Wednesday, June 27, 2012

5 Steps To Interview Success

You have done everything right so far. Great resume, strong phone interview, made it past the internal recruiter and now you are scheduled for your first in-person interview with the hiring manager. It is at this point that the well prepared candidate can differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. That's what you want to do, right? Blow away the competition for this job! You are going to sit down in front of your soon to be new boss and wow them with your wit, personality and expertise. You are going to get this job! Confident? Ready? Not completely? Well, follow these five steps and you will be:

1) Research the industry and company: Everything you need to learn about your next employer is on the world wide web. Amazing! Look into the industry the company serves, how they are positioned, what market share they hold. Become familiar with the company's  services and products so you can refer to them in the flow of the interview. Be ready to present their product or service if asked. Smart candidates walk in to the interview knowing how to sell or market what they will be selling or marketing for the company they want to join. Type up several pithy and insightful questions that are relevant to the industry, company or role to ask during the interview. 

2) Image is everything: Present yourself in the most professional manner possible. When you aren't sure what to wear to the interview, think conservative dress. Leave the jeans, sandals, short skirt and lounge wear for the weekends. (Believe me... at TVG Executive Search...just when we thought we had seen it all...). Be well groomed and rested. Don't go out on a bender the night before. When you greet the hiring manager for the first time, step forward confidently, look them square in the eye and shake their hand firmly without fracturing their index finger. Positive first impressions create lasting impressions. Make the introduction count!

3) Don't get too personal: Establishing a solid rapport is essential. Elaborating on you recent vacation or bragging about your kids (or parrot) isn't a way to accomplish this. Certainly, you would have researched the hiring manager's background on LinkedIn and identified a few commonalities. If so, reference them discretely and indirectly in the conversation. Don't try to lay on the secret hand shake if you just happen fraternity brothers. You goal isn't to become BFFs in the interview. Your job is to get the job. Eight five percent or more of the conversation should be devoted to the opportunity. Fifteen percent or less should be about your personal life. If they ask you about your interests and hobbies, provide an answer without great detail. You will have plenty of time to get acquainted AFTER they hire you.

4) Ask for the job: These days, there is no such thing as an "informational interview".  If you are there interviewing, the assumption is that you want this job! If not, what the heck are you there for and why are you wasting their time! Therefore, as the interview is coming to a close, take the lead and say "based on everything we have discussed, I feel I am extremely qualified for this role and know I will be an outstanding contributor to the company's success. I very interested in joining your team. What are the next steps in the process?" They can answer any number of ways. The point is to ACT as though you are the "IT" and assume they will want you. Confidence is attractive. Ambivalence is not.

5) Follow up: Within 24 hours but not within the first hour, send the hiring manager an email thanking them for the opportunity to meet and recapping 3-5 reasons why you are the right person for the job. Call them within 48 hours to inquire about the next steps. If you don't hear back within a day after your call, call them again. I see nothing wrong with demonstrating a keen desire and consistent follow up until you get the answer that, a) you are moving forward in the process or, b) for some reason they went in a different direction. Either way, invite the hiring manager to connect on LinkedIn. You never know how that introduction could be of benefit in the future.

Act on these 5 points and you will stand out from the other candidates who didn't have the good fortune of reading my blog!

Mike Vanneman
Founder - TVG Executive Search

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