Turning a Good Interview into a Great One

Turning a Good Interview into a Great One

Q. I’ve been on several interviews and I thought they went really well, but I never heard back.  Am I missing something?  Am I reading the interviewer wrong?  What’s the real criteria to having a great interview?

A. Congratulations on getting to the interview stage of the job search process.  You are doing things correctly up to this point or you wouldn’t be making it this far.  You will need to have proof that it was a good interview, as opposed to just thinking it went well.  Now the question to answer is what is happening to stall you at this final stage?  You need to identify the obstacles and move them out to get the job.  It is frustrating to get this far and not to hear back one way or the other.  Ensuring that communication continues to the end can be impacted from the beginning of the process so follow these steps.

  • Be nice to everyone you meet – including secretaries, doormen, and garage attendants.  You never know who gets a vote on new hires.  Even if no one is watching, it’s the right thing to do.
  • Dress right.  Suit up, minimal makeup.  Don’t have your presentation be a shock to company representatives.
  • Do your research.  Know about the company.  There is no excuse to not understand the issues, challenges and successes of the last few years.  Having an idea of the company’s history, financials and direction for the future will give you a great deal of insight into what it’s like to work there. This activity is a huge differentiator.
  • Ask questions.  Identify why they brought you in to interview.  What needs do they have that your background and skills address?  Make sure you explore these skills so they see how you can make an impact on the company and bring real value to the role.  Your ability to address these needs will be part of your “close.”
  • Actively listen and feel free to take notes.  Nodding and making eye contact will assure the interviewer that you are engaged and interested in what they are saying; don’t forget to smile.
  • Tell them you are interested in the job, and explain why you’ll be great in the role.  Enthusiasm makes a world of difference.
  • Ask if there are any issues.  This scary part opens you up to the negatives, but why not deal with it now if there are challenges.  If there are, explain how you are a fast learner, or what else you have done that shows you have more experience.
  • Inquire about “next steps” at the conclusion of the interview.  This will give you an idea of the process and timing.  You might say, “If I don’t hear from you can I call you next week?”  And do it.
  • Send a “Thank You” email or hand-written note to every person you met within 24 hours.  Express your appreciation and reiterate what you have to offer and the value you bring to the job.

Unfortunately, there is no single formula for having a great interview.  However, with the right preparation and approach during and after the interview, you can increase your chances of landing your dream job.

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