It’s the day before your job interview. Are you prepared?
In Part 1 of this article, I discussed three of the five things you should do to prepare for a job interview. Let’s dive into the last two:
Don’t just know the name of your interviewer. Know background information about your interviewer!
So… there’s a significant line between gathering background information and stalking. Fortunately, platforms like LinkedIn has made it very simple to gather information about an interviewer without crossing or even approaching that line. Public profiles are designed for people to share professional information without revealing private details. Our culture of sharing can sometimes blur the line between professional social media and personal social media, but for the most part, we all adhere to the unwritten laws that separate these two platforms.
There should be no hesitation visiting the profile of an interviewer. Yes, depending on the interviewer’s plan, it will be clear that you stopped by to do a little profile snooping, but that’s a good thing. As we discussed, perception is key! You want to encourage the interviewer’s perception that you are eager and enthusiastic about the job position. Additionally, you want the interviewer to believe that you are prepared, and you’ve done your homework.
Let’s discuss the type of information you are looking for and what you will be sharing in the interview. Let’s start with what you won’t mention:
The interviewer’s age or age range.
Yes, it is very easy to add up work and college history, estimate graduation age, and produce a pretty accurate range for an interviewer’s age. However, this is useless information and should not be mentioned in any form or fashion during an interview. You can use this information to avoid statements that may have good intent but negative impact. For example, I was a part of a team conducting a phone interview with a candidate and the candidate made an insulting comment about millennials. Unfortunately for the candidate, my manager happened to be a millennial and she was immediately turned off by the candidate’s comment. A quick search of my manager’s profile would have revealed that the audience was not appropriate for the attempt at humor.
The interviewer’s college.
I know it’s tempting to try and form a connection with an interviewer based on your shared experiences at the same alma mater. However, initiating a conversation about the fact you attended the same school could be misread as an attempt to seek unearned favor. Your resume should feature your education, so it stands to reason that your interviewer knows that you both walked the halls of the same university. If the interviewer initiates a conversation about college, then go for it! If the interviewer starts singing an a capella version of your school song, then absolutely sing along! I know that connections and shared interests are excellent networking tools, but you are being interviewed for a job. You want your skill set, experience, and proficiency to land you the job, not your mutual love for your college football team.
The interviewer’s previous employment.
So, let me clarify this. If you both happened to work for the same company, then there’s an advantage to mentioning the cause and effect impact you had at that company. Since the interviewer is aware of the culture and mission of the company, there may be an opportunity to illustrate the value you add for the position and company you are interviewing for.
Never bad mouth a company. Never. No, not even companies that have suffered public scrutiny should be openly criticized during an interview. Even if the interviewer does not have a particular company listed in their work history on their profile, you can’t be positive that the interviewer doesn’t have some level of emotional equity in a company you are trashing. This goes for people, as well. If social media has taught us nothing, it has proven that information travels at the speed of light and the world is a lot smaller than we ever thought it was.
Don’t just follow-up. Have a plan prepared for your follow-up with information from the interview.
Usually interviews take place in blocks. You probably won’t be the only candidate interviewed for a position on the day of your interview. It is important to make a lasting impression for your interviewer that makes you stand out from the other candidates. Now, you want this to be a positive impression! Don’t hand out gifts or trinkets in an attempt to be memorable. Not only does it leave a bad impression, it borders on offering a bribe.
Do not waste your money on business cards that reiterate your resume. Unless you are an independent consultant vying for a contract, I can almost promise you that your business card announcing your unemployment will NOT be seen as value added. As a matter of fact, the impact is the exact opposite. You will reek of desperation and make it clear that you don’t want this exact job. You want any job. The problem with job seekers who want any job is that they remain on the job search after they are hired. The interviewer has your resume and any notes that were made during your interview.
Start your follow-up letter the day before and set a reminder to follow-up as soon as possible after the interview. Complete the letter with pertinent information from the interview. Don’t give a recap of the entire interview. Simply thank the interviewer for the time and consideration you were given. If there were any questions you couldn’t answer or acronyms you didn’t understand, provide clarity and clarification in the follow-up letter. Personalize the letter with a moment from the interview that made an impression on you and share your excitement for the next step. Provide links or attachments to your work samples but don’t go crazy. The last thing an interviewer wants to receive is a huge file that takes forever to download. Keep it simple and add a line towards the salutation that informs the interviewer that more examples of your work are available upon request.
The tone of your letter should be positive and forward-thinking. You’d be surprised how much of an impact a positive has on someone with hiring authority. No one wants to work with a pessimist. There was something in your resume that made you worthy of a second look; don’t negate the interviewer’s enthusiasm with negativity. Avoid the following statements:
I know you may have better qualified candidates but…
I know I didn’t answer all of your questions but…
Even if you don’t pick me, I appreciate…
Transform these negative statements into positive affirmations!
I have no doubt that I will be among the most qualified candidates when you are making your final decision.
I am looking forward to the opportunity to match my experience with new learning opportunities in this role.
I know picking the right candidate is your priority and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss my future roll on the team.
Remember, there’s a difference between arrogance and confidence. As excited as you are about securing the job, I can assure you the interviewer is just as excited about filling the position. Use a positive mindset to maintain that excitement for you both.
Unless the interviewer solicits your feedback, send your follow-up note to the recruiter or your point of contact and ask that it be forwarded to the interviewer.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. - Benjamin Franklin
After you’ve made all of your preparations, get a full night of rest. Avoid alcohol the night before and if you plan to have coffee the morning of your interview, slip a few mints in one of your pockets. (Of course, ensure nothing is in your mouth during your interview!)
It’s the little things that will set you apart from the other qualified candidates. In my experience, the resume proves you’re qualified for the job and the interview is to determine if you fit the culture and dynamics of the team. 40+ hours is a lot of time to spend with someone who lacks the passion, attention to detail, or enthusiasm to make a good impression during an interview. Take some time to ensure you are sending the right message to your future employer. You know you’re perfect for the position and you will make a huge impact at the company. By focusing on the details, you will be able to effectively remove all doubt that you and your new job are a perfect match!