Learn what to do before, during and after the interview to become the number one prospect with these top interview points.
Let’s face it; the job interview process can be painstaking and daunting. It is enough to make the most eloquent communicator sweat bullets.
Perhaps part of this is because we look at the process as one large function instead of a series of moving parts. To help with this, I have put together a list of 12 polishing points to help candidates win at interviewing.
I have broken the 12 points into three parts to simplify the process. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Polishing Point #1: Clean up your online image, also known as your brand. I cannot say this enough. Recruiters are searching candidates online before contacting them for the interview. It is essential that the online image/personal branding you are conveying is clean, professional and inviting to recruiters.
Polishing Point #2: Research the organization. This seems obvious, right? Right! However, in this instance I am not referring to the traditional research you complete to show you know the organization and can solve some of their problems. While this type of research is necessary, it is not the only organizational research you should be doing. The research I am referencing here relates to learning more about the company’s employer brand. A company’s employer brand to a candidate is the equivalent of a candidate’s brand to the employer.
Just as employers are seeking candidates with clean, professional and inviting personal brands, the candidate should be attracted to an employer brand that has a strong company culture, engaging work environment, competitive employee benefits and a solid employee value proposition. These components make for an appealing employer brand. Visit sites like Glassdoor, Indeed and Great Place to Work to research employer brands.
Polishing Point #3: Prepare a list of your strengths. If you are unsure of exactly where and how you best shine, I encourage you to take the Clifton Strengths Finder. Taking this assessment unlocks your unique strengths-based blueprint and gives ideas for action regarding what types of positions would be best suited to you. Being able to build a list of your strengths for interviews from this assessment builds a more succinct list of talking points for your interview. It also keeps you at the ready for the dreaded, strengths versus weakness question.
Polishing Point #4: Develop a winning resume OR refresh the resume you have. I like to refer to the resume as your handshake on paper. Have you ever met someone with a weak handshake? The weaker the handshake, the less likely you are feeling good about the conversation. Well, so it is with your resume. The weaker the resume, the less likely it is to get you the phone call to schedule the interview. For help with refreshing your resume, please email email@example.com.
Polishing Point #5: Create or update your LinkedIn profile. It is 2018; if you are out here without a LinkedIn profile, you are doing yourself and potential employers a grave disservice. Period. LinkedIn is designed to link you and opportunities together. You do not want to be on the outside looking in. If you don’t have a LinkedIn, create one. If you have a LinkedIn profile that is lackluster or has not been attended to in quite some time, let’s change that now. After all, LinkedIn could be the missing link to your next job interview and subsequently your dream job.
Polishing Point #6: Ever had someone show up at your home an hour early? Chances are you were still in the throes of preparation or just flat-out not ready to receive them. Recruiters, hiring managers and organizations are no different. Please don’t show up and hang out in their lobby for 30 minutes to an hour. It doesn’t bode well. It is best to arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. This is early enough to show you’re prompt and care about putting your best foot forward.
Polishing Point #7: Be personable, not personal. There is a difference. Legally, there are things a recruiter CANNOT ask you. Therefore, do not offer that information. The recruiter is NOT your friend. They are there to complete a task which is to hire the best talent/fit for the open position. Great recruiters will be warm, funny, interactive, calming and engaging. Don’t allow the comfort level they create to relax you completely and allow you to start divulging information about your marital status, your number of children, or your favorite childhood memories. You’re there to discuss the role and explore fit.
Polishing Point #8: We have not because we ask not, so ask questions. Formulate a list of questions (no more than 3-5) to ask the potential employer toward the end of your interview. Please remember, interviewing is ALWAYS a two-way street, and it is essential to remember this when given the opportunity to interview your potential employer. A few great questions to ask:
- Describe a typical day in this role. (Provides insight into the workload.)
- Is this position open due to attrition, promotion or growth? (Provides insight into the company’s Employee Value Proposition. Are they losing people, do they value internal promotion/talent development or are they a growing organization?)
- What do you enjoy most about working here? (Provides insight into the company culture.)
- What is your timeline for filling this role? (Provides insight into the lead-time in which you’ll be hearing from someone)
- May I have your contact information so that I may follow-up with you?
Important note: These questions can vary based on whom you’re speaking with and where you are in the interview process but this is a good base to start.
Polishing Point #9: Take notes and take heed. This process is a two-way street, remember? Make sure you are taking copious notes so you can take heed of what you’re hearing. Note taking could help you formulate a question or two (if you had difficulty preparing them in advance).
Polishing Point #10: Thank the interviewer for their time. Never leave an interview without thanking the interviewer for their time. While it is their job to interview you, it is solid interview etiquette to thank your interviewer for taking the time to speak with you.
Polishing Point #11: Send a thank you note. A handwritten thank you note will set you apart from the crowd of candidates as they work to narrow the selection pool. It could make the difference between the nod for the next step in the process or a declination letter. I am also a fan of the electronic thank you note. My process has been to send the “Thank You” email within 24-48 business hours after our interview. I then follow-up with my handwritten “Thank You” shortly after that.
Important note: Address and postage stamp your envelope before the interview. This way, upon conclusion of the interview all that is left to do is, write the note, stuff the note in the envelope and drop the note in the mail. One and done!
Polishing Point #12: Follow up and create a reference sheet. Following up can be a great way to display persistence, continued interest in the role and gain an update on the process. However, following-up too soon can be an epic failure. Be sure to adhere to what timeline the interviewer gives you regarding when they plan to circle back to you. When you haven’t heard from the organization by the time indicated, then it’s safe to send a follow-up note.
Lastly, create a reference sheet that includes two professional and one personal reference. Have this ready before your follow-up in the event the response from the company is favorable, and they desire to begin checking references.
I hope that you’ve found these useful in simplifying the interview process and providing insight on how on how to best prepare.
Aisha J. Patterson is the Founder of Professional Polishing Touch, a personal and professional development boutique firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. Professional Polishing Touch exists to help individuals unlock their gifts, polish their skills and deliver excellence to the marketplace by providing resume refreshes, LinkedIn profile updates, job interview coaching, workshop facilitation and public speaking. Feel free to connect with Aisha across social media.
The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize and create opportunities for African Americans in the region. Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook for local news, events, job postings, scholarships and a database of local Black-owned businesses.