By Dr. Michael Williams
Dean, School of Business and Management
As a college graduate, you are ready to utilize your degree and start (or continue) on the career path of your dreams. So, after sending your resume out to countless prospective employers, you have risen above the competition with however many other candidates, and landed the interview. Congratulations! But of course, the hard work and initiative doesn’t end there. As an educator and dean, I have noticed several productive and unproductive strategies during interviews that leave more questions than answers. And in today’s tough job market, anything you can do to set yourself apart as the right person for the position should come across in your interview.
At the interview stage, there are most likely five or 10 highly qualified candidates, which must then be whittled down to two or three in a second interview, if applicable. During this time, the interviewer is focusing on key candidate details that are most likely not even on your resume. As an expert in human resource management, I’ve compiled five tips that hiring managers are really looking for in an interview, while demonstrating that you are their dream candidate.
- Do Your Research. Search online for any articles or awards about the company, review their website, and look them up on any social media platforms to understand who they are and what they do. When you refer to your findings during the interview, this expresses your familiarity with the company and shows the employer how interested and invested you will be in the position, without actually saying it. It will also demonstrate that you can gather information effectively and come prepared every day.
- Ask Questions. Always have a list of three or four ready when asked at the end of the interview. It reflects your interest in learning everything you could possibly want to know about the position. Questions should be centered on the company. If hired, you will be spending 40+ hours a week at the organization, so ask about day-to-day responsibilities, the interviewer’s most rewarding project, etc.
- Express That You Actually Want the Position. This could be the one little thing that sets you apart from the other candidates. If you are eager for the role, say it. Just be ready to explain why; use this opportunity to give your best sales pitch for a compelling reason.
- Send the Right Message. Implement verbal and nonverbal cues. Come up with a list of great buzzwords that you feel really describe you, like creative, team-player, pro-active, innovative, etc. This will help you answer the “tell us about yourself” question with confidence. Most importantly, interviewers are more interested in your composure and thinking process as you answer every question, so coming prepared will help you maintain your cool.
- Follow Up After the Interview. Reach out to the hiring manager after your interview; don’t let them think that you disappeared or that you devalue any connection you made. Whether you send a thank you note in writing or email, ensure that what you write adds value. Include what you learned in the interview, your passion for the position and confirm why you would be great for the role.
With the right research and preparation, showing your initiative during an interview can only help you and the hiring manager make a well-informed decision. Whatever the outcome of the interview, stay positive and use the experience as a learning opportunity to cultivate better strategies or to improve yourself. Good luck!