Don't Mess Up the Interview

Don't Mess Up the Interview

The worst thing a hiring manager could say after an interview is, “well, they looked great on paper.”  The interview is obviously a vital part of the hiring process, and it should be taken extremely seriously.  One of the worst mistakes people make is thinking that since they can “interview well” they don’t have to prepare for the meeting.  Preparation is vital.  But what do you need to do to prepare?


Review your resume


When you sit for an interview, the person on the other side of the table (or video camera) is going to have your resume right in front if them.  Everything you have on there is fair game for them to ask you about, so you better be able to speak to everything you have on there.  If you padded your resume with things that you cannot speak to, or you said you did something you didn’t, and can’t discuss the item you wrote, the interview is not going to go well.  Your best bet is to be completely honest on your resume, so when you discuss a project you worked on, or a job you had, you can speak to it organically.  Good interviewers can tell when an answer is organic.


If you list a software package on your resume, you better be able to talk about your experience with that software package.  For example, if you list QuickBooks on your resume, and you get asked about it, if your answer is something to the effect of, “well, I actually haven’t used it all that much” then the chances of that interview ending on a positive note are pretty slim.


Watch your Body Language


90% of the perception an interviewer will get from you will be based on your body language.  You can say all the right things, but if you spend the entire interview with your arms crossed in front of you and your eyes are staring at the floor, the interviewer isn’t going to hear the right things you are saying.  They are going to see someone who is completely closed off, which is not the impression you want to leave.

The most important part of the interview is the first impression, and not just with the person you are interviewing with.  Your interview starts the second you walk in the building.  Interviewers will ask receptionists or assistants how you acted when you walked in.  Being personable, friendly, and engaging to everyone you interact with while you are in the building. 


Things like eye contact, posture, what you do with your hands, and even how you walk into the office and sit down are all things that the interviewer will notice whether it is consciously or subconsciously.


Do Your Homework


You should know something about the company you are interviewing with, and you should know why you want to work there.  The larger the company, the more information there is online regarding the company.  Look for information about the company and their culture so when you are asked, “why do you want to work here,” you can give an honest answer that shows that you are excited about the possibility of working there.  You aren’t expected to know everything there is about the company, but you should be able to speak to some level of detail as to why you want to be work there specifically.


Have Stories and Don’t Be Afraid of Being the Star of the Story


Your resume serves two main functions.  The first is to get you the interview, and the second is to be catalyst for conversation during the interview.  When you are asked questions related to things on your resume, the worst thing you can do is just repeat what you already have on your resume.  Have your stories ready and be sure you have all the facts of your story straight, so you communicate the story in a strong and confident way.


Also remember that while you might have been part of a team, your whole team is not interviewing for the new position.  Highlight the parts of the story where you rose above the rest.  Focus on your accomplishments.  If you tell a whole story where you did not shine, the story has no purpose in the interview.  They want to know you can work on a team, but they also want to know you will be a contributing member of the team and not just a sideliner who has nothing to offer.


Getting the interview is half the battle.  The other half is the preparation you put into the interview before you even get there.  The more prepared you are, the better your chances are of getting an offer.