Even the most confident professionals can turn weak in the knees during an interview process. Throughout my career, I have thrived in this area. In jobs I have been very interested in, I often progressed to final interviews or received offers. I have also been on the side of hiring several individuals or have been part of an interview process crossing other departments. I have narrowed down four major elements for success, starting with:
To start, you must do your research and be prepared. That is the number one way to impress beyond your work history. Your resume got you there, now prove your dedication to the process. The difficult part is to narrow down what to research. If you know whom you will be meeting with, LinkedIn is a great resource to understand the background of your future boss, co-workers. Understanding their background can help in directing your questions. Look deeper into the company, what they do, who their competitors are, and business statements. Finally, to put this into practice, have questions prepared that showcase your research. Ask about their company strategy, goals, and challenges.
Be honest with yourself. Answer questions honestly and give specific examples as proof points. If you made mistakes in your work history, own them then describe what you learned from it. At the very least an employer will want to understand why you are looking to leave your current situation or left past jobs. Do your best not to sound to negate of blame your past employers. Be vague but honest.
Follow up and professional persistence is a key to prove your interest in the position. You may not want to seem too eager, thinking this may lower your ability to negotiate a higher salary at the end. The truth is employers want people who want to work there, and you may not get a chance to negotiate an offer if you do not appear and prove to be interested. Determine the next steps and ask appropriate times to follow up. Always follow up with a thank you letter or email recapping the discussion, confirming your interest in the next steps, and detailing reasons you would be a great fit for the position. I have interviewed many good candidates who never followed up with a thank you letter. I was very amazed this practice was not a standard for many individuals, even qualified candidates.
Up your game in second, third, or final interviews. I have interviewed people who were great the first time, and I only got more of the same. If you get to the next stage, figure you are up against a select few as well. You will need to increase your research and bring more proof you are the best candidate for the job. Respect all interview processes, even if they are long and daunting. Remember that employers have their process for a reason and having you speak to additional people on the team matters to them.
About the Author
David Apple is the Director of Sales Operations at Flycast Partners.