Spring is a great time to make changes and that includes a job change. The economy is getting better and better and I’m seeing a lot more job postings out there. Here are some tips for making sure you are a stand-out candidate who gets the job offer.
Do your research on the organization. Look at the company’s profile on LinkedIn to see some of the employees, who has been hired or left the company, and any company information. Look at the LinkedIn profile of the person you’re interviewing with. Hopefully you can see at least where they worked and went to school — great fodder for small talk.
Look at the company website to see if they post news releases or announce company news. The more you know about the company and the person you’re meeting with the more impressive you’ll be when you ask informed questions.
Even if the company is very informal, wear business attire. That’s a suit and tie for men and a pant or skirt suit for women with understated jewelry. That said, if it’s a casual hi-tech firm, you can lose the suit and tie, but a jacket and nice slacks for men and a nice shirt with a sweater or jacket with dress pants or a skirt for women is appropriate.
Be at least five minutes early to the interview. When I worked in the corporate world, if someone was late to the interview without a good excuse they would not get the job.
Silence your phone and never answer it. At my last job, a manager interviewed someone who answered his phone three times during the interview and said “it’s important” each time. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job.
Be friendly and nice to the receptionist. She or he may be a great help to you and can provide information about the company.
Give the person interviewing you a firm handshake accompanied by eye contact the entire time you shake hands.
Once escorted into the interview room, wait to be told where to sit down. If you are a man, leave your jacket on even if the interviewer is dressed more casually or takes his or her jacket off. If your jacket is buttoned, unbutton it before sitting down.
Never say anything negative about previous employers. Even if the interviewer sounds sympathetic it will reflect very negatively on you. Focus only on the positive about a former employer.
When asked the question, “tell us about yourself” avoid rambling about the past. Instead speak to the jobs or experiences that would apply to the position you’re interviewing for.
Avoid looking nervous by fidgeting or playing with your hair, jewelry, a pen, etc. Keep your hands still on the table or on your lap.
If the interview is conducted over a meal don’t order anything messy. Take small bites so that you can easily answer questions without a mouth full of food. Never order an alcoholic drink even if the interviewer does.
Have a list of questions about the company, the position, the manager and the hiring process (number of candidates, when they hope to make a decision, etc.). I am always impressed by a candidate who asks well informed, thoughtful questions.
Send a handwritten thank you note within 24 hours after the interview unless it is a hi-tech firm. If it’s a hi-tech firm send a prompt email. People who work in that industry usually don’t check their snail mail boxes. In the thank you note or email, state how interested you are in the job and the company, a sentence about what you have to offer the company and sign it “Sincerely” and your name.
If someone helped you get the interview, send them a handwritten thank you note as well. And if you get the job, take them out to lunch or dinner to celebrate.
Good luck with the interview. I know you will knock their socks off.
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