To ace the interview and get the job, you need to impress the hiring manager. But just selling yourself won’t be enough to make it happen. In the end, sealing the deal means convincing the interviewer that you’re not only the best person to solve their problems, but also the person they want to work with every day.
Many candidates focus so intently on their resume and answering interview questions that they forget that the hiring process involves a lot of relationship building. But to get the job, you need to click with the person with the power to give you the position. And that means getting the hiring manager on your side.
Here’s how to do it:
Research the Company and the Interviewer
You might have heard the expression, “There are no stupid questions.” That might be true in other situations, but it’s definitely not true during a job interview. While it’s a good idea to come to your interview with a few questions to ask the hiring manager, one of them shouldn’t be, “Hey, what is it that you do here, anyway?”
Do your research before you go on the interview. Look at the company’s website, social media presence, and recent news stories. If you have contacts at the company, ask them for their insight into the organization.
Learn as much as you can about the employer’s products and services before you meet with their representatives.
Then, learn as much as you can about the interviewer. If you know their first and last name before the meeting, check out their LinkedIn profile and other social media accounts to find out what you have in common.
Maybe you went to the same school or root for the same sports team. Perhaps you have shared friends or once held similar jobs at a different company.
Look for points of connection that will help you foster a rapport.
Just don’t be creepy. You’re looking for ways to connect conversationally, not give the hiring manager reason to worry that you’re stalking them.
Manners matter, especially when you’re trying to make a good first impression. When it comes to job interview etiquette, the most important thing is to show that you know how to behave in a professional setting. That means dressing appropriately, bringing extra copies of your resume and references, and above all else, being on time. In the context of a job interview, “on time” means “early.” Do a trial run the day before your interview, so that you’re aware of any potential traffic or transportation issues and scope out a convenient coffee shop, in case you arrive too early to enter the building.
Listen and Understand
When you go on job interviews, do you listen to what the hiring manager has to say, or do you wait for your turn to speak? If you’re in the latter group, don’t be too hard on yourself. Job interviews are high-pressure situations. It’s understandable if you’re feeling nervous and eager to talk about your skills.
But listening is an important part of a job interview. Active listening techniques can help you draw out information, instead of just passively receiving what the interviewer is telling you. Active listening is also a soft skill that’s highly valued by employers; it shows that you’re a team player who communicates well with coworkers.
What does active listening entail? These techniques include restating information to show that you understand, using affirmations like “I see” and “I understand”—and most importantly, never interrupting.
Watch Your Body Language
Nonverbal communication conveys messages to your interviewer just as well as anything you say out loud.
To send the right messages, make sure your body language backs up what you intend to say.
That means not slouching, fidgeting, or staring, but making appropriate eye contact, smiling at the right times, and introducing yourself with a firm handshake.
Not sure if your body language is on point? Do a practice interview and record it using your phone or a video camera. Most people have habits that they’re unaware of having. You might be surprised at what you see.
Finally, above all else, remember that you’re there to have a conversation, not to deliver a monologue or grill the interviewer. To get the hiring manager on your side, let the conversation flow naturally.
Bring your questions, but be prepared to go “off-script” to follow up on interesting information as the interviewer shares it. Remember that one of your goals is to figure out if you want to work with these folks. You can’t do that if you’re reciting your resume or checking off items on a list.
Do Your Homework
Research the organization and the hiring manager before your interview.
Be Polite and Professional
Arrive at the interview on time, prepared to discuss the job and your qualifications, and dress appropriately.
Have a Conversation
Use active listening techniques and allow the conversation to flow naturally, instead of reading from a script of prepared questions.