It’s unlikely that P. T. Barnum was referring to the hiring process when he said, “Always leave them wanting more.” Nevertheless, this is a great philosophy to apply to your job search. You want to stand apart from your competition, knock your interview out of the park, and most importantly, impress the hiring manager.
A positive and lingering impression can be the difference between your resume landing in the ‘must hire’ pile versus the ‘maybe’ pile. You want to leave the hiring manager wanting to find out more about you and your abilities. Sounds easy, right? Here are 5 ways you can score that A+ impression.
1. come prepared
Gather as much information as you can about the organization and the role using LinkedIn, Google and the job posting itself. You’d be surprised how often job applicants skip reading the job description thoroughly before attending an interview. Don’t be this person. Know the job you’re applying for, and why you want the role. Don’t think ‘because it’s a job that pays me’ is going to cut it, either. If you’re not legitimately interested in the role at hand, it’s probably not worth your time or your interviewer’s.
When you read the job description, note their use of language. Is it formal and professional? Or is it light and conversational? What does the organization say about itself on its website? What do their logo and the visuals on their website suggest they care about? These are clues for you to use in the interview. Most organizations also post their mission statement online, which can provide clear indicators of their company culture on the web and social media channels.
Identify four or five of the most important skills or attributes in the job posting and be prepared to relate them to your experience during your job interview. Think about occasions when you demonstrated these skills successfully and what you learned about the experience. We’re betting you’re going to be asked a question along these lines, and you’ll be glad you prepared. Giving examples that demonstrate you as a creative, strategic thinker (who prepared ahead of time!) is your ticket to landing the job.
2. ask insightful questions
There’s a good chance that once your interview is wrapping up, your interviewer will ask if you have any questions. Use this opportunity! Nothing says ‘I’m not really interested in this job’ than a too-quick-to-answer ‘No’. You might think you’re keeping things simple for your interviewer, but it can actually come across as curt, bored or disinterested. Be prepared with a few questions, and ask about something that hasn’t been covered in the interview, like:
- How is performance measured?
- What qualities determine a candidate’s success in this role?
- How does this role contribute to the company’s goals and strategies for success?
- What opportunities for growth and development exist in this organization?
The more insightful and thoughtful your questions, the more interested and interesting you’ll seem to the interviewer. Avoid questions solely about salary are perks. You can ask about these things, but mix in a few other questions, too! Not sure what questions are appropriate? These 12 questions that are probably best avoided.
Hiring managers can usually tell when a candidate is truly interested in the opportunity; they want to hire people who want to be there. Let them know that person is you.
3. use body language to convey interest
Body language matters. A lot. In fact, did you know that speech only makes up about 10% of communication? Body language, facial expressions, posture, tone and eye contact are also important cues that we often take for granted. According to Forbes, the average first impression takes about 4 minutes to form and all of these behaviours factor in. Acting in a professional manner sends a powerful message about who you are and how you behave in the world.
Sit straight, lean forward a bit (a social cue that indicates interest) and focus your attention on the interviewer. Smile and be as animated as you are naturally. Avoid too many hand gestures (hyperactive) or crossing your arms (too closed off). Also be aware of whatever personal habits you might have when you’re nervous; if you tend to talk faster when nervous, slow it down a bit. Avoid fidgeting, hair twisting, or scratching. With all that in mind, remember to breathe – it’ll help you relax and stay focused. If you’re overly nervous or tense, you’ll make others in the room the same.
4. own who you are
Now that we’ve got your nervous habits out of the way (and made you hyper-aware of them!) remember to bring your true self to the interview. The image you project in an interview should only be a few degrees from who the hiring manager sees if they hire you. You want to be hired as yourself, not a plastic caricature! Be honest about who you are, and there’ll be no surprises on your first day on the job.
So be real about who you are, while using discretion to smooth over any rough edges. If you’re wild and crazy, you can say: “I enjoy people and love to socialize. But I also know when it’s time to focus and work hard. An example is when I…” Or “I’m naturally reserved but I’ve learned how to speak up at meetings and share my ideas. For example...” It may feel like you’re stating the obvious but saying it out loud puts you in control of the direction the interview takes around subjects that are sensitive to you.
5. send a thank-you note or email after the interview
While some people may feel this is redundant and unnecessary, it falls into the ‘make yourself memorable’ category. Not only does a thank-you note display good manners, it’s another follow-up opportunity for you to outline what you understand about the company and the position, and reiterate what skills and experience you bring to the table that make you the perfect candidate. Doing so tells the interviewer you paid attention in the interview and invested time and effort into preparation. Need some help perfecting your thank you note? Check out our article on the subject.
A prospective employer is interested in you by virtue of your presence at the interview. Be memorable by demonstrating the value you’d bring to the organization. Let the hiring manager know what appeals to you about the role and the organization and how your qualities and experience make you the perfect fit. All these suggestions serve to help the hiring manager make the best hiring decision: bringing you on board!