Congratulations! You got an interview. Now is your chance to distinguish yourself from other candidates and secure a job offer. Here are some relatively simple things you can do before and during to make sure you stand out. And if you are just starting your search – you will want to check out these resume tips.
- Prior to arriving to the interview, gather as much information as possible about the company, the position and the people you are interviewing. A business owner wants to know that you are interested in what they do and that you’ve done your homework. At the very least you should visit (and read) the company’s website so that you know what the company does and who the main players are. If possible, find out who you will be interviewing with and learn something about them. The easiest way to uncover this information is to ask whoever calls you to schedule the interview.
- Utilize your network of contacts to find out even more about the company. Do you know anybody who works or has worked for the company? Do they have any information on current initiatives or any big changes happening? Do they know anything about what the hiring manager is looking for in a new employee? What is the dress code and what type of culture does the company have? It is in your best interest to walk into the interview with as much knowledge about the job and the company as possible. You can use this information to tailor your responses in a way that will make sense or speak to the needs of the organization and to formulate relevant and knowledgeable questions. You will also want to heed any information you find out about the dress code. Make sure you dress the part!
- During the interview make sure you call out your accomplishments. Even though you spent a lot of time carefully spelling them out on your resume, don’t take for granted that the person or people conducting the interview are familiar with your accomplishments. It’s important to take into account that many companies use their Human Resources department to screen resumes and assist in the process of selecting candidates. This could literally be the first time one or more of your interviewers has seen your resume. And even if they did read it don’t assume that the interviewer remembers what it says. Lead with examples of how you went above and beyond and tie them to how they will help you succeed in the position for which you are interviewing.
- Spell out how your accomplishments were tied to your employer’s success. How you state your accomplishments is important and should be compelling. You may think that a project was “just doing your job” but if it saved the company time and/or money, you will want to find a way to highlight this important result. For example, one woman I spoke with told me about a time that she decided to double check her company’s I-9 files to make certain that they would be compliant in the event of an audit. She found and corrected errors in the files and thought very little of it. To her it was just part of her regular duties. When the company did in fact get audited a few months later, they passed with flying colors. Her work on the I-9 file that day saved the company time (they were prepared for the audit) and money as they did not incur any fines as a result of missing paperwork. This is an important example to call out during an interview.
- Another important strategy during an interview is to ask thoughtful questions that show that you understand your goal, which is overall, how to affect the bottom line of the company.
- How is the department organized?
- What does success look like?
- How will we measure success or know when we’ve achieved it.
- Are you seeing the return on investment you hoped for?
Tips for when you are Working with a Staffing Agency
If you are working with a staffing agency you are in a unique situation. You are in a sense applying to two companies at once, but you also have the advantage of having access to someone who has inside information into the company you are ultimately applying to work in. Use your contact at the staffing agency! Ask questions to help you determine what to expect from your relationship with them and also about what to expect from each company you interview with. For instance, how often should you follow up with your contact? There is a fine line between showing your interest in the company by following up and becoming a pest. You can easily ask your contact at the agency for guidance about how often to follow up with him or her as well as the company you just interviewed with. It is likely that it is similar for the staffing agency and other potential employers.
What are some of your interviewing strategies? How do you insure that you are putting your best foot forward and being noticed during an interview? Please leave us your comments or send us an email.