New Year, New You! If that’s your mantra for 2017, you might be one of the thousands of people who resolve to kiss all of 2016 (including their job) goodbye. It’s late January, your job search is well underway, resume is revamped and you’re brushing up on interview skills – determined to land the job of your dreams. A recruiter calls to schedule time with you, suddenly you find yourself thinking about how to stand out in the crowd and get the offer.
As a member of the recruiting community, I have access to some of the best interview strategists in Seattle and am happy to impart their knowledge. After interviewing 32 recruiters, I noticed six recurring tips that they said elevated a candidate from ‘good’ to ‘rockstar’ status.
Below you’ll find six great tips to help you ace your next interview.
- Do your homework
With information so readily available, researching the company and the position has never been easier. Try leveraging your LinkedIn network, you might know someone at the company you’re interviewing with; invite them to coffee to mine for information on team and company goals, biggest opportunities and the company culture. Before you walk into your interview, you should know exactly what the company does, its major initiatives, notable accomplishments and pain points.
Being able to speak to specific data points will show that you are a results-driven candidate with critical thinking skills and the drive to jump in and make an impact on day one.
- Use strong action verbs
The ability to sell yourself as the best candidate without coming off as a narcissist can be one of the most challenging aspects of interviewing. I find the key to walking the fine line of confidence is to use strong action verbs when discussing the work that you’ve done. Rather than saying ‘I participated in X’ say, ‘I created the X that helped make Y possible’. The slight change in verb from ‘participated’ to ‘created’ promotes you from taskmaster to impactful team player.
- Don’t save your questions for the end
Do not wait for the interviewer to say, “do you have any questions for me?” before making your first move. You should be asking questions from start to finish to build rapport and encourage a more conversational feeling. This is important for two reasons:
- Setting a conversational tone is a great way to show that you are confident but approachable and that you not only have the chops to work there, you will also be a great culture fit.
- Asking smart, thoughtful questions will reinforce your level of interest in the position and demonstrate that you are engaged, curious and comfortable communicating.
In addition to propelling you ahead of other candidates, asking questions throughout will help you determine if the job is really right for you. I hate to sound cliché, but remember that you’re also interviewing them.
- Know when to stop
Interviews are nerve-wracking and can make even the most poised speakers ramble. Don’t do it; you run the risk of confusing your interviewer and accidentally divulging information that could be harmful rather than helpful. My tip here is to pause and evaluate what the interviewer is asking you – ask a clarifying question if you have to. Take a breath and give a thoughtful answer, provide a supporting example but be concise.
If you catch yourself off on a tangent and need time to compose yourself, wrap up your thoughts and ask a questions you came prepared with.
- Sell yourself with a closing question
If you really want the job, don’t shy away from inquiring about next steps; interviewers are more excited about candidates who are interested than those who seem apathetic. The kind of closing question you choose will depend on whether you’ve built rapport, the tone of the interview and the environment. If you are meeting with a large group, ask a broad question such as:
- ‘This sounds like an amazing opportunity, I would love to be considered. When might I hear about next steps?’
If you are meeting with one or two people, you can ask a more targeted question, such as:
- ‘After our discussion, do you have any reservations about hiring me for this position? If you do, I’d like to address them now.’
This seems forward, but can open an honest dialogue that will allow you to clarify their questions and ease any concerns they might have about your qualifications.
My final piece of advice?
- Send a thank you
You need to immediately send an email thanking the interviewer(s) for their time. Use this as a final opportunity to highlight the skills that make you the strongest candidate and remind them why they will benefit from hiring you. If you know there are more rounds of interviews, I recommend mailing a handwritten note thanking them again – it’s one thing other candidates aren’t likely to do and will set you apart as someone who is thoughtful, organized and values relationships.
Landing your dream job requires research, preparation and persistence. If you’ve marked 2017 as the year you leave your job in search of an exciting new challenge, remember it’s a marathon not a sprint. Getting a new job takes time and the more dedicated you are, the more likely you are to get multiple offers – especially if you implement some of these insider tips!