That Shania Twain song couldn’t escape me after I had an interview with a candidate last week that lasted eight minutes. One of my favorites, Shania Twain reminds us that when your standards are high it is hard for others to impress you. My personal expectations combined with our strict standards at Ideba often leave me disappointed and underwhelmed. As our company grows and we continue to look for new talent, I am sharing my gathered tips, which are useful for anyone interviewing anywhere in this challenging job market.

1) Your interview starts before you even know it. I once heard a hiring manager tell me he would stare out the window and watch candidates arrive in the parking lot. It says a lot if they are frantically trying to fix their clothes and gather their things or are calm and prepared prior to the entrance. If the receptionist didn’t like someone they wouldn’t even make it to his office.

2) Show up early and let whoever greets you know that you are comfortable waiting for the scheduled appointment time. Showing up late suggests your time is more important than the person you are meeting. If you really feel that way, enjoy the time on your hands when you don’t get the job.

3) Do your homework before the interview. Learn about the company and what they do. Research your interviewer on LinkedIn. Learn key terminology for the market or industry so you can highlight your knowledge during the interview. I interviewed at the governor’s office once for a speech writer position and impressed the governor by knowing her dog’s name from a random news article I found online, as well as her next five speaking engagements.

4) Don’t lie during an interview.  I have training in lie detection and I am sure most others can see through a bold-faced lie.  I once interviewed someone who stated she had research experience on her resume.  Upon further investigation she meant she looked things up online. It ruined her credibility for the rest of the interview

5) Speak to your experience.  Make sure your resume does a good job of detailing your work experience and skills. But more importantly make sure that if no one ever looks at your resume they know your skills and experience because you have made sure to highlight them throughout the interview. I saw a resume last week that had job titles and years on it without the company names or details on what the role actually involved. It came off as very unprofessional.

6) Ask smart questions about the role and company.  This shows your interest in the company and that you have thought through the discussion during the interview to identify what you still need to know.

7) Get contact information during the interview and send a follow up thank you note to the interviewer after the interview. Make sure to highlight why you think you would be a good fit for the company rather than just a blanket thank you.  I am continually surprised at how few follow ups, even electronically, I get from candidates.

-By Stephanie Vanterpool, Senior Director

Comments welcome! What have you done to win the job? What have you witnessed that made you not hire someone?

4 replies
  1. Michael Cunningham
    Michael Cunningham says:

    I enjoyed this blog entry. It provides a landscape for some useful information regarding effective interviewing. More importantly it shines a light on the fact that whether you are the interviewer or the candidate it is a personal exchange and there is no real prescription for success. While I completely agree with most of the tips, a couple of them are judgment calls, of which you would have no way of knowing until you dont get the job offer.

    • Ideba
      Ideba says:

      Michael, I definitely agree there is a skill in reading people especially when it comes to your interviewer. When you walk out you should have some feeling of how it went. There are things that people don’t hire for that are extremely personal. I once interviewed an analyst for a research position. She was smart and skilled but she shared some really confidential project work from her current job that I thought was inappropriate. The first project she would have worked on if hired was for a very sensitive client and I thought hiring her would be too risky. There are little things you do that can cost you the job that aren’t covered in these tips. But I do see these tips as a start.

  2. Lee Sumner
    Lee Sumner says:

    These are such important tips to get out to the young folks who are straight out of college. It’s unfortunate that very often entry-level job seekers continue on from interview to interview without learning that there are certainly ways to differentiate yourself.

    I also stand strong to the idea of the, “by doing” trick. It is basically a way of bringing credibility to your past work and your character type. You say… “I improved efficiency at my past job BY DOING my part to organize the office and helpout my co-workers.” instead of simply saying, “I improved efficiency at my past job.”

    • Ideba
      Ideba says:

      I agree. I love people who say all the time that they are strategic. What are you strategic at? What strategy did you execute on? A lot of time people can’t articulate what exactly they do or what their skills are.

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