So you just submitted your resume and cover letter for your dream job, and the hiring manager has already called you back–you’ve got an interview! You feel confident in your ability to communicate in a professional setting, and you know you are a perfect fit for the job. At the rate you’re going, you’ll be sitting in your own office and chatting up your new co-workers by this time next week. Right?
Not so fast. Even if you are one of the hiring manager’s top picks and you’re a natural talker, you shouldn’t take the interview lightly. It takes a lot of work to impress a hiring manager, and it’s easy to make a critical mistake at the interview stage. Recently, MVRC job coaches received training from Interview Skills 101, and it turns out there are a lot of things candidates can do to tip the scale in their favor–or ruin their chances of getting hired. The following is a list of interview Dos and Don’ts inspired by Interview Skills 101. Pay attention! How you handle the interview determines whether or not you get that dream job.
1. Do anticipate an employer’s need before that need goes public.
According to Interview Skills 101, about half of the job openings are not made public. Instead, they are filled by candidates already known to the employers. As a job seeker, it’s in your best interest do some networking and become familiar with potential employers. Volunteer, join organizations, attend events and talk with people so you learn about employment opportunities. Submit your resume to an employer even if a job isn’t available at the moment. Once there is a need the hiring manager will already have yours to pull from, and you could be first to the interview table.
2. Do address potential issues in the interview.
If you already know there is an issue with your candidacy when you sit down for an interview, it works in your favor to address the issue. For example, if you have a tattoo that can’t be covered, you will have a more difficult time finding a job. However, the battle is winnable if you are open with the hiring managers. Ask them to judge you on the quality of your application and your interview–not your appearance. Your ability to be honest and direct may turn the interview in your favor.
3. Do tell your story–well.
Candidates who make it far in the interview rounds can coherently express they are the right person for the job. You can do this by telling a story about your strengths, your experiences and how you overcame past challenges. Interview Skills 101 taught MVRC coaches that a person’s ability to understand a story is related to how truthful they believe it to be. So tell your story without pauses, conflicting events or irrelevant details. Otherwise, the interviewer could question the truth of your story. The best way make your story coherent is to brainstorm potential questions and practice saying your answers. You will gain an edge over the candidates less rehearsed than you.
As a side note: When telling your story, it’s important that you actually answer the question. Also, don’t take too much time answering or you’ll look like an ineffective communicator.
4. Don’t be too informal with your speech.
We want you to tell your story well, which helps if you feel comfortable. However, you shouldn’t use slang or jargon while you talk. This lesson is especially important for our veterans. The military uses many acronyms, and civilian employers won’t understand your story if you slip one in while you’re interviewing for a job. Also, if you discover the hiring manager is a veteran, that doesn’t mean you can use the acronyms. The manager might get the impression that you are not ready for a civilian career.
5. Don’t get flustered when hiring managers try to trick you.
Yes, the interviewers might try to throw you off your game. They want to see how you react under stress and could ask you personal or irrelevant questions. An example question provided by Interview Skills 101 was: How many Pizza Huts are there in the United States? The best thing to do is to remain calm and answer the question. If you get flustered, the hiring managers will think you can’t perform under pressure.
6. Don’t burn your bridges.
So you made it to the third round of interviews and they checked your references, but you still didn’t get the job. It’s discouraging when this happens, but it’s important to accept the bad news with a sense of professionalism. Thank the hiring manager for the opportunity, and if you still want to work for that company you should reassert your interest. Ask them to keep you in mind if another opportunity arises and ask them for feedback on your performance. The hiring manager will be impressed with your dedication and may keep your application on file for future openings. They could also pass your information along to other employers. You never know when a job opportunity will pop up–maybe it will start with a rejection.