This week I’m publishing our quarterly employer newsletter, a communication tool we use to engage with and educate employers. The feature article in this edition is advice on how to get employers can get the most out of an interview, and I thought you could pick up some tips as well.
The three keys I suggested employers do in an interview are: 1) ask candidate-specific questions, 2) push for examples and 3) give the candidate a genuine opportunity to ask questions. You should be aware of these so you can both prepare well for an effective interviewer is likely to throw at you, and also so you can find ways to inject quality responses to these questions and tactics even if they aren’t asked for.
By asking candidate-specific questions that could only be asked of you, rather than generic questions which could be asked of any of the candidates, employers can learn much more about your strengths, weaknesses, and whether you will be a good fit within their organization. What this means for you is to prepare to talk about every single point that is listed on your resume or mentioned in your cover letter. Nothing is off limits, so if there is a research paper you list on your resume from ten years ago you had better be able to talk about it like you wrote it yesterday.
When it comes to interview answers, without a doubt some of the strongest include an example or two to back up the initial response. So if you say your strength is that your organized, please make sure to give an example which highlights that fact. Even though I’m telling employers to push for examples, I also think it’s a point against you if they have to. Give examples before they ask, and you are sure to impress.
Finally, it is absolutely critical that you ask great questions of the interviewer. I’ve spoken about this before so I won’t go into it in too much depth here, but the time interviewers provide you to ask questions is the best and easiest moment to truly stand out. How well you know the employer, how interested you truly are, how you see yourself fitting in and how well you have listened thus far are all significant indicators your questions can signal to an interviewer.
Now, notice I said to be prepared not only for when these three keys are followed but also if they aren’t? What I mean is, I’m giving employers this advice because many of them do not do what I’m suggesting. And rather than believe you dodged a bullet if the employer doesn’t push you for examples or doesn’t leave time for you to ask questions, you should instead count that as a missed opportunity. Therefore, my advice to you is not to sit back and leave your fortunes in the interviewer’s hands. Answer (when appropriate) with specifics that would only apply to you, give examples without being asked and find ways to ask questions throughout the interview so that you don’t have to count on time remaining at the end.
Follow these interview tips and you can dramatically improve the impression you leave with an employer, and increase your chances at obtaining the position.
If you want to practice, we will be conducting mock interviews all day on Tuesday, February 14th. The signup sheet is here. Hopefully you can then put your new-found interview skills to work during Spring On-Campus Interviews! Happy Interviewing!
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