Job interview success goes beyond just showing up to the meeting with a smile on your face and a firm handshake. You may only get one chance to “shoot your shot,” so preparation is essential.
Quoting Debbie Millman in Tim Farris’s podcast Tribe of Mentors, “Like everything else meaningful in life, it takes training…… You don’t just find and get a great job. You find and win a great job against a pool of very competitive candidates who may want the job as much, if not more than you do. Finding and winning a great job is a competitive sport that requires as much career athleticism and perseverance as making it to the Olympics.”
Here are five job interview hacks to help you stand out in a sea of applicants and win over the recruiter in the interview:
Find Common Ground
Did you know that you only have 385 seconds to make a first impression in an interview? According to research from Monster, job seekers have on average just six minutes and 25 seconds during the first meeting to impress potential employers. This means the small talk you make can boost your rapport and have a lasting effect on your interview success.
According to Indeed.com, a strong relationship between you and the interviewer can help you stand out as the better candidate, even if your skills and experience are similar to other candidates. Connecting with your interviewer also allows them to picture you in their work environment and culture.
Before your interview, you’ll want to find out who you’ll be meeting with. Get the name and title of the person with whom you’ll be interviewing, then see if you have any shared connections who can offer any insight into this person’s personality. For example, if you find out that the person is very data-driven, it will be vital for you to quantify impact and share results during the interview.
Pre-Interview Research Using LinkedIn
It’s also a good idea to visit their LinkedIn profile before the interview. I recommend reading through their “About Section,” which is how they describe themselves, prior work experience, volunteer work, and where they went to school.
Check out recommendations they’ve received from others and recommendations they’ve written. These are “clues” into their character. While on their LinkedIn profile, check to see if they’ve written any articles or shared a recent post. Their content can uncover what they value or what they are passionate about.
Lastly, do a simple search to see if they’ve been on any recent podcasts, published any articles, or have created YouTube videos.
I’ve found that great conversation rarely happens by accident. The level of research mentioned above will help you make meaningful small talk.
Time the Job Interview Right
In a perfect world, the recruiter will give you a choice between interview times. If the stars align, you should always pick the 10:00 am or 11:00 am spot. These times are after morning rush hour, so the odds of being stuck in traffic are less. You also aren’t facing the “afternoon slump.” And always beware of a Friday afternoon time spot. You risk the interviewer being distracted by weekend plans.
Practice Power Pauses
Pausing for 3-5 seconds before you answer an interview question gives you confidence and power over the situation. This time also allows you to gather your thoughts and align an answer with the pain points of the opportunity and company. Pausing also mimics “real life” conversation and can help create an environment that feels more natural.
Focus on Likeability
Like it or not, people hire people that they LIKE. Hiring the wrong person is an expensive mistake and managers recognize that they have to actually spend time with their employees. According to Psychology Today, “likeability” is the key predictor to success in all areas of life. Smiling often and demonstrating good listening skills are two easy ways to improve your likeability factor.
Send a Thank You Note
In our remote/digital world, an email thank you note is an appropriate way to show your gratitude for the interview opportunity. We encourage you to write a thoughtful note that will make Emily Post proud. We have several post interview templates to help you jumpstart your writing. Interested in more job interview hacks and resources? Check out our interview prep bundle!
Good luck in your interview! Find us on Twitter and let us know how it went.