Once a company narrows down the candidate pool to a group of people they want to meet, and you are one of them, it’s time to start thinking about your next steps. Only one person can be chosen in the end. When all things are equal, what makes you stand out?
Finding strategic and creative ways to land job interviews is half the battle. Once you are chosen for an interview, it’s not always going to be enough to arrive early, smile at the right times, answer the questions properly, ask the right questions, and then conduct all the proper follow-up tasks. Chances are you are going up against other candidates who will also be doing those same things. Now is the time to go that extra mile.
The best proactive job interview strategies are somewhat subtle in nature and just flow with the rest of the process. The following are the top five strategies 80% of candidates do not utilize:
1. Confirm your interview.
If you have at least a few days between when you set up your interview and when it actually takes place, use the extra time to your advantage. Call or e-mail to confirm the interview, and let them know you are really looking forward to it. Not very many candidates do this, yet it’s these little acts of professionalism that matter.
2. Develop a rapport with the people who interview you.
Typically interviews (including phone interviews), start out with some small talk. Don’t just answer questions asked of you, ask them questions too and get a lighthearted conversation going! Ask them how they are doing and maybe share a lighthearted story. Try to help take the rigid formality of a job interview down a notch so that the conversation can flow easier.
If any of the interviewers share something of some level of significance, be creative and use that information in further communications. Your thank-you letter to that person could briefly mention something that had come up.
For example, if an interviewer mentioned that his or her child was sick, why not briefly mention in your thank-you letter you hope his or her child is feeling better? Who wouldn’t appreciate that?
3. Ask if you can have a tour of the office/building/plant, and so on.
This is especially effective if the company has a manufacturing facility and you can ask a lot of questions about their products and how they are made. Regardless, this is a great way to show that you have strong interest in the company. While on the tour, bring up several things that you know about the company (you have done your homework, right?) and ask questions about them. Take notice of things you see and either compliment them or ask questions about them.
4. Make it clear you are interested in the job and the company and not “what’s in it for me?”
Try not to ask questions or makes statements that make it clear that you are only interested in how this job will affect you. Employers want individuals who care about the company. If it doesn’t come up in the interview, ask if you can learn about the company’s values and mission statement and talk about how it aligns with yours.
The values and mission statement are (or should be!) a very important part of a company’s culture. So few people ask about this stuff! Ask about how your job fits into the department and in the company as a whole. Show interest in what the company actually does. If you spend most of your time talking and asking about all the things that pertain to you, you will not be impressing anyone even if you provide otherwise good answers to the questions.
5. Send personalized thank-you letters to every person who was in the interview.
Personalized means personal and unique to each person who was in the interview. Make it different than the others–reference communication items that are specific to that person if you can. This is a great approach, different from just sending a standard copy/paste thank-you letter to them all.
Many candidates do send separate e-mails to each interviewer but the content is the same. Thank-you e-mails can and will get forwarded to others at times and when some were forwarded to me, I found it to be very impressive if the content was different from the one I received.
Handwritten ones are a great idea as well. It’s more personal which is a nice touch. If you can spare the time to go all out, hand write them and drop them off the same day or the next day, you should go for it!
It’s little things like this that break you apart from the masses and help you really stand out. Sure, some of these are a little extra work. But if it helps you get the job, isn’t it worth it?
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