After nearly a decade in staffing, Caleb Potter
knows a thing or two about job interviews. One of the biggest mistakes he sees candidates make is when they only prepare for the interview questions they think they’ll get—like the perfect answer describing their biggest weakness. “What you say is obviously important,” he said. “But how you say it, and what you do before and after you say it, is at least as essential to get right.”
So if you’re prepping for an upcoming interview, take some time to read through Caleb’s tips for getting it right—both in word and deed.
1. Be early. It’s basic but vital. If you’re doing an in-person interview, this means giving yourself plenty of time to account for traffic and finding parking. Doing a phone screen? Be on the call a couple minutes early, and make sure you’re in a quiet place that’s free of distractions… and definitely do not answer another incoming call or text.
2. Know the company and your own resume. Familiarize yourself with the organization and the position you’re applying for. When they ask, “What do you know about ______?” you should have an answer. If you’re working with a recruiter, they should have provided you with a pretty thorough background, so the question should be easy. You’ll also want to know your own resume well and have a copy of it in front of you, so if there are questions that reference “the top of page two,” you can quickly understand and respond.
3. Nervous is okay. It is completely normal to feel your nerves—this is your brain getting you ready to do well. Take a deep breath, smile, and be yourself.
4. Speak clearly and use examples. Answer questions with an example. If you’re asked, “Have you ever done XYZ?” you should respond along the lines of, “Yes, I do XYZ for ABC Company. I had to configure it using 123 tools, and was able to implement a complex work flow successfully.”
5. Use the two-sentence rule. You do not want to dominate an interview. Listen, and then give your reply in two sentences. Anything longer and you risk getting off topic. If you want to expand then do so, but be wise and ask, “Did I answer your question?” The manager will tell you, or might even ask you to continue—which is great. Then go two more sentences and stop and ask again.
6. Use the two-second rule. Wait one to two seconds after the interviewer is finished speaking before responding. Often, short pauses in speech indicate additional thought is needed. We have a tendency to fill that silence with a response which can interrupt their thought process and lead to lost communication. So wait a moment to ensure the interviewer is finished speaking and ready for your answer. It’ll also show that you’re listening and not just thinking about your response!
7. Have questions ready. When the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”—have some! Even if you really don’t, failing to ask a question looks like mark against you for many managers, so try something along the lines of, “What is the work environment like?” or “What would you see as the two most important things I can do in my first 30 days to make a positive impact?”
8. The toughest question. When an interview is coming to a close, I recommend asking, “Is there anything I have said in this interview or that you’ve read on my resume that would make you think I am not a fit for this position?”
THEN BE SILENT.
It may take the manager a minute to consider this and you do not want to interrupt. This gives you an opportunity to answer any objections she may have. It is also the single best way to find out if you had any miscommunication, and then correct it. On the other hand, he or she may say, “I really don’t have any. You sound great!”
9. Close with a “thank you,” and tell the manager you want the job (if you do). In my experience, only 25% of interviewees ask for the job, but 90% of managers hire based on enthusiasm for their position. The #1 determiner of enthusiasm is IF the candidate asks for the job. So, how do you do this? Simple: “Thank you so much for your time today. I’m really interested in working with you and your team. What are the next steps I can take to secure this position for myself?”
10. Call your recruiter. The moment the interview is over, call your recruiter. The client will be calling our office to discuss the interview, and the first question is always, “What did the candidate think about the position?” If we don’t have an answer, the manager may question your enthusiasm. If you have a job to get back to or know you won’t have much time, then arrange a quick call with your recruiter so we can still provide feedback to the manager.
Job interviews can be stressful, but if you decide ahead of time what you need to do and say it will go much more smoothly.
Need more advice about interviewing, resumes, or resignations? Check out our Career Suite.
Looking for a new opportunity in healthcare IT or open source? Check out our job board.