June 21, 2021
To get a job, you’ve got to ace the interview. But before that, you’ve got to score an interview. We’ll walk you through the basics of why interviews are important, and how to land one. We’ve also included our best tips for beginners in this post, but stay tuned for more advanced tips in our next blog post.
Q: Why are job interviews important?
Job interviews are so important! It’s the first time you’ll meet the hiring manager face to face, so it’s a first impression, and it will define the way that person thinks of you when they make the decision about who to hire. So it’s very important that you present yourself in a professional way. You really want to try to have control over how you present yourself to make sure they’re thinking of you in the most favorable way possible when they go back and review candidates to make that final hiring decision.
Did you come in 5 minutes late looking like you got caught in a wind storm on the way in? If the other person they interviewed arrived 5 minutes early and had a polished look, that’s going to factor into the hiring decision. Did you give short one or two word answers to every question, or did you elaborate and give examples to backup your answers? Always assume that the other candidates for the job are coming in looking professional and giving great answers. You’ll have to outshine them if you want the job, so you should plan to do your best too.
Job interviews are important because companies want to make sure you’re a match for their company. Companies have a culture. And they want people that match that culture, whether that it’s just a personality type or an experience type; in both of those situations they’re testing a match.
Again one of the things I was told early is: often it’s far less about what you answer than how you answer. And understand in most interview situations there are multiple people going for a limited number of jobs. So, there’s always going to be a down selection. Me personally, I’ve been in jobs where they’ve interviewed 3, 4, or 5 candidates for one position. And you really just have to go through the process of answering those questions, and if you’re the one, you’re the one.
Q: How do you get an interview?
The best vehicle to get an interview is your resume and having a well written resume will help you get that interview. That goes back to the last questions that we’ve had from that perspective. So having a good resume will help with that. As we grow as a society more and more, it’s about having a connection into a particular company, and can that connection get you the job interview? But again I go back to have a well positioned resume that will help you get that job interview.
There are a lot of ways you can land an interview. Sometimes filling out an application or sending over your resume is enough. Working with a recruiter at a staffing company is a great way to score an interview. Networking is also a big one. I applied for a job once, and hadn’t heard a peep after I sent in my application. I happened to know someone in the HR department there. She was not the hiring manager, but I was fairly sure she would have some influence. I called her up and mentioned that I had applied for one of the company’s open positions, but hadn’t gotten a response to my application. I asked if she would be willing to check on the hiring timeline for me. Within an hour I got a call to come in for an interview.
It’s really never a bad idea to call a company and follow up after you send in your application. Give them a reasonable amount of time to reach out to you after you complete the application, and if you haven’t heard back, go ahead and reach out. The trick here is to be polite about it, not annoying or desperate. If you annoy the person who answers the phone, they might not be willing to help you get an interview. But with the right approach it can be a great way to demonstrate your level of interest in the position.
Q: What are some job interview tips for beginners?
Once you’ve scheduled an interview, I would say to practice some questions ahead of time. Select a nice outfit ahead of time, make sure it matches the job you’re applying for. Make sure you arrive on time or a few minutes early. And always, always be polite to the person at the front desk. If you are not polite to the person who greets you, you can bet the hiring manager will hear about it, and they will not be impressed.
Remember it’s totally ok to take a moment to think about your answer if they ask you something that catches you off guard. If you don’t understand a question they’ve asked you, ask for clarification or ask if they can give you an example of what they mean. Ultimately aim to be honest and don’t be afraid to let a little of your personality shine through. And don’t forget to thank them for taking the time to interview you. It’s polite to follow up with an e-mail thanking them for their time afterward.
The easy one: present yourself in a professional manner. And wear nice clothing. I’m not saying go and wear a suit. But I am saying if you’re interviewing for a job, you should be showing up in a polo shirt at the very, very least. If you’re wearing jeans, make ‘em nice jeans. Nobody wants to see you show up in the jeans you just painted your house in. And for the females out there, I’m not an expert, and I’m not going to pretend to be an expert. But don’t wear anything that you know just doesn’t look right, or doesn’t look professional in any way. You want to aim for a professional appearance.
When you’re asked a question, answer the question. Be prepared for the interview. You should understand the company that you’re walking into, and be familiar with what they do. Also have some questions about what they do. There’s only gonna be so much information you get from a website, and it should spur questions that you can ask that person.
We’ll be back soon with more advanced interview tips! We’re always happy to answer questions from our readers, so send in your best questions!
Check out our other blog posts for more useful tips and tricks!