It is vitally important to know as much about the company you are applying to as possible. Utilize all the publicly available research tools and published information as you can find. Take the time to review the company web site for product information, company history and contacts you or your immediate relationships may know. Check out the most current LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter posts to see what the company is most excited about sharing now. Hiring managers know they’re dealing with someone who is serious about the position when you come prepared with relevant knowledge and company data. By mentioning the current press releases and acknowledging the company and the senior executives’ accomplishments, you portray a sense of kinship with your interviewer right away.
This is especially important when interviewing at a startup company. By knowing who the venture capital investors are, who comprises the current leadership team, what their past accomplishments were, as well as any unique products or services being offered, you create a sense of “like mindedness” with your interviewer.
Rehearse answering questions and practice positive visualization
Expect to be challenged by tough questions. It is a standard part of every interviewers checklist to see how well you cope under pressure. Rehearse your answers to questions about your work experience, any stressful job situations you may have encountered and how you handled them, what are your favorite job functions, where you see yourself in several years. By practicing your responses in advance, you present yourself as at ease and authentic, rather than scrambling to articulate a response which you think the interviewer would like to hear. A smooth, unhurried response imparts a sense of confidence and knowledge while allowing for a continued interactive conversation.
Some hiring managers and interviewers like to delve in to a candidates past achievements & accomplishments to discern certain behavioral characteristics. Did you land a big deal, if so how? Was it a collaborative effort or a trust relationship built over time? Did you lead a team or succeed through a herculean individual effort? Using past performance to predict future success is a tricky situation but being practiced and having ready answers to these types of questions creates a sense of confidence and repeatability for many hiring managers. Having answers to these questions will help align your skills to your prospective employers’ needs. This goes a long way toward gaining their confidence in your future success.
Dress for Success
Old sayings generally become old because they hold up over the test of time. Regardless of what anyone may say human nature is such that first impressions are vitally important when interviewing for a position. Whenever possible know ahead of time what the company dress code or ethos is. When in doubt, play it safe, dress professionally. Be well groomed, wear neutral or slightly subdued colors (blue or black are common choices), and if you are a coffee drinker, smoke or have had a meal before the interview, it is always a good idea to freshen your breath with a mint or mouthwash. Never enter an interview chewing gum. Be subtle in your use of perfumes or cologne. Hold your head high, look people in the eyes, shake hands briefly but firmly, confidence, do not slouch, hold a slight smile and most importantly be relaxed.
Be punctual but not overly early
Arrive for your interview between five and fifteen minutes early. Being on time, or slightly early acknowledges your understanding of the interviewer’s valuable time. Give yourself enough time to reach the location, leaving some time for unexpected delays whenever possible. NEVER be a “no call, no show”. If you are running late due to some unforeseen circumstance ALWAYS take the time to contact the interviewer at your earliest opportunity. Explain the situation, ask if they would prefer that you arrive late or reschedule a new time at their convenience. By arriving even a few minutes late you will invariably appear rushed or exasperated. It is ill advised and usually sets the wrong tone right from the start.
The art of “Body Language”
Humans unconsciously use body language and nonverbal ques to express our thoughts and feelings all the time. Whenever possible it is best to use this natural state to your advantage. always introduce yourself with a smile, a brief handshake that matches the firmness of the interviewers. Consciously present a relaxed and self-assured demeanor. If being interviewed by a group greet the others by following the interviewer’s lead. For example, address them as Mr. or Mrs. X versus “Jane or John” mirroring the introduction of your initial interviewer. Sit down when the interviewer or group does. Mirror the body language of your interviewer(s) whenever possible. If they are leaning back sit upright but relaxed as they are displaying a relaxed acceptance to you and your responses, if they are leaning in try to do the same and exude the same level of intent, focus and attention to detail that they are displaying. Do not avert your gaze when answering a question as it signals distrust, disinterest or deceptiveness. When possible in a group interview look at each interviewer throughout your response but start and stop with the person presenting the question to you.
Taking notes and asking questions
Bring a pen and notepad with you to take notes during an interview. This is an effective way to show your interest in the job, the interviewer(s) thoughts and perspective, displays a desire to learn more about the company and creates an example of your attention to detail.
Whenever possible try not to talk about “pay” during an interview
Having done your homework up front, you should know what the pay range is for the position being offered. If it is not a pay range you are comfortable with then in all likelihood you probably should not be applying for the position. If the interviewer asks what you are making (which in some cases they are not allowed to do), be honest but try to indicate a range which varies with items such as benefit packages, bonuses, achievement milestones etc. It is probably premature to talk numbers while you are both still evaluating the mutual fit of the position. When possible wait for the interviewer to bring up items like the companies benefit package.
Honesty and transparency
Simply put do not lie or even exaggerate your skills, strengths, previous job duties, position, desires or capabilities. The truth will come out on all the above eventually. Be forthright in your capabilities. Be sincere in your desire to work with the organization and why you feel you would be asset to the company. Provide an example of how you could help solve a pain point or problem for the company and if the fit is mutually beneficial you will find yourself receiving an offer in no time.
Remember this simple guideline during your interview process and frame your responses accordingly; “People buy from people they like, people buy from people like them”. Now go sell yourself!
Written by John Gaudu, Vice President