You need money. To get money, you need a job. To get a job, you need to nail the interview. Everyone knows it’s important to look nice, be polite, make eye contact, blah blah blah; we’d like to give you a few advanced job interview tips that will help you stand out among the other candidates and ensure a good fit with the company you’re interviewing with. For expert advice, we reached out to HR Manager Traci Fajardo of Digital Trends, who has interviewed and hired scores of candidates.
1. Wait Patiently for the Interview Call
Waiting to be called in for an interview can be sheer torture. Still, you should resist the urge to call and follow up on the status of your application — particularly if it’s only been a few days since you applied. “One of the biggest things HR people hate is when people call to follow up on the application status, demanding an answer,” says Fajardo. “It’s better to send an email that says, ‘Hello, just want to let you know I’m still interested in the position. I know you’re super busy, I look forward to hearing from you.’ It doesn’t require a response, but it puts your name out there.”
2. Do Some Reconnaissance
Obviously, it’s a good idea to Google the company you’re interviewing for. However, that alone isn’t going to cut it. A monkey can do a Google search, and that monkey might get your job if you don’t do some serious boning up. Try reaching out to someone who already works for the company so you can get a better grasp of the company’s needs. If you can’t do that, we highly recommend looking up the company on Glassdoor.com. “You want to know what the company is about,” says Fajardo. “Interviewers are always looking for someone who has more than just what they saw in the job posting; they want candidates who understand what the company does and spend some time learning more about the company.”
3. Be Nice to Everyone, Not Just Decision-Makers
Your job interview begins the moment you walk in the building. You should make an effort to be kind and respectful to everyone you come across — not just those you deem important. These people work in the same place, after all, and are bound to talk to each other. “I’ve always asked the receptionist for her impression of candidates when they come in,” says Fajardo. “If they were rude to the receptionist, it doesn’t matter that they were nice to everyone else.”
4. Apply Your Skills to the Position
You have skills and accomplishments. The company you’re interviewing with has challenges and needs. During the interview, your job is to bridge the gap between you and the company. While rattling off your skills, you should help them understand precisely how you’re going to wield those skills to help the business thrive. “I like the people who come in thinking, ‘OK, how can I help this company solve this problem?’” says Fajardo. “A big turn off for an interviewer is an interviewee who comes in and says, ‘This is what I need; I want this; I’m looking for this in my career.’”
5. Prepare Specific Anecdotes
Interviewers love asking specific questions about how you’ve used your skills in the past. You’ve probably heard questions like, “Can you describe a conflict you’ve had with a coworker and tell us how you came to a resolution?” or “What is your greatest achievement?” Fajardo has some excellent thoughts on the matter: “You should know the top skills needed for the job, then have some real life examples of how you’ve applied those skills. If you have those stories practiced in advance, you can almost always direct a question back to one of your stories.”
6. Ask Smart Questions
Asking good questions during or at the end of the interview serves two purposes: It can help you discern whether you’re a good fit for the company and make you seem like a thoughtful candidate. And no, we’re not talking about questions regarding salary, time off, lunchtime, etc. Here are a few thoughtful questions that Fajardo recommends asking:
- What are some of the challenges that you’re working on right now?
- What is the one skill or quality you’re looking for most of all?
- How did the position become available?
- Is the company growing?
7. Be Yourself
Some candidates are so busy cultivating a shiny, flawless veneer that they forget to be themselves during the interview. Yes, you want to maintain a polite, professional attitude, but you also want to be honest. “Half the battle when you’re interviewing is creating a connection with the person,” says Fajardo. “You should never go into an interview and be someone else. Ultimately you’re looking for a fit with the company, and it’s a two-way street. You may have the best answers, but if you don’t like the vibe you’re getting from the company, do you really want to work there?”
No two jobs or workplaces are exactly alike. While these tips will help your prospects in nearly any situation, you’ll still need to absorb the vibe of each workplace and customize your approach to each interview. The most important pieces of advice are to stay relaxed, be yourself, and make an earnest attempt to determine whether you’re a good match for the company and vice-versa.