RULE #1 – Until an offer is actually made, the job interview is always, always, always about the hiring company, not about you – the job candidate!
At the end of the hiring process, of course, you will need to be as sold on the company, your future boss, the team and the company’s culture as much as they are sold on you. However, until you actually become the candidate of choice, like it or not, it is your responsibility to do 100% of the selling. Until that time, it is about the company’s needs, problems and challenges and, and in particular, how you may be a solution to those needs, problems and challenges, not about your job needs/desires.
RULE #2 – The objective of every interview is to get the next interview.
Until the final interview, the objective of every interview is simply to get the next one. Only by doing that can your candidacy advance to the finish line. In fact, if a company ever wants to make you an offer after just one interview, proceed with caution. Why is the company so anxious? Is the job for real? In turn, at the end of each interview, don’t “close” on the job, either. The company will wonder why you are so anxious. Instead, at the end of each interview, close on the next step. For example, at the end of the initial telephone interview, ask a question along these lines: “Based upon our conversation today, is there anything that would prevent us from meeting face-to-face?”
RULE #3 – Avoid casting “Shadows on the Wall.”
Never, never say or do anything negative during the interview. This is what is referred to as casting “shadows on the wall.” Here is an example: Suppose the hiring manager asks why you would consider moving a thousand miles to take a new job, if it was offered, and your response was something like this: “I need to get as far away from my present job as possible because my boss and I are constantly at each other’s throats.” Ouch! You’d be eliminated on the spot, at least in the hiring manager’s mind. Remember, when it comes to a job interview, anything you say or do can and will be used against you!
RULE #4 – Adopt the Boy Scout Motto.
The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared,” and that is certainly what you better be when you go into a job interview today. Be prepared to anticipate most questions you can expect to be asked during the interview and then answer those questions very succinctly, powerfully, and in a way that will clearly brand you as being a candidate that at least has potential value to the hiring company.
RULE #5 – Everyone—and I do mean everyone—listens to radio station WIIFM.
Yes, the most popular, most-listened to “radio station” is WIIFM, “What’s In It For Me?” You would be wise to keep that in mind when dealing with other people, especially hiring managers! Show genuine interest in the hiring manager (and the company he or she represents), and the way you can accomplish that is by having done your homework. Did you, for example, Google® the hiring manager? Did you research him or her on LinkedIn® or ZoomInfo®? Did you read the latest press releases from the company?
The candidate who shows interest, knowledge and curiosity during a job interview is the candidate most likely to be branded new, different, better, and you should know the positive implications of that kind of perception.
RULE #6 – Amp up your energy!
It’s certainly not necessary (or desired!) that you appear to be “over the top” during a job interview, but clearly you should be at your very best and on high alert! After all, in a sense, you are the “main attraction” here, and no hiring manager I’ve ever known wants to hire a dullard or a bore.
RULE #7 – Never appear “stand-offish” or play “hard to get.”
Demonstrate genuine interest in and commitment to getting the job by immediately sending a “Thank You” note to the person who interviewed you. If possible, make the note both personal and professional, by picking two to three points from the conversation and highlighting them in your “Thank You” note.
If time is not of the essence, your note should be handwritten and sent via USPS (“snail mail”). Email should always be your second choice for sending the note.
Remember, though, once you send the “Thank You” note, any immediate, additional follow up attempting to “nudge” the process along, such as leaving a voice mail and saying something like, “Just calling to follow-up on where things are in the process,” etc., weakens your position. Seven to ten days after the interview, if you still haven’t heard anything, an appropriate follow up could consist of an email in which you mention something about the company, e.g., “Pam, I don’t know if you saw the attached article on the new disinfectant XYZ company is coming out with or not. Here’s the link in case it is of interest. . . .”
RULE #8 – Practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more.
Look at a job interview the same way an actor or actress looks at a play or movie audition because, after all, that is precisely what a job interview is, an audition to see if you can “get the part!” Record your answers to anticipated interview questions and then play them back. Video yourself and then watch how you will appear to others. If you’re like most people, you won’t believe how you sound and look before practicing and honing your skills.
“You only get ONE chance to make a good first impression.”