Kate Kirschner, employer relationship manager at Creating IT Futures, recently called a person she was assisting in a job search.
Placing the call at 2:30 p.m., Kate spoke with the candidate for several minutes before they casually mentioned they had a 3 p.m. interview.
In person. At the company. And they hadn’t left the house yet.
“I panicked for them a bit at that point,” she said. “Because 20 minutes before you’re interviewing with a hiring manager, you should be pulling into that company’s parking lot or sitting in the lobby. You shouldn’t still be at your house, talking on the phone.”
Which leads Kirschner to interview tip no. 1….
1. Leave yourself plenty of time to reach your interview.
You may need to find parking, secure a parking pass, locate where the hiring manager is interviewing you, or formally check in and secure a visitor’s pass. All of that takes time. You also want to take one last look in a restroom mirror and prep by reviewing some final notes. And who knows what unforeseen issue can arise like unexpected traffic or car trouble? If you arrive at an interview too early, that’s OK – early is better than late. Just sit in your car and allow some time to pass before you head inside. Kirschner recommends aiming to arrive at your interview location a minimum of 30 minutes in advance.
A Good Interview Starts Before the Handshake
Kirschner recommends job candidates do the following before an interview to prepare for the conversation:
2. Research the company. Go to the company’s website, LinkedIn page, and other workplace-related websites to learn about the company’s culture.
Hiring managers aren’t just looking for someone capable of performing the work — they’re also looking for people who will mesh well into the company’s culture. And the truth is, you’ll feel better working in a culture you’re comfortable with, too. Learn what you can about the working environment of your potential employer, including talking to people who work there already.
Hiring managers also want to know how interested candidates are in their organization so learning information in advance shows initiative and engagement on your part.
“Doing this research also may spark some great questions to ask during the interview,” Kirschner said. “Keep in mind that review sites like Glassdoor are a good, quick way to obtain a snapshot of the organization — but take the information with a grain of salt. Disgruntled employees are more likely to complain, and reviews may not reflect the current state of the organization or the location you are considering.”
Make sure you understand what the job demands, and play close attention to the words chosen for the job posting. If the employer is looking for someone who is a “problem solver” or “works well independently,” be prepared to cite examples of how you fit that description.
“If any software or skills listed in the job posting aren’t familiar to you, Google those terms to get an idea of what they are and how they are used,” Kirschner said. “You might have experience with a similar software or skill to highlight in the interview. Also jot down any questions you have about the job description to clarify with the hiring manager.”
Make sure you ask for the hiring manager’s full name and if any other employees will be part of the interview. Then go to LinkedIn and learn what you can about the hiring manager(s) so you know exactly to whom you are speaking. There may be some common personal connections — or she may have worked in capacity you know something about. If your contact doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile, Google them.
Practice Saying What You Want to Say — Before You Say It
If it helps, Kirschner said, think of your interview as an audition — one where the hiring manager is deciding whether you’re the right person for the role. There will be other actors vying for the same spot, so you want to stand out by showing engagement and commitment.
Yes, it can feel silly, but asking yourself interview questions — Google it, there are tons out there — and responding aloud can help you feel more confident. You want to provide clear, concise responses — without rambling.
“It is also important to be natural, not rehearsed, so focus on getting the point across without focusing on using the exact wording each time,” Kirschner said.
Here’s one, for example: “If I am to succeed here, what achievements or milestones would you expect to see during my first 90 days on the job?”
“Another great question is, ‘What do you enjoy most about working at this organization?’” Kirschner said. “This allows the hiring manager to give you some insight on what she values and how well the organization fits with her values.”
Dress and Act The Part You Want
7. Dress appropriately.
And “appropriate” depends on corporate culture. If it’s a utility company managed by former military officers, you should probably wear buttoned-down business attire complete with shined, closed-toed leather shoes. If it’s a tech start-up that touts bringing your dog to work as a corporate benefit, casual slacks likely are fine.
“If you are doing research on the company, you should be able to get an idea — but when in doubt, dress up,” Kirschner said. “There’s also no shame in asking what the dress code is.”