Interviewing is a skill that takes practice to master. Here are some tips to make you a more hire-able candidate:
1. Know what you did at your last job.
This seems really basic and it is; but a lot of people don’t know how to describe what they did at their previous job. If you list off the job description for your last job, I promise you it won’t make an impression. Explain what you accomplished and why you did the job better than someone else would have in that same position. The interviewer already knows what a project manager does, they want to know why you are a better project manager than the ten others they’ll interview that week. Bonus points if you use actual numbers and percentages.
2. Know why you want the job.
Again, very basic, and often forgotten. Even if the interviewer doesn’t come out directly and ask “why do you want to work with us?” the answer to this question should always come out through your answers to other questions. You should know what your goals are and show how they align with working in that specific role in that specific company.
If you don’t know why you want the job and why you want to work at that company, you’re not in the right interview.
3. Let the interviewer talk, and ask them to talk.
People like talking about themselves. On a first date, would you talk the entire time without asking your date anything about themselves? Ask good questions about the company, but more importantly, ask questions about the interviewer. What do they like about the company they work for? How did they end up in their current position? Interviews are conversations, if you dominate the entire thing, you won’t make for a very appealing candidate.
4. Dress to impress.
This is so basic and in my opinion one of the most important. An interview is your one chance to make a good impression. The very first impression you will make is how you look. Be well-groomed and well-dressed. Know the position you’re applying for and dress accordingly. If you show up at an interview for a position with a casual startup wearing a suit, it will be obvious you didn’t do your research.
5. Print out your materials.
I know, I know, who even prints things anymore? But if you show up with your resume, writing samples or other materials printed out, and you leave them with the interviewer after the meeting, those papers are going back to the interviewer’s desk. They will likely sit there and your name and qualifications will be visible while your emails and online portfolio will be read and lost.
6. Follow up.
Always, always, always follow up. Send a quick “thank you” email to the interviewer later that day thanking them for their time. If you discussed a specific article or book, include a link to it in your email. Show the interviewer that you really want the role.
If they let you know that they decided to move forward with a different candidate, follow up in a month or two. Growing companies, especially startups, are always opening up new roles. If you feel like you left a good impression, they will be happy you popped back into their inbox for a different role. In hiring, timing is everything. Maybe you aren’t the best candidate for a specific role at a specific time, but two or three months later you might be perfect.
After all the stress and build-up, at the end of the day, an interview is just a conversation between two people. Be yourself, be relaxed, and remember that you’re interviewing them as a candidate for where you will spend 30% of your time just as much as they are interviewing you.