
1. Know your experience:
It’s amazing how many people stumble over what should be the easiest questions – you’re just talking about yourself! Look over your resume as you prep for the interview. Think about some of the most important projects you’ve worked on, what you liked and didn’t like about each job, and acknowledge some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced – and how you overcame them – in each role. Be ready to explain any “sketchy” details – leaving a job without another one lined up, gaps in work history, etc. You’ll have an easier time explaining and applying your experience when you know the basics like the back of your hand.
2. Know the impact that your experience:
One of the best ways to impress a recruiter is to quantify the impact you had in previous roles. Recruiters want to hear about what you’ve done and how you did it, but understanding the big picture and the impact of your work is also important. Be prepared to answer questions about outcomes – maybe a monetary savings, increasing efficiency, or an improved customer experience – and how your work played a role. Sharing outcomes lets the recruiter know that you’re able to follow a project through from start to finish and understand the big picture.
3. Apply your past experience to the job you’re interviewing for:
Take the challenges and outcomes you’ve already discussed and apply them to the role you’re interviewing for. It’s great to know what you’ve done, but applying that to what the company is currently doing is what will land you the job. Mention specific goals this position is intended to meet or qualities the organization is seeking (you can glean this information from the job posting as well as the initial phone screen) and discuss how you can use your skills to meet those requirements.
4. Have a conversation:
More often than not recruiters expect candidates to do most of the talking in the interview, but in a perfect world, the interview would be a conversation between both parties – after all, you’re both trying to figure out if you’re right for each other. Find something in common with the interviewer, and do your research on the organization to come armed with the information you need. Straight Q&A sessions can get pretty boring for recruiters, so you’ll stand out if you can get the recruiter engaged in the conversation.
5. Ask the right questions:
Keep the conversation flowing by asking questions that add value to the interview. Interview questions like these are great to ask in an early interview (i.e., your phone screening with a recruiter), but they don’t add a lot of value to the conversation in further rounds. Your interview questions should align more closely with what you already know about the job, and highlight the skills that you bring to the table.
6. Talk about the organization’s culture, and how you fit:
Most organizations showcase their culture via their website or social media. Do they post funny sayings, or pictures of community events? Or do they stick strictly to product offerings and marketing communications? Investigate these sites thoroughly before your interview to get a sense of how casual or formal you will be expected to operate both in the interview and if you get the job. By better understanding the organization’s culture, you’ll be able to provide better examples of how you’ll be a fit for their team. Company culture questions like these are a great way to bring this up in the interview.
7. Send a thoughtful follow-up note after your interview:
Pick out the most important points from your interview – whether it was something new you learned about the organization, a conversation topic where you really hit it off with the team, or a particular skill you might have forgotten to elaborate on – and send a short follow up within a day of your interview. You can use this note to remind them why you’re the best candidate for the role – based on your experience and your knowledge – not on tricks and gimmicks. Click here for tips and examples on how to write a job interview thank you letter.