One thing I’ve learnt after a long time in this business is that the interviewer and the interviewee have something in common – both want you to succeed in getting the job. These are some tips to enable you to show your best side.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Not only research the company’s products (their website/social media) and who’s going to interview you (LinkedIn) but also do a drive-by to know where you’re physically going.
There’s nothing worse than trying to duck out of your current job undetected, to then spin into a panic, adding extra stress of not knowing where exactly the company location is and where you’re going to park….
FIND OUT IF YOU SHARE ANY COMMON CONTACTS
Let’s face it - if you have a mutual friend or business contact the company is more likely to HIRE YOU as there’s significant LESS RISK taking on a 'known quantity’! This could be anyone - a neighbour, old work colleague, family friend and name-dropping never hurts if you know them to be well respected in the organisation….
RESEARCH THE ROLE
Find out as much as possible about the role and how it fits into the company, current trends in the market / recent news / media attention with the company or the specific technology / domain - you want to come across as CURRENT and ON-THE-BALL - someone who’s a ‘Knowledge worker'!
NEVER BE LATE
You’ve got ONE SHOT to get it right! Or too EARLY for that matter….turn up into reception 10 minutes before your meeting (if you’re earlier then sit in your car or go for a walk around the block to calm the nerves) and be positive and friendly to reception…when interviewing consultants I often asked reception / our secretary what their first impressions was of the candidate? Check out any awards or accolades in reception that might act as a nice icebreaker conversation…it shows awareness and interest. My first recruitment boss would make candidates wait in the interview room for 5 minutes and see if they noticed the one (and only) framed press release about our company….
DOUBLE CHECK THE TIME & DATE
You won’t be the first or the last to turn up 10 minutes before the appointed time on the wrong day or week!
Have a simple email address i.e. your name so you can be found easily in the Recruiter, HR or Line Manager’s inbox. Ask for their business card and drop a polite thank you email after the interview thanking them for their time & why you're keen on the job – it will put you above the rest instantly.
Find out if they're 'suity' or smart casual….there’s nothing worse than being under-dressed….so play it smart and be on the safe side…NO ONE DIDN’T GET THE JOB FOR BEING TOO WELL DRESSED…but pull up in your stubbies & jandals and you better be able to pull code out of where the sun don’t shine…now go buy a new shirt or shoes! You’ll feel great and pumped for the interview!
People HIRE people they like and we tend to get on better with friendly, positive people…it costs you nothing and let’s face it - it’s a far better way to approach life…In saying that ‘MIRRORING’ is an important technique when interviewing. You should match your Interviewer’s body language and pace of speech / type of language to align to them….Remember you’ll be working with them so they need to like you...
Everyone gets nervous, it’s just how you handle it. When I'm presenting I like to do as much research / preparation as I can and then I feel ‘I’ve done as much as I can and thus I’m well prepared’. Often you find interviewers are just regular, friendly people who will put you at ease as THEY WANT YOU TO GET THE JOB so they can finish their search….so give them every reason to say YES!
PREPARE 8-12 QUESTIONS TO ASK AT THE END
You can ask 2-3 killer questions that are different in content to the info you’ve already discussed so you can FINISH STRONGLY. In psychology we have the primacy & recent effect - like your Mother taught you - first impressions and last impressions are important, so remember a firm handshake to start & great questions to finish which will show you’re interested in the position, company & working for them.
My favourite question….’What do you enjoy about working here’? or ‘What attracted you to the company’? Often that will get the interviewer talking about themselves…you might find out about some commonalities - similar companies you’ve previously worked at, cities or technologies, and as humans this is very gratifying and will leave a lasting impression of you as a great candidate and someone they might want on their team.
If you’re feeling confident you might want to ask ‘What concerns do you have in my ability to perform the role? This gives you an opportunity to cover off any objections they have. If you can cover off these objections you may then want to ask what are the next steps? Or it could even be 'When do I start?' if you’re feeling especially confident. Although in some cultures / roles this is expected. In my first recruitment role I failed to ‘ask for the job’ and it meant I had to do a further interview and presentation to secure the role. But that's experience for you!
And remember always explore ALL options. Some of the least interesting roles on paper have turned out to be the most rewarding jobs I've accepted!
May the force be with you
Paul is Founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment & HR company specialising in recruiting IT roles within software, web, mobile, development & networks in Christchurch & South Island of New Zealand.