It doesn’t matter how creatively formatted or well-written a resume and cover letters may be. When it comes to deciding whether a prospective candidate is the right fit or not for a given position, interviews are essential. It is during the interview where candidates can get the best “feel” for a company, and where they can show elements of personality that cannot always be perceived via the written word. The interview is the biggest opportunity to make an exceptional first impression.There are many ways to be a candidate the interviewer is sure to remember for all the right reasons.
It’s crucial to research the company and its products, services, and any latest news. In today’s Internet-dominated society, candidates are expected to be very knowledgeable about a company where they may be spending the rest of their working lives. While start-ups and smaller companies might not have a great deal of information available, it’s still important to take note of what can be readily a accessed. When researching a company, don’t just skim the company website. Take a look at the social media outlets – such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – as well. Social networking has tremendously help businesses promote their products, services, and ideas in recent years. Candidates who ask questions or make observations from research about a company have a strong edge by perceived as committed and willing to learn. If at all possible, try to gather some information about the interviewer. This can usually be done through a LinkedIn search.
In the days leading up to the interview, it’s always best to practice responses to potential questions interviewers are likely to ask. In addition to preparing answers to questions directly related to the company, position, and skills, it’s best to be ready for questions that require candidates to think on their feet. Examples of such questions include: Who has been the biggest influence in your career? What’s your opinion on (issue relevant to the company’s industry)? What do you hope to gain from your experience working here? Where do see yourself in five years? If you’re hired, what ideas do you have to help move the company forward?
It should be obvious, but the interview is perhaps the most professional event a person can attend. It’s important to show up on time, dress appropriately, and turn off all electronic devices. A ringing cell phone can automatically turn a promising candidate into a rejection. One piece of etiquette that is often overlooked, however, is to make sure not to complain about previous jobs. If there was a negative experience in a past job, try to find some positive aspect that came out of it. It’s always best to remain positive and confident during an interview. Candidates should be sure to highlight their strengths, but also should not be afraid to admit any weaknesses – skill-wise or personality-wise – that they may have. Interviewers appreciate honesty from candidates. Being truthful in explaining “flaws” immediately is better than getting the job and not being able to complete a major project due to a total lack of certain essential skills. It’s also wise to not be too pushy about salary requirements, particularly if the interview is at a smaller company.
When the interview is over, confirm whatever the next step is before leaving. If the interviewer has requested writing samples, a portfolio, or a list of references, try to send them within a few short hours of the interview. Sending such materials in a timely fashion shows ability to work well under pressure and within tight deadlines. It’s also a good idea for candidates to think of any questions that they may have forgotten to ask. One step that too many job-seekers often forget to do is send a thank-you note to the interviewer. Regardless of what the candidate thought of the company, position, or interview itself, it’s generally considered highly courteous to send a brief note thanking the interviewer for taking his or her time to learn a lot more than a candidate could put on a resume. All of the aforementioned tips can help a candidate stand out from others, and can help the interview process move in a seamless way.
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