In the course of my career, I have interviewed hundreds of prospective employees, and I’m always amazed by the way so many of them get the process so wrong. At the end of the day, the interview is really about one thing: Making the person across the table fall in love with you. Here are a few ideas to help you make that happen.
Don’t be a Diva
The single biggest mistake many job candidates make is to walk in with attitude. Even if you think the company would be lucky to have you, and even if – based on your talents and work history – you’re right, no one wants to work with a diva. You’ve been given thirty minutes to impress the interviewer, but the wrong attitude will lose you the job in the first five.
Dress for Success
Another deal-killer is poor aesthetics. You may think you’re the next Mark Zuckerberg, and for all I know you are, but I’m not going to be impressed if you come to see me in a hoodie and torn jeans. We’re pretty casual at RadiumOne – it’s rare to see that many ties in our offices – but if you’re coming in for an interview – remember the importance of a first impression.
Body language is also crucial. Be articulate – not boring. Sagging shoulders, slouching, fidgeting – those behaviors make people uncomfortable, and who wants to work with someone that makes them uncomfortable? Be courteous. Smile. Make eye-contact. And treat everyone with respect, including everyone you meet. After all, they may be asked for their opinions after you’ve left the building.
Another common mistake is to come to the interview unprepared. I think a prospective employee should take the time to do his or her homework, and this will become evident through the quality of his questions. When someone asks who they’re going to be working with, is curious about the specifics of the job, and talks about opportunities for growth, I feel I’m dealing with a person who’s there for the long-haul, and that’s the kind of person I want to invest in.
You should also be prepared to answer the interviewer’s questions, and these tend to be fairly predictable: Why do you want this job? Where do you see yourself in three years? What are your greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses? If you aren’t prepared, and if you’re struggling to formulate answers, that’s not going to impress anyone. Think of the job interview as a test, and try to prepare for it before you come through the door.
This is a job interview; try to remember that. Small-talk is fine, but this is not the time and place for it. The interviewer doesn’t want to hear about your crazy night at the bar, about the relationship that broke your heart, or about your horrible last boss. Focus on the job, and on yourself as the right person for the job. Be professional. Inappropriate talk and inappropriate behaviors can and will be used against you. And speaking of inappropriate behaviors, remember that everything you post online is viewable to everyone – including an employer. So if you have any embarrassing pictures of yourself, don’t post them. Or change your privacy settings. Better yet, change your privacy settings today.
Don’t Talk Money
Another common mistake is to talk about compensation. If the interviewer brings up money, fine, but don’t go there unless invited. The money conversation will take place in due course, once you’ve been offered the job. And money shouldn’t be the deciding factor, anyway. If you take the job, you’ll have plenty of chances to show the company what you’re worth. And if you turn out to be a rock star, you’re going to get rock star wages.
This may be the hardest advice of all. You’re in there to get the job, and you’re worried about blowing it. Plus there’s so much to think about: Don’t be a diva. Be prepared. Dress like you want the job. Watch the small- talk. Don’t discuss compensation.
Still, at the end of the day, you’re human. Your potential new boss wants to see the person they’re hiring, not the person you think you want to see. Don’t sell anyone a phony version of yourself. If you’re there it’s because you impressed them enough to get the interview, and they’re just as eager to get to know you, as you are to get the job. Don’t overthink the situation, and don’t try to sell a manufactured version of yourself. Authenticity always wins out.
The Follow Up
Finally, I am always surprised when people fail to follow up after the interview. All it takes is a short, polite email, in which you thank the interviewer for his time and remind him or her that you are seriously interested in the job. Sometimes a candidate doesn’t do well in the room, but I hear from them later in the day and I decide to have a second look. That call or email tell me two things: The candidate has proper etiquette, and they WANT the job.