Job interviewing can be challenging for all involved. Candidates and interviewers alike often lack formal training on the process and each company has their own process. From the candidate perspective, interviews can be completely different from one to the next. Each interviewer has their own style and looks for different things – in some cases, you might get a strong “yes” and a strong “no” from people who were part of the same team interview with you.
The good news is that all interviews have the same goal – to decide whether the candidate is a good fit for the position. This means that interviewers are looking to figure out if you have the skills necessary to perform the job, whether you’ll fit in with the people you’ll potentially be working with and if your work ethic matches what the company is looking for. If you can convince each person that you meet with that the answers to all three of these questions are “yes” then you’ll probably get the job.
That oversimplifies things, but keep that in mind as we continue. Again, most candidates (and interviews) lack formal training in job interview skills so here are three things that you probably don’t know about job interviewing that can help you land the job.
1. The interview is more than just your visit to the employer:
Most candidates think that that interview starts the moment you walk in the door at the prospective employer and ends the moment you walk out the door. Wrong. I can go on and on about instances where a candidate was observed on the way either to or from the interview and observations made either made or broke the candidate’s chances. Once on the way to Boston for an interview, I sat next to someone on the train who ended being one of the people who interviewed me. So technically, the interview starts the moment you walk out your door.
2. Preparation for an interview is critical for your success:
I am amazed at how many people go on interviews with very little preparation. If you’re not spending several hours preparing for an interview, then you might as well not even bother showing up. Preparation is that important.
Over a decade ago, I worked for a dot com and we went through a growth spurt that caused me to conduct dozens of interviews. At least half of the candidates didn’t even look at the website that were we looking to hire them to work on. Back then, there were more jobs than people but these days that attitude won’t cut it. You need to research the company, the industry and the position. You need to ensure that you have the skills needed to perform the job and then some – because even if you’re a perfect fit, there are several other candidates that are also a perfect fit for that position. That’s where your preparation will give you an advantage.
So before you begin your journey to the prospective employer’s office, make sure you’ve done your homework. You’ll want to demonstrate your knowledge and show them that you’re serious about the position.
3. Sometimes, the best candidate doesn’t get the job:
Often, it’s the candidate that interviews the best that gets the job. By this, I mean depending on the company’s values, the interview team may compromise on one requirement in favor of another one. In several of the companies I’ve worked with, I’ve seen candidates with amazing qualifications lose out to less qualified applicant because the latter seemed to be a better fit for the team. I can think of a number of occasions where those of us that did the interviews debated over whether the candidate who could hit the ground running but seemed to be more a loner would be a better choice than the inexperienced but likable alternative that seems to work well with others.
Again, the key here is preparation. It’ll help you in being able to demonstrate you have strong work skills and that even though you may not already know everything, you’re learning. It’ll also help you answer questions better, demonstrate your qualifications and connect with your interviewer.
Job interviewing is tough, especially in a job market as competitive as today’s. You need every advantage to compete with the thousands of others seeking employment in your area. Qualified doesn’t cut it anymore, over-qualification is often needed. I’ve put together an audio program with my best tips and advice for job interviewing. It tells you exactly how to prepare, how to conduct yourself during the interview and even what to do after each interview to ensure that you improve from interview to interview. Additionally, it covers topics such as the different interview types, phone screens and following up. If you’ve never had any formal training in job interviewing or you feel like you’re just not getting anywhere with your interviews, it’s definitely worth checking out.
James Feudo owns the Boston Web Design Agency JVF Solutions and loves blogging about personal development and communication in his spare time.