It's inevitable sometimes candidates that are great fits for a company, culture, and specific job miss out on an offer due to unintentional mistakes made during an interview. We outline some of the best measures you can take before and during your interview to ensure you are a stand out candidate.
1. Research the Company
In almost every interview, the interviewer will ask the candidate to explain what they know about the organization or why they would want to work there. You want to make sure you're prepared to communicate some information on what the company does, their background, and other key details, especially when you factor in the importance of a strong positive first impression. This shows you've taken the time to do your homework and are genuinely interested and committed to getting the position.
2. Understand the Role and Why You Think You Are a Good Fit
It is imperative to review the job description for the role you're interviewing for. If you aren't able to explain a brief synopsis of the position when you're asked something like "What are your thoughts on this position," it won't be a good sign. One of our go-to questions to ask anyone we're interviewing is "What is your understanding of this position, and/or the priorities of this position, at this point?" Reviewing the job description a few times prior to an interview will help you better communicate why you're a good fit. Read the job description in full and write down a list of all the reasons you're qualified. This not only helps communicate qualifications, but can ease interview anxieties and increase confidence.
3. Have Questions Ready
Always have questions prepared; having questions ready shows that you are genuinely interested in the position. Make sure to have questions geared towards the role you are interviewing for. For example, if you're interviewing for a development role, asking about the breakdown between out-of-the-box and custom development, who does code reviews and unit testing, and what development methodology that group or team follows, would be good questions to ask. If all of your questions have been answered organically throughout the interview, you can always ask the interviewer to expand on certain aspects. We recommend asking at least 2-3 questions.
4. Work Hard to Show Your Qualifications
Managers need candidates who can come in and perform the responsibilities of the job. Most managers will consider candidates who don't have every requirement on their "wish list," if they can demonstrate that they can get ramped up and perform those key tasks. Most managers would rather hire an individual who has 70-80% of the requirements, knowledge, or skills, but that demonstrates strong initiative and learning capabilities over a candidate with 90-100% of the skillset that has minimal passion and initiative. At a user group meeting, a manager with 25+ years of experience managing teams stated that he's hired candidates with only 50% of the requirements. However they showed strong initiative and explained how they would gain the knowledge they needed to be successful in the job. We've found that most managers want candidates who can pick up the necessary skills within 2-3 months of being in the job.
5. Be Professional and Have a Good Attitude
There are various ways you can exhibit unprofessionalism during an interview. Examples of some of the major ones include profanity, speaking extremely negatively about past co-workers, clients, managers, answering or checking your phone, inappropriate clothing/attire, chewing gum, or being unkempt/unshaven. Even if the environment is more casual, the rule of thumb is typically dress business professional for interviews.
6. Develop Rapport With Your Interviewer
One of the best things you can try to do during an interview is to establish a connection with the interviewer. If you can find common ground, it can help develop rapport, and you'll likely be more memorable. Many interviewers, especially depending on the role the candidate is interviewing for, are looking for applicants to "make a connection" or "relate to them" at some point during the interview.
7. Practice Good Communication Techniques
Good communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal, are crucial. Non-verbal skills include eye contact, tone of our voice, or facial expressions. Sometimes candidates use verbal ticks or filler words such as "um", "you know", and "like" because they're either nervous or they're afraid of silence. It's much better to pause for a few seconds to gather your thoughts before you respond to the question over using filler words and coming off as not calm and confident. If you're worried about your use of verbal tics, ask someone to do a mock interview with you. The more prepared you are at answering common interview questions and explaining your background and qualifications, the more relaxed and confident you'll feel during the actual interview.
8. Clearly Explain Why You Are in the Job Market
Most managers want individuals who are looking for a long-term fit. Prior to an interview, prepare tactful explanations of why you've parted ways from each of your previous employers. Not having valid or decent reasoning prepared can be a major red flag to employers. To help with this, practice what you'd say in front of a mirror and make sure your answers are positive, even if your departure from a company was not.
9. Be Engaged
A recent study showed that one of the top reasons candidates don't get hired is a perceived lack of interest in the role. While unfortunate, this is something that's easily fixed. Going back to point #3, make sure you have questions prepared. Again, if you don't have questions, you'll likely be perceived as not being excited about the role. Interviewers want to hire people who will genuinely care about doing a good job, and interest is highly correlated with that. One of the questions we like to ask during interviews is "What caught your eye about this position?" or "What triggered your interest?" You can always proactively communicate your interest and excitement in a role, especially near the end of an interview. We encourage candidates to wrap up an interview demonstrating why they're excited about the position!
10. Avoid Rambling
Long-winded answers are usually a product of nerves. Keep in mind that interviewers are put off if they ask you a question, and you ramble on for 5-10 minutes. A recent IT Director of ours said "The average technical question I ask can be answered within 20-60 seconds." This is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind. If you're worried you're not answering the question as fully as the interviewer would like, you can say "Would you like me to clarify or expand on that?"