12 Interview Techniques to Help Land Your Next Job
By Tom Caravela, Managing Partner (The Carolan Group)
Your next career move could very well be one interview away. Be sure to take every measure to prepare yourself and make the most of the opportunity. Here are 12 important interview techniques that will help lead to your next career move.
1. Preparation is KEY
Do your homework. Make sure you research the company and be prepared to discuss. It is very likely you will be asked, “what do you know about the company” or “why do you want to work here”. Start by visiting the company website for a good overview of the organization. Second, look up key personnel on Linked In, especially the people you are interviewing with. Next, review the job description and be very clear on the requirements. Make sure you are prepared to give examples of how you have and will meet the requirements of the position. Last, review news articles and be aware of some of the latest press releases out on the organization. Again, be prepared to discuss but be strategic and tactful.
As part of your preparation, make time to rehearse and think through the questions you might be asked regarding your current and past roles. Expect basic interview questions such as… why you left your previous position, what you’re looking for in your next job, and what makes you a good candidate for this position. Of course, be ready for the ever popular, ”what is your greatest weakness” question. Write down your answers, it will help you remember them. You will be more confident and less nervous at the actual interview.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so, politely. For example, you can reply, I’m afraid I don’t know the answer, but I would like to research and get back to you on that. Trying to fake it usually does not work, especially with experienced interviewers who will see right through it.
3. Show Genuine Interest
Demonstrate your interest in the job and the company. Make sure you know why you are there and more importantly, express your interest to each person you interview with. Excitement and genuine interest is an impression you want to make. This impression is lasting and will separate you from other candidates.
4. Keep Answers Brief…Do Not Digress
When asked a question, keep your answers relevant, succinct and do not digress off topic. Too often, candidates set their own agenda and answer questions with added self promotion. While it is important to highlight your attributes, past success and capabilities, do so in context. Sell yourself but do not ramble and always stay on topic.
5. Ask Questions
When you get the opportunity, ask questions. Have a list of questions prepared and be ready to use it. These can be about the company’s future plans, growth prospects, or about what is expected of you from the job and what growth you can expect at the company. It is a mistake to NOT ask questions when given the opportunity. It comes off as lack of preparation and interest. The only caution, however, is to not ask something that you could have found out on the company’s website.
6. Be Positive
Maintain a positive stance especially towards your current or past employer. Find a neutral way to explain challenges you might have faced at your previous company, or reasons why your career growth required that you move on. Perhaps there were “strategic differences” that prevented your growth and career development which resulted in your decision to leave.
7. How to Handle the Salary Discussion
Whenever possible, leave the salary discussion to the end of the interview process. Refrain from bringing up the salary discussion yourself and be sure NOT to give the impression that money is your main motivation. When you are asked about salary, always be truthful. Employers can and will verify prior compensation. If asked about expectations, consider saying you are seeking a “competitive increase” rather than offer specific numbers or percentages.
8. Business Etiquette (Verbal and Non Verbal)
Exercise best practice in business etiquette to make a lasting impression. Show up early, display confidence and always maintain eye contact. A firm handshake, confident introduction and eye contact will set the tone for each interview. Be courteous and let the interviewer lead and direct the conversation. Never interrupt! Be comfortable and poised but sit up straight and be alert at all times. It is a mistake to be too relaxed as it may come off as arrogance or lack of interest. Remember to smile and display good energy. Appearing “laid back’ or lacking energy will leave a bad impression. Be mindful of “over gesturing” as it may make you appear nervous or over anxious.
9. Dress Code
Dress your best! Expect to wear your best business suit unless instructed otherwise. Some companies are “business casual” and may recommend you observe their dress code for the interview. If not, wear a dark business suit with a white shirt (or blouse) as a rule of thumb. Conservative tie, shoes and accessories (jewelry and handbags) are recommended. An interview is not an opportunity to make a fashion statement so stay professional and conservative as a safe bet.
10. Ask for the Next Step
It is important to express continued interest and close for the next step. Ask your interviewer’s questions like…What are next steps? How would we go about scheduling next steps? When should I check back to find out about the next step in the process?
Send a thank-you note or email to each person you met with. It is a nice touch to bring thank you cards with you. Fill them out before you depart and leave them with the receptionist to hand out to each interviewer. If you feel more comfortable with e-mail, make sure you collect a business card from each person you meet with. Within 24 hours, send a brief and professional thank you e-mail expressing your continued interest in the role and why you are a good fit.
12. Working with Recruiters/Headhunters
Utilize your relationship with your recruiter. Be sure to contact your recruiter before each interview so that they can help you prepare. Ask for tips and any additional information they can offer. Contact your recruiter after each interview as well and strategize next steps. It is the recruiter’s responsibility to represent you and work closely with the company on your behalf. Leverage your recruiter’s business partnership in every way, especially when it comes to compensation discussions and negotiations.