There’s a little known fact about the job interview that many job candidates tend to overlook: the interviewer wants to hire you. In most cases, anyway.
Yes, there are times when the interview is all a sham, when the employer has already chosen someone and they are just going through the motions to satisfy HR or something. But, the majority of the time, they want to hire you. They don’t want to be stuck on a decision between two or more candidates. They want you to be so amazing that the choice is a no-brainer, that all doubts are erased, that they can go to their superior and say “This is the person for the job. I’m sure of it” – and be right.
They want you to convince them, and make their job easy.
If you’ve made it to the interview, your resume has done some of this work. The employer is impressed enough with your experience and skill set that they think you could be a good choice. You’ve pulled ahead of all the candidates who didn’t get invited for an interview. All you have to do now is beat the rest to the finish line. I asked some hiring managers how you can do that.
I asked: “What is the one thing someone could say or do in an interview with you that would set them above the competition?”
By far the most popular response was some variation on “Show that you have done your research on the company.”
Hiring managers also suggest that you demonstrate how you will fit into the company and/or that you offer a solution to a problem where possible. Here are a few of the responses:
“The single largest impact that someone can have is to have done research on the company they are interviewing with. Sounds like common sense. but I see applicants asking us to tell them what we do when we’re finally sitting face to face with them. We’ve never hired a single person who has shown up to an interview without doing any basic amount of research on us first.” Kenny Ochs, Marketing / Operations Director, Market Experts Realty
“Research the company they are applying to and offer actionable tips on how they can hit the ground running in the job for which they’re applying. If a candidate can speak to the company culture, after doing their own research and then offer suggestions on how they would add value during the interview, that always stands out to me.” Shilonda Downing, Owner, Virtual Work Team, LLC
“Candidates that have made the cut have all done their research and offered a potential solution to a hypothetical client challenge, or gone the extra mile of presenting a concept or strategy that will help the business specifically.” Shemiah R. Williams, President, Modern Graffiti Marketing Group
“When I am done with my questions, I always ask the applicant what his or her questions are. Nearly all applicants will ask a couple of general questions that have to do with what they want, such as how often do we give reviews for raises, or when they will be eligible for health insurance. Very rarely, someone will ask me specific questions that have to do with our agency’s history or future or products that we offer. These are applicants who have clearly researched who we are and where we are going, and that impresses me every time because it is so rare.” Danielle Kunkle, Vice President, Boomer Benefits
The takeaway? DO YOUR RESEARCH. We’re always talking about that on Workopolis, but it looks like a lot of people – maybe even most – aren’t bothering.
The comments weren’t all about research. Some managers are impressed by different things. Other recommendations included having a sense of humour, being creative, and showing up prepared with a visual presentation, like a Power Point, on what you can do for the organization.
Of course, you must still do your research on top of being funny and creative.
Another thing that has come up in the past is “asking” for the job, which doesn’t mean saying “Can I please have the job?” but showing your enthusiasm for the position.
Digital marketing and technology recruiter Sue Hardek has an example of a candidate who touched these most important points in an interview. Hardek says:
“I was hiring a recent college graduate for an entry level position. During the course of the interview, it had become clear to me that this candidate had done her homework, which she demonstrated by asking thoughtful questions about the agency and the direction in was headed. At the end of the interview, she looked me squarely in the eye, told me that she really wanted the job and would give it 110% of her effort and be a hard worker. Then she asked me if there was anything that would preclude me from offering her that job. She left our office that day with an offer in hand and turned out to be an exemplary employee.”
Remember that the hiring manager wants to find someone to fill the position as badly as you want to fill it.
All you have to do it convince them that you’re the one to do that.