In today’s competitive job market, prospective hires need to do everything in their power to stand out from the crowd if they want to land the position of their choice. In more forgiving employment opportunities applicants simply didn’t have to work as hard as they do today. An applicant with an impressive work history could coast on their list of past experiences without contextualizing their trajectory. A prospective hire could dazzle an interviewer with little more than energy and enthusiasm. But those days are long past, and if you want to acquire a great position, or often any position, in today’s market, then you need to truly shine in your interviews.
To help you out, we’ve prepared the following tips to help you truly shine during your interviews.
1. Preparation is Key
There’s an old maxim stating wars are won or lost well before either army arrives at the battlefield, and the same essential sentiment applies to interviews. Whether you succeed during an interview depends on how well you prepare for it.
2. Get specific about what you’ve accomplished
Most candidates arrive at job interviews with a list of the jobs they’ve held and vague allusions to what they achieved while holding those positions. Instead of relying on imprecise statements such as “I managed the company’s social networking presence” make a clear, measurable and provable declaration such as “Between August 2010 and July 2011 I increased our base of followers from 287 to 3,164.”
3. Get specific about what you will do for them
Likewise, you need to make similarly specific statements when explaining to your potential employer what you plan on providing the organization. What sounds more impressive and more appealing to you, a prospective hire making the unfounded promise “I will increase the size of your social media base” or a prospective hire providing you a detailed outline of how exactly they will increase your social media base, including precise tactics, time lines and projections for a year’s worth of work?
4. Don’t talk too much
Too many prospective hires approach interviews like they’re one-man shows. They talk and talk and talk endlessly, bluntly selling themselves in a never-ending torrent of verbal babble and braggadocio. But interviews aren’t monologues- they are dialogues. A good interview is a conversation and you need to treat it the same as any other discussion you hold in your life. Make sure both you and your interviewer share in the flow of asking questions, providing responses, and exploring meaningful discussions.
5. Ask question, always
According to many experts, failing to ask any questions of their own is the number one mistake prospects make during interviews. Most potential hires forget job interviews are about more than an employer evaluating a potential hire- job interviews are also about an employee evaluating whether they even want this specific job in the first place. Failing to ask any questions during an interview signals to employers that you are, essentially, just looking for the first job you can get.
Take a look at a recent article we wrote that highlights the top questions that you should ask during an interview.
6. Make it personal
At the end of the day all hiring decisions are personal decisions, made by people with their own biases, hopes, dreams, worries and concerns. The more you can connect with the human side of this seemingly formal process, the better chance you have of becoming more than just another resume shuffling through the pile.
7. Put off salary negotiation until the end
If you asked a group of prospects what they found most intimidating about the process of interviewing for jobs, many of them would quickly and clearly point to salary negotiations. Many potential employees have no idea what their work is worth and the average prospect is so desperate for a position they willingly accept whatever offer their potential employer tosses to them.
Today’s employers understand the sensitive set of emotions and factors of self-esteem wrapped up in the complicated net of salary negotiation. And potential employers are not only willing to use this understanding to low-ball their interview subjects, they will also evaluate the strength of your character and your personal feelings of self worth by evaluating how you respond to salary negotiation. Politely, firmly, and confidently putting off salary negotiations until you and your employer are positive you are the right fit for the job is the best way to proceed through this thorny issue.
8. If you want the job, then follow up
Yes, it’s a cliche to say follow up is the most important element of any job interview. But some cliches exist for a reason, and the simple action of following up with everyone you meet during your job interview has more than earned its potent reputation. Following up does more than keep your name and positive impression fresh in your prospective employer’s mind, it demonstrates your attention to detail, your perseverance and the thorough nature of your character- traits that any employer worth working for values highly.
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