How to Earn an Ovation from Your Interview Audience
Interviewees meet with as many as 10 employees throughout the interview process, not to mention the personnel a candidate may interact with in the hallways of the office walking to and from interviews. But how do you know how to maximize the impact of each impression, how to handle each interaction and who to follow up with? From the receptionist who welcomes you, to your future manager or the CEO, a candidate must always be “on” with whole interview audience. Your qualifications have earned you a place on the interview stage, and it is important to be prepared for everything.
Recruiter or HR Manager
From the moment your resume hits a recruiter’s or HR Manager’s inbox, your professional persona is under scrutiny. The subsequent correspondence with these talent acquisition professionals – whether via email or over the phone – should be professional, polished and well thought-out. Before speaking with the HR Manager or recruiter, familiarize yourself with the company, role, requested skill set and applicable background so you can highlight where you align during the discussion. Poke around on the company’s website to learn a little more about their offerings and company values, which could help you stand out in an interview if referenced. How you converse with the HR manager regarding the interview set-up is a reflection of how you will converse with potential clients, employees and company management. Make sure it’s buttoned up and polite! Keep in mind that these professionals are investing valuable time with you and a genuine thank you can leave a powerful impression.
We’ve heard on many occasions that the person who greets you can have a voice when evaluating candidates. A receptionist has been trusted to be a company’s first impression, and it is not uncommon for hiring managers to trust his or her instincts. Be kind to the administrator, accept water if they offer it and do not bring your own coffee. Some companies find it offensive if a candidate doesn’t think the company will offer them refreshment when they arrive. If weather requires one, remove your overcoat. Also, make sure you turn off all technology when you enter the office. Having your nose in your mobile device is a big turnoff to a receptionist who is working to make small talk.
Greet each person you see in the hallways. If introduced, shake their hand like you would your interviewer, make eye contact, and ask a question about working with the company. The more good impressions you give in the office, the better your chances of getting hired.
The Hiring Mangers
This portion of the process is your time to grab the interest of your potential future leadership. Practice potential Q&A’s, review background information on the interviewer if possible, and be prepared to discuss gaps in your work history. Think about how your past experiences will translate to this role. Practice out loud! Thinking an answer is different than speaking an answer. Enlist a friend to bounce questions off of you. One often overlooked portion of this process is body language. Interviewers learn a lot about candidates through body language. The simplest advice for mastering this form of communication? Mirror your interviewer – they’ll feel more comfortable if you’re reflecting their posture and engaging them.
The Head Honcho
Here’s your chance to impress the person strategically leading the organization. Be prepared to show off your knowledge of the company, highlighting how you align with the company values and mission. Most importantly, you want the president or CEO to come away knowing you’ll add value to their company. Get the message across by focusing on the organization, instead of yourself.
Even after the interview is complete, the process isn’t over. Send a handwritten thank you note to each person you meet, regardless of rank or title, within 24 hours of the interview. If done correctly, a great follow up note can seal the deal and land you a job. Include the assistant/receptionist if you have contact information and be sure each note is unique, mentioning something from your conversation with that person. It’s also a good opportunity to remind those you interviewed with why you’re a great fit for the position and the company.
Creating a lasting positive impression on the interview audience can extend beyond the evaluation for one role and help to grow your network of professional promoters. Landing your dream job is the goal, and earning a stronger network during the process can be a well earned bonus.