Published September 16, 2013 on LinkedIn by Jeff Haden
In the best interviews, job candidates say a lot and interviewers very little – after all, the interview is about the candidate, not the interviewer.
But there are a few things interviewers would like to tell job candidates well before the interview starts.
1. I want you to be likeable.
Obvious? Sure, but also critical. I want to work with people I like and who in turn like me.
So: I want you to smile. I want you to make eye contact, sit forward in your chair, and be enthusiastic. The employer-employee relationship truly is a relationship — and that relationship starts with the interview (if not before.)
A candidate who makes a great first impression and sparks a real connection instantly becomes a big fish in a very small short-list pond. You may have solid qualifications, but if I don’t think I’ll enjoy working with you, I’m probably not going to hire you.
Life is too short.
2. I don’t want you to immediately say you want the job.
Oh, I do want you to want the job — but not before you really know what the job entails. I may need you to work 60-hour weeks, or travel 80% of the time, or report to someone with less experience than you… so sit tight for a bit.
No matter how much research you’ve done, you can’t know you want the job until you know everything possible about the job.
3. I want you to stand out….
A sad truth of interviewing is that later I often don’t recall, unless I refer to my notes, a significant amount about some of the candidates. (Unfair? Sure. Reality? Absolutely.)
The more people I interview for a job and the more spread out those interviews, the more likely I am to remember a candidate by impressions rather than by a long list of facts.
So when I meet with staff to discuss potential candidates I might initially refer to someone as, “the guy with the bizarre stainless steel briefcase,” or “the woman who does triathlons,” or “the gentleman who grew up in Lichtenstein.”
In short, I may remember you by “hooks” – whether flattering or unflattering – so use that to your advantage. Your hook could be your clothing, or an outside interest, or an unusual fact about your upbringing or career. Better yet your hook could be the project you pulled off in half the expected time or the huge sale you made.
Instead of letting me choose, give me one or two notable ways to remember you.
4. … but not for being negative.
5. I want you to ask lots of questions about what really matters to you…
6. … but only if the majority of those questions relate to real work.
7. I love when you bring a “project.”
8. At the end I want you to ask for the job… and I want to know why.
9. I want you to follow up… especially if it’s genuine.
Additional articles by Jeff Haden:
- 5 Questions Great Job Candidates Ask
- Best Interview Technique You Never Use
- 14 Revealing Interview Questions
(Photo courtesy flickr user bpsusf)