I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing countless candidates, and I’m rooting for each one to be a perfect fit when I sit down to conduct an interview. I assure you that your next interviewer is your partner in the hiring process and wants you to be successful as much as you do.
Why am I telling you this? I want you to shift your perspective just a little as you walk into your next interview. Remember that your application and resume were reviewed, qualifications vetted, and you were selected as a solid candidate for the opportunity. Knowing this, realize that the interviewer is looking forward to spending time with you to confirm that you are indeed the right fit for the position.
How can you get your foot in the door to showcase your character, competence, and emotional quotient (EQ)? I find that a little preparation goes a long way. Candidates who have taken the time to sufficiently prepare for their application and interview are often the most successful. Once you have prepared, you can focus your energy on sharing your enthusiasm, confidence, and expertise during the interview.
Here are some tips to help you prepare and stand out for your next job opportunity.
Recruiters spend approximately five minutes reviewing each applicant’s resume. If you want your resume to stand out during review, I recommend tailoring it to the specific role and company. This extra effort is valuable, as it aligns your resume to what the recruiter is seeking. Also, make sure to quantify your accomplishments. I can assure you that your next interviewer is most interested in the contributions you will bring to their company. Including quantifiable data in your resume provides a picture of these accomplishments.
Ask yourself these three questions while updating your resume:
- How many?
- How much?
- How often?
Which of the following statements do you think is more effective?
Candidate 1: Made business development calls to secure new clients.
Candidate 2: Made an average of 200 business development calls per day to secure new client leads while effectively maintaining current client relationships.
Compile a Profile
Be prepared to answer the question, “What do you know about our company?” Interviewers appreciate candidates who have taken the time and initiative to learn about their organization and culture prior to the first interview. Review the company website and social channels — read their blogs or press announcements and compile a short company profile you can refer to during the interview. Do you know the mission statement and core values? What is the culture like? What excites you about the company? What have they worked on recently? And, of course, review the details about the role you are applying for to confirm alignment. Bottom line — extra preparation is key!
Practice a Pitch
There is no substitute for taking the time to practice your professional elevator pitch. A confident, polished, and succinct pitch gets an interviewer’s attention. I suggest practicing it (out loud) until you feel confident and articulate. Practicing mentally is also effective, but you’ll find hearing yourself out loud much more impactful.
I also encourage candidates to try a mock interview. Grab a partner and simulate the interview environment — in person, by phone, or via video conference. You can easily find questions online that relate to your industry or role. Have your partner ask questions you’ll likely encounter and answer them in real time. If you stumble on a question in the mock interview, keep moving forward just as you would in the actual interview. It’s great practice and gives you the opportunity to consider how you would answer differently next time. This builds your confidence, which will shine through during your actual interview. Again — plan, practice, and prepare.
Use the mock interview to identify and polish examples that showcase your accomplishments and their impacts. Interviewers ask behavioral questions and want you to share situations where you achieved great results, collaborated seamlessly, or overcame obstacles. Relatable anecdotes will highlight your personality. Whether a story or short answer, remember to use the STAR approach when responding to a question.
Small Talk Samurai
At ttcInnovations, we start our interviews with a little small talk to establish rapport and connectivity. We want to set a conversational tone for the interview, yet we are also evaluating the candidate’s ability to connect authentically during this exchange. Is the candidate personable and engaging? Are they a good listener and effective communicator? Remember: Every moment matters in an interview.
Smile Like You’re on Camera
Practice smiling for your interviews, as it sets an optimistic tone. Did you know a smile encourages positive thoughts about you? Remember to smile — even when interviewing over the phone. The interviewer will hear it on the other end from the tone of your voice. Say cheese!
What’s your professional passion that motivates you each day? Is there something specific about this role that excites you? Be ready to share it. This is something interviewers definitely want to hear. Ask yourself, “Where do I shine and really showcase my talents?” Most of the time, the answer aligns with your strengths.
Struggling to pinpoint the answer? You might want to consider doing a personal SWOT analysis to assess your strengths and accomplishments, which could help spark what motivates you. A personal SWOT is also a great preparation tool for an interview, as it not only identifies your strengths but also hones in on areas of improvement as well. This can help you prepare in the event that an interviewer asks you to discuss your weaknesses.
At ttcInnovations, we seek candidates with high EQ and self-awareness. Knowing where you shine and where you are still growing shows us that you know when to collaborate and how to handle various situations.
Be sure your enthusiasm comes through during the interview. Keep the interviewer engaged and wanting to hear your answers. The interview should be “give and take,” but you should be talking about 70% of the time.
Gather Your Goods
Have your resume and the job description at your fingertips for quick reference during the interview. Candidates are often asked to walk the interviewer through portions of the resume or answer specific questions about a time frame. Having this information readily available speaks to your preparation and boosts your confidence knowing you have your data easily accessible.
I also highly recommend using an Interview Prep form. This document can be used to log the information you compiled to prepare for this specific interview, such as your elevator pitch, the company profile, questions for the interviewer, accomplishments, and so on. You can download our Interview Prep form to help you stay organized and prepare for your next interview.
- Turn off your cell phone (or all unnecessary electronics).
- Enthusiasm stands out.
- Answer questions fully (no one-word answers, please).
- Avoid rambling:
- 30 seconds to one minute for questions
- Approximately three minutes for a story (five max)
- Share your selling point first, then give an example when possible.
- Be authentic.
- It’s okay to say you don’t know.
- Mirror the tone and body language of the interviewer.
- Positivity please!
- Refrain from any form of foul language.
- Refrain from asking how you did during the interview.
- Ask for next steps if the interviewer has not shared them.
- Don’t be shy — ask the interviewer questions.
- Bonus points: Send a thank you note.
If you follow the above strategies, you’ll be ready to ace your next interview.