Congratulations, you have just secured the opportunity to wow a potential employer! To make the best impression possible, here are our top tips to ace that interview:
- Understand the organization.
- Know who the decision-maker and interviewers are.
- Have a mental portfolio of your accomplishments.
- Prepare questions for the employer.
- Plan to set yourself apart.
Understand the organization
The first thing a hiring manager may ask is: “What do you know about us?” and “Why do you want to work for our company”? Hiring managers use this as a test to gauge how interested you are in working for their company and how well you come prepared to meetings. Some managers think that if a candidate doesn’t bother to spend the time to research the firm, then they are a definite “Do Not Hire.”
Check out the organization’s website to get a general sense of what they are about:
- What products/services are offered?
- Who is their target audience?
- Where are their office locations?
- Who are the key members of management?
- Look at their latest news and press releases and think about how this news may affect the position you applied for. For example, perhaps they just opened a new plant and need someone who can quickly step into a staffing role.
- Check out their social media pages; these can give you a good sense of the tone of their brand and important recent events.
- Know the industry.
- Identify key competitors.
- Find an industry-specific journal and get up to speed on current trends.
Know who the decision-maker and interviewers are
Before your interview, ask the recruiter (or whoever set up the interview), who it is you’ll be meeting with and their role in the company. Then research each interviewer on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn will tell you:
- What they do in the company.
- Their work history.
- Specialized groups they may be involved in.
With this information, you could turn an interview around by relating a tidbit from the interviewer’s background to your own career. Not only does this show you did your homework, but it will also help build rapport and differentiate yourself from other candidates.
Have a mental portfolio of your accomplishments
Think back over your professional history and highlight your relevant experience, skills and strengths.
Determine the top five skills the job requires based on the job posting:
- Review specific examples from your work history that prove you can meet and exceed expectations.
- If you don’t have personal experience to draw from, prepare a case study on the company or a close competitor that shows your logic and problem-solving ability.
Know your resume:
- Be confident about your dates of employment, job responsibilities and accomplishments.
Be prepared for behavioral interview questions:
- These are the “Tell me about a time when…” questions.
- Structure your answers with the CAR method: Circumstance, Action, Result.
- Confidently articulate what the problem was, how you resolved it and describe the outcome.
- Highlight your logic and problem-solving skills.
- Stay on point.
Learn more about how to ace behavioural interview questions in this webinar recording.
Prepare questions for the employer
You should ask questions that:
- Demonstrate your research – “Does the recent announcement of X have any impact on the role?”
- Determine whether the fit is right – “How would you describe your company’s culture?
- Follow up on an earlier question – “Can you give me some examples of…?”
- Show you’re thinking to the future – “What does success look like in this role at the 30, 60, 90 day mark?”
Asking questions shows you are thinking ahead about the job and how certain developments may impact the business. This demonstrates to an employer that you are a “smart” candidate. You are already looking ahead at how to address possible future challenges and how you would fit into the team.
Plan to set yourself apart
- Bring extra copies of your resume.
- Bring a pen and paper to take notes.
- Bring a current portfolio of your work with copies to leave behind (especially important for creative positions, but can be valuable in any field).
- Dress professionally.
- Make sure you have the correct address and a contact number in case of any issues. Make plans for parking or transit in advance so you are not stressed right before your interview. Give yourself adequate transportation time and account for potential weather impacts, especially in the winter.
- Arrive about ten minutes early. Being late gives an immediate negative impression, but being drastically early is awkward for the receptionist and interviewer!