Acing the Interview


Posted by Fred Keena

Note: I don’t cover post-interview tips, or general interview etiquette (e.g. dress professionally and don’t chew gum), but I will cover those in a future post.

Ok, you got the interview, but now you have to really impress the hiring manager, right? Wrong! Kind of…While it is not time to breathe easy, you got the interview which means you impressed them with words only. That means you already sold the company on your background/experience and the value you bring to them. The majority of candidates interview their way out of an offer, not the other way around. So, how do you ensure you ace the interview and get an offer? For this post, we are assuming a standard interview (i.e. not a group interview with multiple candidates present and not a presentation) and that it is face-to-face. To ace the interview, you will need to utilize your network, in-depth internet research, practice and relax.

Utilizing Your Network

If you recall, the best way to get an interview was to utilize your network; whether that was through a recruiter you connected with, friends or former co-workers. Let’s take that one step further and discuss how each resource can further aid you in the job-search process.

Through a referral:

You submitted your resume through one of your connections that currently works for Fictional, Inc., and that connection fast-tracked you to the hiring manager for an interview. How can we leverage that connection one more time?

Reach back out to your referral to thank them for submitting your resume and let them know that, because of their help, you got an interview. Acknowledge who you are interviewing with and ask your referral if they know any of the following:

Armed with this knowledge you can steer the conversation towards (or at least build into your answers) some of this insight. For example, you discover that Fictional, Inc. is going to select and implement a new software that can analyze Fictional data faster. Prepare for this. Think about how you implemented a new program, a new software. Did you train others? Were you part of the implementation process? Where you involved with converting data from the old system to the new one? You can sneak this into conversation two ways: 1) you can ask a question regarding future plans or challenges they may face and hope they mention it, or 2) when asked about your greatest strength, achievement, or even solving a complex problem, use THAT as your example. The hiring manager will see the immediate value-add to his team and company.

Through a Recruiter:

Similar to referral, a recruiter can be tapped for some great insight. In fact, this is where the true value of a great recruiter surfaces. As with the referral, a recruiter can provide the above insight and more. Further, a good recruiter will always provide this insight, unprompted. They will help prep you for any interview and provide any insight that can give you an upper hand over other candidates. This insight can include pain points for the company (turnover, low customer service scores, etc.), pain points for the manager and in most cases, why other candidates have not been hired.

Internet Research

Whether you got the interview through a recruiter, a referral or neither, you will need to do additional research. In doing so you will achieve three things: deeper knowledge and understanding of the company and industry; demonstrate some of your skills (attention to detail, resourcefulness, etc.); and desire for the job.  While you should visit the company website, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Below are some sites you should always visit (with a short reason why) and some additional sites in which you can potentially gain some extra insight.

Always Visit:

Company site: Gain insight into their people, products, services, locations, tools, blogs, news releases, etc. Allows for a great bird’s eye view to mid-level look at a company.

Competitor’s sites: Gain insight into their competitors. Are they offering the exact same products and services? Same geographies? What about different “tones” or feel to their website? Could provide insight into the different cultures within the industry.

Industry blogs/sites: Gain insight into current happenings in the industry such as laws, court cases, mergers, key metrics/topics, upcoming conferences/trade shows, etc. Provides an unbiased, and deeper, view into the industry.

LinkedIn profile pages of interviewers: Gain insight into their background: school, hobbies, former positions/companies, longevity (and promotions)

Should Visit

Glassdoor: Gain insight into what current employees, former employees and possibly clients are saying about them. Can also find out potential interview processes and questions. Don’t put too much stake into the salary ranges.

BBB: Gain insight to see if they are in good standing and to see if there are active and/or resolved claims on file.

Wikipedia: Gain insight into their history, possible competitors, past mergers/acquisitions, major complaints/lawsuits/court cases and even if they are represented in the media (books, movies, documentaries, etc.)

LinkedIn profile page CEO, COO, etc.: If you are not interviewing with the C-Suite, you can gain insight into who is running the company (background, education, longevity).

Practice and Relax

While some actually practice in front of the mirror or record themselves, you don’t have to (but can, just don’t stress out over it. You don’t want to sound rehearsed). Instead, practice how you will respond to certain questions. For example, do you have short job tenure? You will likely be asked about that. Prepare in advance and provide true and concise answers. Know it will involve behavior questions? Write down your 5-7 greatest achievements and describe the situation, the action and the results (just notes and bullets will be fine). While you will not take these notes to the interview, you will have actively thought about these situations BEFORE you are asked to talk about them. This will allow you to confidently provide good examples (and you won’t come off as rehearsed, either)

Again, relax. You have already captured their interest from only a piece of paper or two, so the interviewers already see the value your experience can add. Review the above several times, really get to know the company and industry to help demonstrate your skills are transferrable.

Summary

The key to acing the interview is to understand the interviewers, the company and the industry and this is done by utilizing your network and really taking the time to do research. Lastly, it is important to relax. Remember, you impressed them with just a paper, and now you are armed with great insight; don’t overthink the process.

 

My name is Fred Keena and I only work with clients that have great cultures and an employee-first mindset. While I provide solutions for my clients, I also make sure the match is right for my candidates in terms of their future career goals.  

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