Who better to dish out some A+ advice than the person conducting the interview? We asked seasoned hiring managers for their no-fail tips on how to nail a job interview.
You know your resume like the back of your hand, you’ve dressed to impress, and you’ve done your meditative yoga breaths: When it comes to landing your dream job, you can never be too prepared. But since everyone’s heard the standard interview advice (send a handwritten thank you note!), we spoke to some real-life hiring managers to figure out what really sets a candidate apart today. Here, their best expert advice to help you stand in the interview process.
People often underestimate networking, or even view it in negative way, but the expert verdict is in: Networking is one of the best ways to find your next position, says Jennifer Gefsky, co-founder of Après, a site committed to help women return to the workforce by connecting companies to female talent. It can be anything from talking to people on the soccer field, connecting with former colleagues, or even just cold e-mailing someone at the company you’re interested in. Thankfully, the digital world (and LinkedIn) makes this easier than ever before. “Buying someone a cup of coffee can go a really long way,” Gefsky says. “People are really willing to help.”
Hone that elevator pitch.
According to Gefsky, all employers are looking for the same thing: An employee that’s great, committed, and loyal. One way she suggests concisely communicating you’re all three? Use a practiced elevator pitch that conveys that you know who you are, what you want to do, and how you’re going to help the particular company. It might take a lot of effort to create the perfect elevator pitch, but once you have it under your belt, it’s the best way to effectively communicate your enthusiasm and commitment.
Do your research.
It pays to go beyond just reading a company’s website, says Jane Turkewitz, president and chief talent officer at .comRecruiting, a placement agency that helps digital companies hire C-suite-level talent. In addition to looking at their website, Google the company to see what others have written about it. And then to go above and beyond, read the company’s press releases from the past six months. “Press releases tell you what the company is promoting and cares about most, so if you’re prepared to talk about those things, you have a leg up,” Turkewitz says.
These days, company culture plays a huge role in who actually gets hired, and often showing off the real you can be the ticket to employment. “[Personality is] a candidate’s ‘secret sauce’ that lands them the best opportunities,” says Christine DiDonato, founder of Career Revolution, a company focused on help young professionals in their early careers. “This means the most qualified job candidate doesn’t always get the job.” Rather than just checking for skills, hiring managers are also considering how a candidate’s sense of humor, work style, and values mesh with those of their employer to ensure longevity in the position. “Today’s companies are just as concerned with keeping the right talent as they are hiring them,” DiDonato says.
Ask mutually beneficial questions.
Not only are questions a sign of intelligent and interest, but they also are a good way for you to better evaluate the opportunity. Turkewitz recommends asking the hiring manager why they decided to come to the company. If the interviewer is quick and enthusiastic to answer, it’s a great sign that the employees are happy to work there. However, if he or she is unable to really answer the question, it could be a red flag that that company might not be somewhere you really want to work.
Show your passion.
You might be wary of coming off too eager, but Turkewitz actually recommends letting the interview know, point blank, that you want the job. “Enthusiasm is half the battle,” she says. Make sure to keep the momentum going by following up with a “thank you” e-mail after the interview. Use it to drive home some of the key points you discussed in your meeting (as well as why you’re the best for the job!).