Getting an interview is a great first step to landing a job. But, how do you ensure you’re a top pick for the position when you meet face-to-face with the hiring manager? We asked four hiring professionals from Express Employment Professionals to share their secrets from the initial phone call to the follow-up in order to help you stand out in your next interview.
Secret #1: The first impression is hard to change.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Sometimes that first impression may be through a phone call or email, so don’t forget to act professional in non-face-to-face interactions. “A candidate who responds quickly and has a professional demeanor over the phone, in email, or on my voicemail is someone who usually excels in person,” said Lee Wenninger, owner of the Fishers, IN Express office.
Lauren Chandler, a recruiter at the Howell, MI Express office, agrees. “Did the person arrive on time, call back when they were supposed to, or follow up when they should have? This could be a big indicator of whether or not they will be a dependable employee,” she said. “They’re basically on an audition with us, and they have to pass our audition to get to the next one.”
If your first impression happens to be during an interview, be as professional as possible. Here are a few things Joe Paquette, a consultant at Express, looks for in an ideal candidate:
- Arrive ten minutes early.
- Dress appropriately.
- Bring clean copies of your resume and references.
- Bring something to take notes on.
- Leave your cell phone on silent, and keep it out of sight.
And, don’t forget to be respectful to the company’s receptionist or anyone you come in contact with. “I always ask staff members how they were treated by someone who is applying internally,” Joe said.
Secret #2: The reason you’re looking for a job matters to employers.
Before your interview, you may want to ask yourself why you’re looking for a job. For many jobseekers, finding a job is essential because they aren’t currently working. But, if you’re looking for a job due to other reasons, be honest about why you’re searching. If you indicate on your resume that you’re “looking for additional opportunities,” some hiring managers might see this as a disguise for more serious reasons, like challenges or issues working with a team member or manager.
“I dive into past work history to look for patterns,” Joe said. “I ask the candidate what they think their previous or current supervisor would say about them personally, and I follow up with that supervisor to see if their thoughts are the same.”
If you’re looking for a new job due to challenges in your current one, turn it into a positive. Emphasize how your past experiences have prepped you to become successful in the role you’re interviewing for and give helpful examples.
Secret #3: Asking questions shows interest in the job.
If you land an interview, be prepared to not only answer questions, but to ask some of your own as well. According to Joe, asking questions throughout the interview process shows that you’re interested in the position and driven to succeed. To get ahead of the game on this hiring manager secret, remember to:
- Research the company you’re applying for and make a note of important information, like the date they were founded, the name of the CEO, and the company’s core values.
- If you’re given the name of your interviewer beforehand, research them as well. Find out about their educational background and interests in case you can use them in the conversation.
- Develop a list of questions you may have about the company, the role you’re interviewing for, or the hiring process.
Showing interest in the job or company you’re applying for goes a long way, according to Carrie Smith, a recruiter for the Howell, MI Express office. “If they seem uninterested in the opportunity to be here, I find myself being uninterested in them as well.”
And, when you’re answering a question, try not to talk forever. “Nothing takes you out of the top category quicker than not being able to get to the point. Answer the question, then elaborate if needed,” Lauren said.
Secret #4: A follow-up note is very important.
Following up after an interview is important to hiring managers. Send an email or letter after your interview to say thanks and provide any details you may have forgotten during the interview. And, don’t forget to emphasize your interest in the position. If you don’t have the email address for your interviewer, do some research to find their contact information or call the company and ask for it.
If your interviewer gives you something to do after the interview, like performing a test or providing a sample of your work, do it. And, do it quickly. According to Joe, giving an interviewee a task lets hiring managers see how much time, effort, and thought the candidate puts into that task and if they are someone who can take direction. If you don’t complete the work you’re given, it could put the brakes on your interview process.
“I run from someone who doesn’t complete the task or sends me something without a lot of thought put into it,” Joe said. “It’s fine not to understand the task, but someone who is serious about the job will follow up to get more details if they’re stuck.”
How do you ensure you’re a top pick during an interview? Share with us in the comments section below.
Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.