So you’ve managed to work your way to the interview stage. Score!
Be sure to seal the deal by actively researching the company and company culture beforehand, don’t just ‘show up’ and hope for the best. Remember that the position is open to many, your goal is to be the undisputed first choice candidate, to leave a great impression and set yourself apart from the pack.
To get there, do your interview research. Try to understand what a company looks for in their most qualified candidates. Is it skills? Education? Work experience? Personality? Longevity? Don’t just be prepared to answer the interview questions well, set yourself apart from other applicants by demonstrating a solid understanding of the type of person the company is most likely to hire and how you could best assume that profile. Seek insight as to company culture and values and align them with your own by understanding their mission statement and core values, companywide achievements, charitable or altruistic endeavors, and the messages the company sends via their PR efforts. Sites like Linkedin and Glassdoor can give a brief insight into the overall pluses and minuses of the corporate culture, and following a company’s social media is great for reviewing their positives. Leverage your recruiters, friends, peers and social networks to gain insight into the inner workings of the company. Regardless if the interview is a first-round phone screen with HR or a final on-site with the hiring manager, take control by being well-educated, prepared to prove why you should be their first choice.
We can honestly say, having interviewed thousands of people and assisted with client/candidate interactions as recruiters for thousands more, that nothing is a bigger disappointment than when someone interviews and demonstrates little knowledge or interest in the hiring company. Coming across as just needing a job is never going to land you on the short list.
Here’s a simplified sports analogy to clarify:
You are watching the Super Bowl with someone who has never seen, nor has any interest in the game or its rules. They choose the Jets over the Patriots because ‘they have nicer green jerseys.’
As a fan of the game, you’ve put blood sweat and tears into your team – someone without a demonstrated commitment probably won’t rank highly in your dugout. Their analysis of an umpire’s bad call will have little influence on your own perceptions of the game.
This little illustration is here to remind us that perception is reality. If you perceive yourself as already successful in the role come interview time, you will project confidence and understanding of the commitment you are about to make and develop a connection/rapport with the hiring team. By educating yourself and doing your research, you are one step closer to assuming the role in which you are interviewing.
So do yourself a huge favor and be sure to do your homework before you interview. Set yourself apart from the competition by showing interest in, enthusiasm toward, and knowledge of the company that hopefully will soon be preparing an offer letter – with your name on it!