Unfortunately, the job market at the start of the new year is extremely competitive, and employers are often overwhelmed with job applications. The whole process can take more than several months to complete, which means it might be a while before an interview is scheduled. During this suspenseful limbo period, brush up on how to rise above the competition in your interviews. Whether you’ve landed your dream interview or you’re looking to prepare for it, here are some tips for setting yourself apart and nailing interviews.
Do Your Research
If you really want to stand out from the competition and make a lasting impression, then you must thoroughly research the company you’re interviewing with beforehand. Find out as much as possible about the company. Read reviews and articles, learn about the company’s employees and your interviewer(s), and know the company’s history.
This research will show the interviewer that you care about the company and the position. As you read up on the company and its people, start thinking about potential questions to ask at the interview. The research can help you ask better questions — not typical, yawn-inducing ones — and get you brownie points for obviously doing your homework. The time you invested in brushing up on the company will also be put to use in improving your responses and boosting your confidence. You’ll be able to cite specific examples to illustrate your points and talk about what you found particularly interesting. All of these advantages will leave the interviewer with the impression that you took the interview seriously and you are interested in company improvements.
Know the Position
To get hired, you’ll have to know the job you’ve applied for inside and out. Review the job description’s language and how the company talks about the position on its website. Be prepared to talk about how your resume complements the job description. If you need help with this, use Jobscan to help you identify the specific language of the position and how that language compares to what’s on your resume. When the majority of large companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to search for qualified candidates using resume keywords, it’s important that your resume makes it through the ATS to a human being — one who can potentially contact you to schedule an interview.
During the interview, ask about what your daily tasks might include and highlight what interests you about the position. Show the interviewer that you can confidently perform all of the job requirements by providing specific, measurable examples from previous work or volunteer experiences. These examples should prove your accomplishments through concrete numbers and percentages, such as the percentage of projects you completed within budget, or the percentage of increased web traffic attributable to you.
During the Interview
Try to go to your zen place for the interview; it’s important to stay calm. Be friendly with the interviewer but professional. A lot of people get nervous for interviews, and that’s totally okay. Channel your inner [insert your favorite actor here] persona and just don’t let it show. Obvious signs of nervousness, such as twitching, fiddling with items, excessive hand movements, and avoiding eye contact can make the interview awkward and uncomfortable for both parties, plus they can distract from your awesome responses.
Listen to the interviewer, don’t interrupt him or her, and take time to think of appropriate responses before speaking. Don’t be too modest: this is the time to really sell yourself. Confidence in your ability to perform the desired job duties well will make you a memorable job candidate. And always remember that the basics go a long way in making you shine not simply as a person, but also as a potential addition to the team: a firm handshake (no wet spaghetti handshakes, please), genuine smiles, and eye contact.
Follow Up After the Interview
Before you leave, ask about what will happen next. There may be further interview requirements or post-interview assignments to complete. Be sure to thank the interviewer and say that you’re looking forward to hearing from him or her. Follow up with a sincere thank you email at least two hours after leaving the interview. Show that you were awake during the interview by including in the email a comment about something you found to be interesting during the interview, or something surprising that you learned from the interviewer. The email could also mention things about the position and company that you are excited about.
If you haven’t heard back from them within a week (unless specifically told otherwise), send a follow up email asking about post-interview steps or if you can provide them with any additional information. Don’t become discouraged if you don’t hear back immediately — the interview process can take months. Your follow up should strike the right balance: show that you’re very interested but don’t over do it. Make sure that you don’t come across as way too eager or desperate. Basically, thank the interviewer and follow up, but don’t become a stalker.
Thorough research about a job position and the company will increase your confidence and allow you to ace an interview. If you combine that with following up in an appropriate manner, you’ll show that you’re willing to put in more effort than other candidates. You’ll stand out from the competition as the very best candidate for the position.