How To Snag the Job
by Vicky Oliver
You landed an interview for a sought-after position at a top-notch company. You’ve heard that the competition will be fierce. There could be as many as ten people competing for that coveted slot. It’s more important than ever to be at your best so that you can trounce your competitors.
With the economy in rebound mode, there is a burst of new hiring. There are more jobs, but there are also numerous qualified people to fill them. It may require extra effort to stand out from your competitors on the big day. How do you position yourself as the ideal candidate for the job?
In a field of star applicants, here are seven ways to ace your job interview.
1. Do your due diligence
If you know someone who works at the company — or even know someone who knows someone — get in contact and pick that person’s brain for the inside story. Learn everything you can about the company — new management, new initiatives, general morale, even the personality of your interviewer. If you don’t know anyone at the company, scour your network for someone in a competitive or similar business. Having a deep knowledge of both the industry and the actual company where you are interviewing will help separate you from those with only a superficial understanding. You’ll ask smarter questions, and be more memorable as a result.
2. Interview early
Ninety-nine percent of interviewees would rather be anywhere else on the planet than at an actual interview. Hence, there is a real tendency to want to “get the interview over with” as soon as possible. Often this is a mistake. Instead, recognize that timing is critical. If you are given a choice, choose a morning timeslot for your interview. Studies show that people who interview in the morning are offered the job more often than those who take afternoon interviews. (A side benefit: you will get the interview over with earlier in the day, too!)
3. Become a member of the Tuesday-to-Thursday club
Mid-week days are better interview days than either Mondays or Fridays. On Monday, everyone on staff has too many meetings to give an appointment with you the attention it deserves. On Friday, most interviewers are ready to leave the work week behind. Fridays also have the additional “hump” of the weekend built in. Interview on a Friday, and there’s a chance that your interviewer will be on to more pressing issues by Monday — any momentum is lost.
4. Don’t skip the dress rehearsal
Prepare your responses to any typical and outlier questions you can imagine. Don’t forget to include the questions that are hard to answer. Were you fired? Or was it really more of a layoff? Did you take time off, and why? Be sure to rehearse in front of a mirror, a family member, or a job-hunting buddy. Learn your answers so thoroughly that they almost seem spontaneous. (However, in any follow-up interview, be sure to change your answers a bit so they won’t seem canned.)
5. Dress for the job you envision
Dress appropriately, that is, professionally, for the interview. Depending on the corporate culture of the company, you may want to dress more conservatively than if you already worked there. Choose one item, perhaps a tie or belt, that expresses your personality. Be sure that your clothing is clean, pressed, and reflective of current styles. You don’t have to be a fashionista, just someone whom the company will feel comfortable sending to meet with clients and new business prospects.
6. Be curious
Don’t show up for an interview without preparing a list of well-thought-out questions of your own. Most often, once the interviewer exhausts her questions, she’ll ask if you have any. This provides another opportunity for you to shine. Present insightful observations on the industry or offer kudos for recent company successes as lead-ins. You can also ask questions that will help determine if the company will be a good fit for you, such as: “What type of employees tend to succeed here?” Make sure never to ask questions pertaining to any perks until an offer is made. You may also want to steer clear of any questions that will show your interviewer that you’re not the right person for the job, such as “Will I really have to travel two days a week?”
7. Plan your job-snagging campaign
Most interviewees believe the in-person meeting with the hiring manager is the last step. Unfortunately, it’s only the first step. After a great meeting, begin your campaign for the job. Don’t forget to write that thank-you email the same day. Plan out a communication strategy for when you will reach out to the interviewer again. Remember: You are on a campaign for a job until you land the job.
Vicky Oliver is leading career development expert. www.vickyoliver.com