Does anyone really like interviews? I don’t know of anyone of who jumps out of bed in the morning and thinks, “I am so excited about my interview today. It will be a fun and carefree time.” But, it’s a necessary part of the career advancement process.
What is the primary purpose of an interview? That depends on what side you are on – the interviewer or the interviewee. If you are interviewing for the position, especially one you really want, the purpose is to sell yourself. You want to leave the interview with the interviewer thinking, “we have found our person.”
How do you go about proving you are the one to hire? How do you prove to the company that not only do they want you, but they actually need you?
The Two Things Interviewers Look for in Interviewees
With the right interview preparation and follow-up, you can significantly increase your odds of winning the interview and demonstrating that you are just the person this company has been missing. At the end of the day, employers look for two key things when they interview someone for a position:
- Will you add value?
- Will you be a cultural fit?
How do you go about proving these two things? How do you ace your interview? It is all about preparation and follow-up. Here’s how to ace your next interview and prove to the interviewer that they need you on their team.
Step #1: Prepping For the Interview
The key to proving to a company that they need you is to know what they are looking for in a candidate. You need to know what the job requires and how your experiences meet those needs. This is where all the pre-interview preparation comes into play. You need to prep, prep, prep!
- Research the company, position and interviewers
- Understand the position and its requirements then align your skill set and experience accordingly
- Research the company culture and be prepared to share why it appeals to you and how you will fit in
- Make a list of questions ahead of time – this is as much about you learning about them as them learning about you.
- Know yourself – take online strengths assessments and understand your results; tie your strengths to the position
- Be prepared to answer questions
- Practice out loud in the mirror
- Make sure all your online profiles are updated
Remember, the interviewer is looking for ways you will add value to the company and if you will fit into the company culture. Make sure you know how to answers these two questions before you go into the interview.
Step #2: Put Your Best Foot Forward During the Interview
“Finding a job that is a good fit is as much about you selecting the right company as it is about them selecting the right candidate.”
― Miles Anthony Smith, Becoming Generation Flux: Why Traditional Career Planning is Dead: How to be Agile, Adapt to Ambiguity, and Develop Resilience
So you got yourself in the room with the interviewer(s). Give it your all and perform your best. You have hopefully done the prep work, so now it is just about communicating why the company needs to hire YOU.
- Arrive 15 minutes early
- Dress appropriately for the corporate culture
- Make sure you have a firm handshake
- Be aware of your and the interviewer’s body language
- Be personable and genuine
- Listen carefully and actively
- Clarify ambiguous questions
- Restate questions as a statement in response
- Relate skills, strengths, and background to the position
- Ask thoughtful questions
- Thank interviewers for their time
Before you leave, ask the interviewers if there are any areas that need clarification. Restate how you bring value to the company and how you fit into the company culture. Close the interview by asking if there are any concerns or issues that would prevent you from moving onto the next round of interviews or receiving a job offer.
Step 3: Following Through Is Key
Personal excellence can be achieved by a visionary goal, through planning, dedicated execution, and total follow-through. ~ Gerald Ford
The minute you walk out that door, start following up. This is probably the easiest part of the interviewing process.
- Immediately write down the key issues discussed
- Send thank-you email within 24 hours
- Mail hand-written note within 24 hours
- Include strengths & experiences that align with position in follow-up correspondence
- Explain how you bring value to the company
- Restate how you fit into company culture
Follow these three steps and you will increase your chances of acing that interview & proving the company needs YOU.