Building a company from the ground up means that over the last two decades I have personally hired hundreds of people and interviewed thousands. The ability to bring in the right people is a skill that can make or break your company.
However, what if you are on the other end of that interview table. You may find yourself wondering:
- What are some ways that you can set yourself apart from the other candidates?
- How can you emphasize your strengths without appearing arrogant?
- How can you show personality without talking too much?
Here are some tips on how to improve your interview skills that I’ve gathered from the thousands of candidates I’ve spoken to in the last two decades.
There is nothing more off-putting in a candidate than when it’s apparent that they didn’t do their research. If they clearly don’t know anything about your company, or even your industry, it’s obvious that they are not the type of candidate you are looking for. It’s vital that you come armed with information and potential answers. Even if you still have some confusion or questions, the fact that you tried to educate yourself on the company and industry shows the initiative that every company wants. Also, come with full knowledge of what the job posting was looking for so you can discuss ways that you meet the criteria they want.
It’s so tempting to think that because you are the one in the spotlight you need to do all the talking. But, that’s far from the truth. Candidates who talk through a whole interview often don’t leave a good impression. Actively listening to what the interviewer is saying and responding with thoughtful answers is one of the most impressive things you can do in an interview.
Come prepared with several questions to ask throughout your interview. Questions show that you are prepared, interested, and thoughtful. Almost every interview ends with the interviewer asking the candidate if they have any questions. If you didn’t ask anything during the interview and you don’t have anything at the end, it can come across as if you’re just there because they called you back, not because you actually want to be. I would suggest that your questions not just be about things like salary or benefits, but ask about the size of your team, the company culture, why the interviewer loves working there, what the most exciting or intriguing parts of the job are, and so on. These questions aren’t just to impress the interviewer, they also serve to inform you more about what day-to-day life would be if you accepted the job. They can really play a part in helping you as you figure out whether you even want to work there.
I am a huge proponent of follow through in all aspects of life, but especially in this instance. A thoughtful thank-you note is always appreciated no matter what job you’ve applied for. In today’s world, with everything moving so quickly, a thank-you email is likely enough to get your message across and show your appreciation and follow-through ability. But, if you have time, a physical letter in the mail shows a different level of effort and thoughtfulness. To this day, even though I am the CEO of a global company, I still take time to write notes or send follow-up emails to people who have met with me. In an increasingly disconnected world, the personal touch is always valued.
There are so many other important tips that could help you land that big job you’ve been working hard for, but I think these four tips are the most important. For my tips on how to get the interview in the first place, read my blog on job hunting tips. And watch this space for more career advice!