4 Tips for Nailing Your Interview
Get that callback with some of these tips for standing out in the interview process.
Interviews are nerve-wracking. Trying to sell yourself as someone who can potentially sell a company’s products — whether the products are from retail or other customer services — is enough to rattle anyone’s self-esteem.
During my past interviews, there are a few tricks I’ve used to be certain I’m a candidate that the employers remember. These have resulted in callbacks and hires — including my current job, where the second interview was skipped entirely in favor of hiring me — and I’m hoping these tricks can help others.
Gone are the days of our grandparents where all one had to do was walk up to an establishment and inquire about a job. With today’s technology, this is rather outdated. Indeed, the vast majority of companies would prefer for applicants to submit resumes and cover letters electronically. By doing so, companies are saving themselves time and energy by allowing computers to filter out resumes that they would not fit the company. Computer algorithms scan the documents for key words and phrases that may or may not result in a resume landing on a recruiter’s desk.
Despite how outdated this method is, there is some merit to it. Meeting a manager and other employees face-to-face grant managers a memory to your name when they scan through resumes. Humans are social creatures, after all. They’re more apt to trust an applicant if they’ve met before, however briefly, than the other strangers’ that bring up a blank mental image.
A simple way to use this trick is to visit the company after submitting your resume and cover letter online. Depending on the turnaround time the company stated regarding interviews, wait a day or two before going to introduce yourself. Following up with your resume, being sure that it was received, while being a pleasant visitor will make you stand out. It may also be the catalyst to a manager actively seeking out your resume in the slush pile, even if the computer algorithm had deemed it unworthy.
Another version of this trick is knowing someone in the company itself. While that may seem like “cheating,” an insider in the company that trusts you enough to vouch for your excellent skills plays the same role as you introducing yourself to the company. You become more of a tangible person in the recruiter’s mind rather than just a name on a screen.
So, you got the initial call for a first interview and you’re left waiting a few minutes before the recruiting manager comes along to start the process. Imagine that the waiting room is a reception area, complete with a secretary or clerk doing their own thing.
Those other employees are part of the interview process as well. While they work, they are in a prime spot to see how you fare with waiting. They’ll note how relaxed you are, how nervous you seem, whether you greeted them with a smile or ignored them completely. Does your patience allow you to sit still while waiting, or were you fidgeting the entire time you were seated? Were you annoyed enough with the wait to huff under your breath here or there?
When the recruiting manager does appear, be sure to straighten up but be relaxed and approachable. When the recruiter does appear, give a smile, eye contact, and a firm handshake when greeting them. It may sound like common sense, but many forget that the initial greeting is just as much a part of the interview as the questions are.
Your body language can be very telling to how you’ll react to unfamiliar scenarios. While everyone wants their work day to run smoothly, that is not the nature of the world. Challenges and unexpected issues can and will arise, and companies get an idea as to how you would react to those based on how well you conduct yourself while waiting and during the interview process.
How you carry yourself is something to keep in mind as soon as you step through the door to the company. Even if you’re waiting in a room by yourself, note that most buildings have cameras trained on all areas.
In an interview, the job seeker answers the recruiting manager’s questions. These answers help the recruiting manager picture if the job seeker would be an ideal fit for the company based not only on the responses but also on how the job seeker holds themselves. Job seekers should answer these questions honestly but with a clear indication that research on the company was done, emphasizing what skills and strengths they can bring to the table due to their experience.
When a recruiting manager is finished asking questions, that means they have decided they have enough information to determine whether or not you will fit in with the company. Usually, the recruiter will then turn the tables on the job seeker, asking if they have any questions in return. Asking questions is one of the last opportunities for the job seeker to stay in the forefront of the recruiter’s mind.
Aside from more specific questions regarding the company and what went on in the interview for clarity’s sake, here are my top three questions to ask the recruiting manager at the end of the interview:
- What is a typical day like for [the interviewed position/role]?
- Is there anything about my resume in particular that I can clarify further?
- Is there anything about my answers or resume that would make you hesitate in hiring me?
Asking a question or two indicates a higher interest in the company, shows initiative during the interview process, and displays a willingness to learn from and accept feedback. Speaking up at the end of the interview may mean the difference between yourself and a candidate who considered the interview finished when the recruiter’s questions stopped.
Send a Thank You
Thank you letters are common courtesy in regards to gifts from birthdays and weddings, but did you know that you should also thank your interviewers? Sending a small handwritten note, a quick email, or even a public thank you on professional social media sites like LinkedIn can do wonders in being sure that the interviewers remember your face over the other candidates.
A thank you note also shows you as more approachable, humble, and a team player. Thanking the recruiter for their time and acknowledging their own skills adds extra points to your personal interview.
The key takeaway from these tips is to stay in the recruiter’s mind. Combined with a dash of confidence and a brushed-up resume, these tips are designed to help you be more memorable over the typical candidate.