As a hiring manager, I sit through interviews for potential candidates applying to add value to our team. Some are great interviews, and others leave you wondering why did we even bother. Interviews are very much a dating experience. Two parties sitting across from each other, knowing very little about one another,and thinking if they could make this relationship last and be happy together. Having been on both sides of the equation, I will tell you that both parties are equally in control of the situation. In this post, I hope to give you some tips to nail that interview and at least leave a good impression.
1. The Interview Starts Before "The Interview"
Before you submit your resumé and cover letter, you should have already put in ground work to impress your prospective employer. Be sure to spend time on a personal blog, code sample (preferably on GitHub), or even some kind of public visibility. Unless you are applying for a job with the Central Intelligence Agency, I am extremely weary of an individual that has no digital footprint.
2. That F***ing Resumé
About that resumé, be sure to include only your latest work. If you have a long and storied career, then trim it down. I don't care that you used to do VB6 apps. Tell your prospective employer what you are doing now or most recently. You may also want to look at what previously pertains to the job you are applying for and modify your resumé accordingly. If you are applying for a .NET job and have plenty of .NET experience, feel free to leave off your proficiency with PHP. Too many skills are noise.
The quality and preciseness of a resumé will beat a resumé filled with irrelevant buzzwords every time.
3. Do Your Research
The internet is a wonderful thing. As a hiring manager, it allows me to cyber-stalk you but at the same time, it lets you do the same to me. Imagine you are super-spy, you wouldn't waltz right into danger would you? Of course not! Do your research on the company, job, culture, people, even the company location. Anything you can do to know more will help you get through awkward moments in an interview. You should do all the research you can, short of dressing as a janitor and breaking into the office.
Again, I cannot stress enough the preparation before the interview. DO THE RESEARCH. The research will help in the interview immensely.
4. The Interview
You got an interview, congratulations. You probably did something right and this should be the easy part. Most likely, the interviewer is just as nervous as you are; remember this is a professional dating situation. Talk confidently about what you are working on now, what your ideal work situation would be, and ask questions about what the company is looking for in a candidate. Keep the conversation flowing and both parties will enjoy the time.
5a. You Didn't Get The Job
If you did everything I mentioned and felt like you nailed the interview but still didn't get an offer, don't worry. Sometimes teams are looking for a specific kind of individual and you may not have been the right fit. That doesn't mean you aren't good, it just means not this time.
5b. You Don't Want The Job
It is ok to turn down an offer or to realize during the interview that the job isn't what you want. Don't feel pressured or obligated to work anywhere you don't want to.
5c. You Got The Job!
Congratulations! You tailored your resumé for the job you were applying for, did your homework, and had a great interview. The time you spent working on yourself has paid off with an exciting opportunity to further your career and a chance to provide for all your loved ones.
To Summarize here are my tips:
- Tailor your resumé and cover letter to each job you are applying for.
- Diligently do your research on the job, company, culture, and team members.
- Show up prepared for the interview with topics of conversation and questions.
- Realize you hold as much power as the interviewer.
Good luck job seeking, and I hope to hear from you. But be warned, if you ignore my advice and I receive your 15-page resumé I will feed it to my dog.