If you’ve made it to the interview stage, you’re one of the top candidates. Most people never get invited in for an interview based on their resume (see previous post). There are thousands of articles on how to act in an interview. I’m going to assume everyone here is professional enough to know to be on time and and to make eye contact and to stand up to shake hands and to dress professionally. Those are Basic Interviewing Etiquette 101. But is there anything else you can do to prepare? Of course.
- Do your homework. Google the shit out of the company you’re considering working for. Look at Glassdoor and Yelp for reviews. Check out their company website and LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Learn not only the industry the company is in, but anything else you want to know but shouldn’t have to ask since it’s discoverable knowledge. If you later receive an offer from the company, you might want to dig further by searching the people you interviewed with and making sure this is a company and position that you can be comfortable in for awhile.
- Answer questions thoughtfully and concisely. Don’t leave any questions unanswered. Sometimes recruiters and managers will ask you for specific examples of a time you did something. Be prepared for that. Also, don’t assume an interviewer’s silence is an invitation to keep talking. Once you have thoroughly answered the question, stop talking. Just like your resume, sometimes it’s just as much about what you don’t say as about what you do.
- Don’t be negative. You are being interviewed not just for your skills but also for a culture fit and no company wants to hire someone who is a pain in the ass before they even start working. Don’t speak poorly about your past employer. If you have a situation that needs to be addressed, be tactful and diplomatic without lying. Don’t bitch about the weather or the traffic on your way in.
- Be engaged and interesting. It’s OK to have a bit of a personality and not just respond to questions like a drone. Of course, don’t be inappropriate, but read your audience and try to make the interview as conversational as possible. That being said, don’t take over the interview. Let the recruiter or manager drive the conversation, but respond respectfully and personably.
- At the end of a normal interview, you will have a chance to ask questions. If your interviewer doesn’t offer you the chance, ask. Use this opportunity to learn if this company and position could be a fit for you. I’m a firm believer that the interview process shouldn’t just be an opportunity for the company to decide if they want you, but should also be an opportunity for you to decide if you want to work for them. Please don’t waste this opportunity with stupid questions that you could have had answered by researching the company. Don’t ask about dress code or vacation time. This makes you sound like you’re only interested in fluff. And all of that can be saved for when you receive the offer. Instead, ask about the company culture and the challenges of the position.
- If the recruiter or manager doesn’t tell you how long until you will hear back, it’s OK to ask for a timeline. Good recruiters know that good job candidates aren’t going to sit around for a month waiting for a response.