Just like cramming for an exam, job seekers spend a lot of time before an interview preparing to ace the “test.” And that’s a good thing. But you also don’t want to lose sight of some key things that can bring your scheduled job interview to a screeching halt – or at least slant it against you from the git go!
We all know it’s not easy getting that interview, so your job – if you want to get the job – is to do all you can to make sure you walk into the interview room with everyone still rooting for you to do well.
Pay attention to your communication with the company
Once you’ve gotten the interview, it’s easy to think that whatever communication goes on beforehand doesn’t “count.” But everything you say or do right up until you walk into the interview room (and after) can count just as much as anything you say during the actual interview.
- Emails to the company – If you send an email, please make sure the grammar and spelling are correct. And use real words … not online abbreviations. This is the place to show respect to the person you are contacting – and that you understand business communication, since you’ll be expected to use it once hired.
- Talking to the receptionist or anyone at the company – Think of all communication, even a quick phone call, as the way you want yourself to be seen by the entire company. People share interactions and impressions. So be polite, friendly, and respectful of their time. If you need to make a note of what you want to say or were asked to tell them (in case you get nervous), by all means do so before calling.
Each interaction is a chance to make a new ally and potential champion for you to be hired!
Be careful when digging for an inside advantage
Trying to find an internal contact who will help you stand out from other candidates can be a good thing – and can certainly help you get to the interview in the first place. But after you have the interview scheduled, be smart about how and when you contact people at the company.
I remember one time when I was asked to help with the hiring process, three separate people came to me saying they had been contacted by a woman we were about to interview. She got their names from someone who used to work in our department. Rather than thinking “oooh how clever and resourceful”, here’s how they reacted:
- “Why is she bothering me now? We already agreed to interview her.”
- “Her tone was rather pushy and annoying.”
- “I’m not even sure I want to meet with her any more. Something about the way she emailed all of us makes me wonder if she has a good feel for how to deal with people in a professional workplace.”
And it was hard not to think about all that as we sat together in the interview room. We did our best to give her the benefit of the doubt, but she got off on the wrong foot and then pushed hard selling herself in the interview.
If you’re curious … she contacted a couple more people after the interview, and tried to get THEM on her side. It was just too much. Needless to say, she didn’t get the job.
Don’t out-clever yourself or work too hard to get every duck in a row even before your interview. Sometimes less is more.
NOTE: Not to be confused with networking and relationship building that can often get you where a resume alone wouldn’t!
Think twice about sending a gift or something to “wow” them
Sometimes the right little extra included along with your resume and cover letter can grab an employer’s attention in a good way. (Although be aware that with email or online submissions this can actually mess things up, or worse, get your email thrown into the “spam” pile for attachments or links.)
Perhaps you include a creative one-page infographic of your skills and experience as they match the employer’s needs. Or a list of your publications and special projects that don’t quite fit in a 2-page resume. Or a sample page of some of your work, if you’re an artist or designer.
Just don’t overdo or overwhelm. If they’re interested, then you can offer to send these things (good to ask first) when they will definitely pay attention.
BUT … after you have the interview scheduled (or after the interview itself), don’t try to buy their love with little gifts or extra items sent to impress them. Sure you’ll stand out from the rest of the interviewees … but not necessarily in a good way.
Your online and offline reputation
Once you have the interview lined up, more people will start checking around about you to see if they can find something your resume and cover letter don’t tell them. Yes … many places do this even before scheduling an interview, but after an interview is scheduled, your documents wind up in new hands unleashing new curiosity.
- Online reputation – Make sure to google your name and check for the latest online videos or statements that might come up in search results. You should do this regularly during a job search (and beyond), but if there is anything new that could hurt your chances, try to get it removed. At least you can prepare to respond if it comes up.
- Offline reputation – By this, I mean what people would say about you if contacted by someone at the new company. More than once, I’ve seen a situation where someone at the new company has heard of the candidate or knows people at their former company. You can’t do much about this, but having solid references at those companies can help undo any misinformation. Of course, the best defense is to build the best reputation possible, each place you go. Show lots of support, respect, and no bridge burning!
- Resume accuracy – Once again, because more people will be looking at your resume, if there are any misstatements they can come back to bite you. So review what you submitted to this particular employer, and be prepared to respond to questions about anything that might not exactly be true. You’re better off correcting as if it were merely an oversight, than being seen as someone who lies on a resume.
A few more thoughts
If you already have an job interview lined up, this is probably not the time to stir things up. Your focus should be on preparing yourself as best you can for the interview. And continuing to look for more interviews, just in case.
And, while I gave you some things to think about, PLEASE don’t let them make you even more nervous. You’ve done your best up to now, and, if you are aware of the possibilities, you then have a chance to handle any questions or requests for more information as they arise.
Just be yourself. And go into that job interview knowing your history (with good stories of your achievements to make your points), what the job requires, and as many places as possible where their needs and what you have to offer match.
More tips to help you prepare for your interview:
More articles you might enjoy: