Getting a job in today’s market can be very difficult. As a recruiter people are always coming up to me and telling me their horror stories of how they are out of work, can’t get an interview or aren't being made offers. I sympathize with them because I know how hard it can be. If I post a position I am being flooded with resumes. The majority of the people applying are hoping to get a call and be considered for an interview. Unfortunately the percentage of applications that get called to interview is low. So if you are considered for a position it is important that you take all the necessary steps it takes to landing that job.
Do Your Homework
Doing your research on the company is probably the first piece of advice a recruiter gave to a candidate since the dawn of time. But what are you looking at? Dig Deep. Do not just research the company but research the people you will be meeting with. We live in a well-connected digital world. It is not hard to get on Google and pull up information on the people you will be meeting with. Do they write a blog? Have they been published? You do not have to go into the interview gushing about them, but it wouldn’t hurt to start off the interview by congratulating them on a recent award or complimenting them on their latest published piece.
Dress The Part
The way you dress on interviews is probably more important than you know. A research done by Nicholas Rule Ph.D. suggests that a person's appearance alone can trump knowledge. Meaning it doesn’t matter what your technical skills are, if you don’t make a good first impression your knowledge isn’t as important. Rule says "As soon as one sees another person, an impression is formed. This happens so quickly -- just a small fraction of a second -- that what we see can sometimes dominate what we know." That doesn’t mean you have to go into the interview in a suit and tie all the time. Ask the recruiter what the dress code is and adhere from that. And if you are cutting out of work early for an interview let the interview team know that. This way when you show up in clothes that you would normally wear to work they aren’t caught off guard. The reason for this is because if you dress out of the norm you can cause some suspicion. For example, if you show up to work every day in jeans and a polo and one day you show up in a suit and tie, you will raise some eyebrows with your current employer.
I recently heard a story where a candidate came in and blew everyone out of the water with his technical skills. The hiring team was so impressed they wanted to make him an offer on the spot. Unfortunately when it came turn for the recruiter to interview this star candidate he walked away with a different impression. Recruiters are not technical. We know enough to decide if you as a candidate meet the needs we are looking for, but we do not get into the finite technical aspects of the job. Our job on an interview is to make sure you match what we are looking for culturally. This star candidate in the previous example just had a bad attitude. He spoke down to the recruiter and was outright rude. The technical folks missed this because they were too focused on his skill set. After meeting with this star candidate the recruiter made a recommendation to not hire him; and that is what the company did. In some cases it does not matter how technical you are, those skills will not be enough to pass the interview. You must treat those around you with respect and show them you are a cultural fit as well.
How you answer questions is very important on the interview. Yes and No’s do not cut it. If the answer is a yes, elaborate, if the answer is a no, same thing. For example if someone asks you if you have ever worked in a specific programming language and you haven’t, do not just answer no. Inform them you haven’t but also let them know of similar languages you have worked in that are very comparable and picking it up would not be an issue for you. If it is even more important than that let them know you would even be willing to take classes to get you up to speed faster. Looking at things in black and white in interviews can hurt your chances. You must be willing to elaborate on your skills and show them what makes you the best candidate possible.
I once had a VP of Human Resources interview for me at a well-known national retailer. The role she interviewed for was a very high level VP of HR position. The interview went well, the candidate came back with positive reviews and so did the client. However a week and a half went by and I had not heard anything. When I finally did the client came to me and told me they were put off because the candidate did not send them a thank you note for their time. Now as a recruiter I should have coached the candidate on this but being at the level she was at in her career I did not think that was necessary. Lesson learned. Regardless this left a bad taste in the mouth of the client. Some could argue maybe the client had other reasons and decided to just go with this one to make it less messy. Either way this was the reason I was told. Your follow up is just as important as the interview itself. You want to let the company know you are excited about the chance to come on board and make a difference. You need to effectively communicate that to them.