You’re excited! After sending out a million resumes, you finally got invited to an interview. The day arrives and you make your way to the location with your heart racing and butterflies in your stomach. 30 minutes later, you’re sitting down across from the interviewer. But you’re not smiling now. They’re asking questions that you don’t have a good answer to. You’re looking down at your resume a lot, trying to remember what you did, when and where. Then they ask if you have any questions for them and, frankly, you didn’t care to think of any. You just need a job, right?
Does that sound like you? There’s a good chance that is why you don’t hear from recruiters after your interviews. It isn’t enough to look good on paper. Sure, the paper is important. That’s what got you to the interview in the first place. But it’s your personal brand that recruiters when you get in the room. Your personality and ability to clearly show why you’ll be an asset to their company is what will get you the job–or at least a polite callback with the reasons why you weren’t selected.
When you show up for an interview barely knowing your own resume (much less anything much about the company), it tells an interviewer that you are simply after the paycheck and couldn’t care less about anything else. Now, you may really not care, but it’s your job to make it seem like you do. Otherwise, you’ll always lose to the candidate who does.
When applying for jobs, keep a list of the companies you apply to and make it a point to research all of them. Simply visiting their websites and social media pages is a great start. Be sure to check out their mission and vision statements, along with their about and team pages. Know who the top people are and how long the company has been around.
Another thing you can do (for jobs that are an upgrade or that you are especially interested in), you can call or stop by the front desk (anonymously) and try to get a feel for the culture and atmosphere of the organization. This will also help you avoid being late, as you’ll know exactly where you’re going on interview day.
With all this research, you are bound to come up with some questions. Remember, you should be looking to see if they are a good fit for you too. It’s not always just about the money. Unless you’re desperate, there is no point taking a job that you know you’re probably going to quit in a few months because you already hate it there. Take your resume, the job description, and a blank piece of paper.
Be sure to memorize your resume. Know it back and front, so that you won’t need to look at it once during the interview to speak about your past experiences. Pick through the description of the job you applied for and jot down examples from your past of how you fulfilled similar duties and solved major problems, saved the company money, or some other notable achievement. Practice these so you can speak about them smoothly.
Another thing: dress appropriately. I don’t mean that you have to wear a suit and tie. This is where your research will come in handy again. Dress just a step above the role you’re going for. Applying to be a dishwasher? Go with a nice pair of slacks and a shirt or blouse. Look presentable, but not runway ready. That would work for a modeling audition. Applied for a stylist role? Definitely go for a clean, simple look and put the most effort into your hairstyle. I’m sure you get the idea. The idea is to show the employer in living, vivid color that you’re right for the position.
Last, but not least, remember that you should be interviewing an employer as much as they are interviewing you. Keep an eye out for red flags, such as a poor fit with their office culture or being asked personal and/or illegal questions during the interview. Things like these may lead you to turn down an employment offer. There may be a time when you’ll have to do that, as surprising as that seems. Just remember this: an interview is a two-way information gathering session. Make sure that you are armed with facts, questions, and a good understanding of what is expected of you. Know what you want from them as well.