Ah, the wonderful world of recruiting! Seven years in the game and I’ve had a front-row seat to the circus of job seekers. I’ve witnessed the good, the bad, and the downright ridiculous. Seriously though, I’ve got stories that would make your jaw drop. You know, those moments when you wonder if common sense truly is that common?
Now, don’t worry, I’m not here to roast you (at least not too much lol). What’s become abundantly clear to me over my years in recruiting is that writing a resume, filling out job applications, interviewing, and sealing the deal with prospective employers is a skill set that many don’t have. I blame the education system. I mean, seriously, shouldn’t schools offer a class on this stuff? It’s practically a life skill right up there with cooking instant noodles.
Since they haven’t caught up to that genius idea yet, I’m here, ready to share 10 tips on what you should be doing before, during, and after an interview.
Tip #1: Send a thank you note.
This is the golden rule of post-interview etiquette. Most companies are interviewing a bunch of candidates, so this little gesture will really help you stand out from the crowd. But here’s the thing – don’t just send off any old thank you note. Personalization is key. Share something you enjoyed, something you learned; let them know why you’re head over heels for the position and why you are the perfect fit.
Tip #2: Show up.
You’d be surprised how many people flake on their interviews and then have the audacity to ask for a do-over. Don’t be that person. If for some reason you can’t make it, please do the courteous thing and give the company or your recruiter a heads-up. Skipping out and then explaining yourself afterward, while it might be the truth, is just not the way to go. So, put on your grown-up pants, pick up the phone, and let them know what’s up.
Tip #3: Be honest about your background
If there’s anything that’s going to pop up on a background check, tell your recruiter or hiring manager right from the start. When we know beforehand, not only will we appreciate your candidness, but we’ll also give you the opportunity to explain the situation. A little hiccup in your background isn’t always a deal-breaker. However, if we ask, you fib, and we find out later, it’s not just your background we’re side-eyeing – it’s your character.
Tip #4: Alert your references
Always give your references a friendly heads-up. Before you put them on the spot, give them a quick call or message letting them know that someone might be reaching out to chat about your qualifications and character. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it and be better prepared to speak to your strengths.
Tip #5: Do your homework.
Take a little time to get to know the company – dive into their values, their mission, and any recent accomplishments. But don’t stop there, research your interviewer, too! However, let’s keep it professional. No need to venture into their Facebook vacation photos. A quick stop by their LinkedIn profile is perfect. Discover how long they’ve been part of the company, their job title, and any shared connections or interests. While you’re at it, don’t be shy – send a connection request and shoot over a quick message expressing your excitement about the upcoming interview. The goal here is to stand out!
Now, you can tailor your responses during the interview by highlighting how your skills and experience align with the company’s values and mission. And hey, why not casually drop that you both know Sabrina from college or bring up a tidbit from the article they recently shared.
Tip #6: Bring copies of your resume.
This is a detail that many candidates tend to forget, but trust me – it’s a game changer and let me give you two examples why.
Okay, scenario #1. I want you to picture this: you walk into the interview room and there they are – not one, not two, but a whole squad of interviewers waiting to grill you. Now, what if you only brought one copy of your resume? I mean you could just make them share it and watch them fight over it like it’s the last piece of cake at a birthday party. Or you could whip out your sleek professional folder/portfolio and hand out resume copies like your Oprah handing out cars. “You get a resume, you get a resume, you get a resume, everyone gets a resume!”
Scenario #2: You walk into the interview room, and the interviewer has pulled a classic move and lost their own copy of your resume. Now, you could sit there twiddling your thumbs while they scramble to find it. Or, you could pull out another copy. Cue the dramatic music because you just won major brownie points without breaking a sweat.
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Tip #7: Communicate
Always respond to their messages, even if it’s a rejection email. Most candidates receive rejection letters and simply move on without responding. But I want you to be different! Take a moment to send back a graceful reply, thanking them for the chance and why not ask for some constructive feedback while you’re at it? This will speak to your professionalism and serve as a great opportunity to gain knowledge about yourself and your interviewing skills. Not to mention, it can also open doors to valuable networking opportunities. The job market is constantly changing, and you never know what may transpire with other candidates or future openings at the same company.
Tip #8: Ask questions
It’s not just about showing up with all the right answers; you’ve got to bring some killer questions to the table. Asking questions not only demonstrates your enthusiasm for the opportunity but also gives you insights into whether the job aligns with your goals and expectations. It’s a two-way street. This isn’t just about impressing them; it’s about making sure this is the right fit for you too. For guidance on which questions to ask, check out my blog post “5 Essential Questions to Include in Your Job Interview.”
Tip #9: Dress for success
The saying “dress for success” holds a timeless truth in the world of job interviews. My personal rule of thumb: always dress one step up from the position you’re interviewing for. It’s a simple yet effective way to make a positive first impression. Trust me, it’s better to be overdressed and have them say, “wow, they’re serious!” than to show up looking like you just rolled out of bed.
Tip #10: Be on time
Whether the interview is face to face or virtual, being on time is a non-negotiable. For in-person interviews, plan to arrive at least 20-30 minutes early unless instructed otherwise. Map out the location beforehand, factor in potential traffic and time to park. If possible, consider a trial drive to the location before the interview day to gauge the commute. For virtual interviews, make sure you have a stable internet connection, a working camera/microphone on your device, and a quiet, well-lit space. I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the video conferencing platform beforehand to minimize the risk of any technical issues. Join the virtual meeting at least 10 minutes early.
Remember, it’s not just about your qualifications on paper; it’s about the personal touches, the preparation, and the professionalism that you bring to the table. From sending that thoughtful thank you note to doing your homework and asking insightful questions, every step you take will make a significant difference in your interviewing journey. Don’t forget to save, share, or bookmark this post for future guidance. Best of luck with your interviews, and be sure to check out my post on 8 steps for a professional job resignation. Following these interviewing tips, you’re bound to land your dream job!