A resume gets you an interview. Your references and skills back up what a great fit you are for the position.
The interview is what gets you the job.
On the top of it, that sounds like a lot of pressure: it’s do-or-die time at the job interview! But let us reassure you: it’s not that hard to ace a job interview. It’s truly not, especially if you look at in two ways:
- It’s the place where you can show a hiring manager what you’ve got.
- Remember that it’s also your time to check the company out to decide if it would be a good match for you.
Strategies that Can Help a Hiring Manager Say “When Can You Start?”
While we really do believe that job interviews can be enjoyable, the best interviews take a lot of preparation up front (they take some effort, in other words). Remind yourself: no winging it at a job interview. Never.
Instead, a key factor in getting a job offer is to make sure you take the time needed to do the following:
- Research the company. A ton. As in considerable research.
We told you good job interviews come about because of effort on your part. And most of that effort occurs long before you shake hands with the hiring manager. As soon as you set a date for an in-person meeting – or even “just” a phone interview – it’s time to crack open the Internet and get studying!
Visit the company’s website and read all of it, if possible. Every last page. Read its blog. Read the bios of its executives. If it’s a publically traded company, check out its Investor Relations tab and read all of the company’s latest financial statements, especially its SEC filings. (These are goldmines, especially the quarterly reports – often called 10Qs – because they report in great detail what the company did that quarter, and what its plans are for the future. SEC filings are better than reading the company’s annual report because they are detailed and gloss over – spin – nothing.)
Studying these reports gives you great insights into a company’s goals, successes and challenges. What’s more, just watch – really, watch! – the hiring manager’s eyes get big with excitement when you say “I read your latest quarterly report about your acquisition of XYZ company. I have two years’ experience with acquisition accounting procedures. Let me tell you about improvements I made for my current employer’s latest acquisition.”
The idea behind this research is not to do the minimal and call it a day. Really dig into the meat of a company’s website, reports, etc. Look for news releases. Google it and see what gossip comes up.
If you know the hiring manager’s name, check her out on LinkedIn (after all, she undoubtedly took a look at your profile). Find out what you have in common and learn about her work experience, education and skill sets.
The more you know about a company the better. It truly will impress your interviewer and will allow you to talk intelligently and strategically about how your background and skills will help the company reach its goals.
- Practice the interview with a trusted friend, family member or mentor.
Practice can be especially helpful if this is your first job interview, if you’ve been on just a few or if this is an interview for your first “real” job after high school or college.
Google “typical interview questions in XX ” (human resources, manufacturing, marketing, banking, etc.), print them out and prepare for them. Ask your friend to play the interviewer and ask the questions. Practice asking some questions yourself. Practice answering the questions as asked and then moving them slightly so that you can talk about how your skills and background specifically apply: “I want to work in your medical office because I understand you are expanding and I’d love to help you create efficient patient in-take systems, thus helping you see patients more quickly and cutting down on their wait time. At my last employer I was able to revise the in-patient process such that ….”
You may think that having the interviewer do most of the talking is a good thing (less pressure!), but you want to be sure you are able to tell the employer why hiring you benefits her.
- Make a strong, positive first impression.
For good or for ill, the first seconds of a job interview can make or break the interview. Even the very first second. You need to make sure yours is the best it can be. Look the hiring manager straight in the eye as you approach with your arm outstretched to shake hands. Shake firmly, but don’t crush her hand. Wait to sit down until invited to. Call the interviewer Ms. or Mr. unless told otherwise.
Wear business-type attire, even if you’re looking for work in a warehouse setting. If this is so, khaki slacks and a collared, long-sleeved shirt should suffice (no sneakers, and if you really want to impress, you might wear a tie and a jacket, although they are not necessary). Any office job requires a tie and jacket for men. At least a dress and jacket/dress pants and a blouse for women. If going for any type of professional position, suits for both men and women are appropriate.
Dull and boring? Perhaps. But you’re not there to show off your creative side (unless you work in marketing, and you can save the creative outfits for once you get the job). Yes, most offices are business casual today. But you want to come across as a serious candidate, and one to be taken seriously. It’s always best to overdress than under dress for a job interview.
If you’ve never been to the company before, if possible, make a trip before the interview to see how long it will take you to drive or take the bus: you don’t want to be a minute late, and if you find you will be, call and let the interviewer know.
Here at Helpmates, we want you to get the job and we’ll do all we can to help you land a great one. Contact the Helpmates office nearest you today.