Best Interview Tips for Candidates

#1 Be On Time

“Punctuality is the politeness of kings.” Louis XVII of France

If it’s good enough for royalty, it’s good enough for your job interview. Being on time feels like advice so obvious, no one should have to give it anymore. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Punctuality shows respect for a company’s time and resources; you can tell a company all about your character, but being on time is a way to demonstrate it.

Interviewing on the phone? Be expecting the call; don’t be surprised by it. Be friendly, respectful, and as transparent as possible. Recruiters, whether for a company or an agency, have conducted enough interviews to know when you’re not being upfront with them.

#2 Do Your Homework

“Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.” – Henry Ford

We’ve called some clueless candidates, and it’s a huge red flag. If you haven’t had enough interest in a company to find out who they are and the basics of how they operate, it’s difficult to prove that you are truly interested in the job they are offering.

Have the job description from the ad in front of you as you talk with the interviewer. Know what position it is for which you are being interviewed, and be ready to offer an informed response to the question, “Do you know anything about our company?” Something more than, “Yes, I’ve done my research,” and never, “No, I don’t know anything about your company.”

Know your audience when you are applying in person; you should look the part. Dress professionally, and if the dress code seems to vary between business and business casual, always opt for the more formal attire. Once again, you are communicating respect. Jeans and a t-shirt tells a company that you didn’t place any special value on this interview, but professional attire says you’re ready to get to work immediately.

#3 Be Prepared

“To be prepared is half the victory.” – Miguel de Cervantes

Depending on how familiar you are with current interview procedures and questions, you may or may not need to brush up with some practice questions. These can easily be found online, and while they may not be the questions you end up being asked, they will help you gain confidence in speaking clearly with interviewers.

Be ready to give results from your past roles. This should include specific examples and avoid vague, overreaching explanations. This portion of the interview is where you, the candidate, are selling yourself to the recruiter or company. Your resume got you in the door, and now is your chance to bring it home. Do this succinctly and sincerely, explaining why you want the opportunity and why you are the best choice for the company.

If you are applying for a position that is different from roles you’ve filled in the past, plan on explaining how your experience is transferrable to the new position. As professional recruiters, we have selected candidates who have a strong resume – perhaps including excellent leadership skills or management experience – to fill a role in an industry that is different from other positions they’ve held. These candidates have been able to explain and later demonstrate how their experience transfers to the new job.

If you have gaps in your resume, be ready to explain them. Even if you don’t have gaps, be ready to share why you moved from one company to another. Again, dishonesty can sink you. Most companies are now including background checks in their hiring process, so be ready to answer honestly.

Finally, be prepared to give professional references. “Professional” includes personnel from previous jobs who have held a position above you in the company and who had the opportunity to evaluate your work performance. Other co-workers or friends should not be your primary references.

#4 Ask Questions in the Interview

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” -Voltaire

Questions demonstrate that you are engaged in the conversation and truly interested in the position. The “I just need a job” attitude does nothing to differentiate you from other candidates. You get one chance to turn the tables and interview the company; let them know what is important to you personally or professionally that makes you want to know specifics about the opportunity or the company. Questions give the company insight into who you are and what you value.

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