For the last 6 months I have been interviewing candidates for an open managerial position on my team and it has been extremely challenging to fill this role. Additionally, over the course of my career, I have interviewed many candidates for open roles on various teams I’ve managed. I have noticed several patterns arising lately that are extremely detrimental to candidates. Hence, I wanted to share the following simple reminders and mindset techniques that interviewees should be using to put themselves miles ahead of the competitors and land that job!
#1 – DRESS THE PART
This may seem obvious but I cannot tell you how many candidates come to interview for a managerial role in business casual outfits. I implore you – wear the suit, wear the professional dress, wear the right shoes. I used to have a manager that would say to me “Dress for the role you WANT, not the role you have.” Fantastic advice. Be sure you wow them (and I mean anyone you come in contact with at the company) with your first impression. That is the one the interviewer is going to remember. You can never take that first impression back – dress to impress.
#2 – ARRIVE PREPARED
Bring copies of your resume. I know we live in a world of virtual technology today, but my company uses a Human Resources department that is based in another county and when they set up interviews, they imbed the person’s resume in the calendar invite. If the candidate assumes that I have a copy of their resume on my computer, and assumes I am bringing my laptop to the interview – those are two gigantic assumptions. In turn, I have to waste precious time going into my calendar, finding the invite, opening it up and downloading the resume. This is PRECIOUS TIME that the candidate could be wowing me with their skill set. I have one hour allotted for each interview – do you really want to waste 10 minutes of it while I hunt around for a copy of your resume? Additionally, if you are assuming I’ve printed out a copy of your resume you are sadly mistaken. Not only am I doing my job, I’m doing the job of the open role I have to fill, so I really don’t have time to print out your resume. I’m seeking a candidate who will be two steps ahead of me, not one step behind. I recommend you bring several copies and assume all mishaps will happen and be prepared!
#3 – BE ENTHUSIASTIC
So many candidates come in to meet with me and act like they are doing me a favor. Confidence is important but arrogance is a turn off. I am looking for someone who is excited to work on my team and someone who is passionate about the company. That being said, a little nervous energy is great. It shows me that the interview is important to you.
#4 – BRING SUCCESS STORIES
Prepare you best success stories, big wins, and how you overcame business challenges for your past companies. Even include great success stories from when you were getting your bachelor’s degree or MBA; or perhaps you are on your condo board or another position with an organization, or head up a volunteer group, etc. I want to see how you define success and how you will bring that kind of success to my team. Don’t just have one or two or three – have ten, so that you can pull out the right story for the question the interviewer is asking. I have always done this throughout my career and it is the one thing that leap frogs me ahead of my competition. I also would recommend bringing handouts – whether it’s an excel document or something innovative – so the interviewer can see, feel and touch it. This goes the extra mile – it shows you put the time and energy into your own career growth.
#5 – BE SOLUTION ORIENTED
Companies today move at the speed of light. Workloads are heavier than employees can bear. Directors and VP’s need teams that can find solutions to problems FAST. Illustrate how you are solution focused and how YOU find solutions to problems. Remember that the interviewer has a need to fill – he or she is looking for someone as quickly as possible to fill that need. The more you can show you are the one finding solutions to their problems, the quicker you will move into the role.
#6 – ASK QUESTIONS
Be sure to come prepared with a list of questions. You are interviewing the company and your new potential boss as much as they are interviewing you. What do you want to know about the company, the department, the team? However, I highly recommend NOT asking questions regarding salary, vacation time, benefits, etc. – get the offer first before you ask those questions. Some good questions could be: “What are your biggest challenges that you are seeking a candidate to solve?” “What are the three favorite things that you love about working for xxx company?” “What is the growth potential from this role?” There are many insightful questions you may want to know and these questions show your intelligence level.
#7 – BE PROFESSIONAL AT ALL TIMES
I always have a manager on my team interview candidates after I interview them. She is on the same managerial level as the open role and can give the candidates more insight into the day to day aspects of the role. Her interview is just as important as mine. I am shocked at the number of interviewees who feel so relieved after I leave that they use curse words in front her, because she is not a “higher up. They are throwing F-bombs around like candy. Remember, she is a team member that you may potentially be working with. Keep it professional at all times, no matter how “cool” the interviewer may be.
#8 – SEND A THANK YOU NOTE
Sending an email is fine, but send it. The interviewer is waiting for it. If you don’t send one it’s a strike against you. Also respect the personal time of the interviewer – don’t send text messages to the interviewer (especially nights and weekends)!!!! I may give you my card and say if you have questions reach out to me, (and I mean it!) but I’m not your buddy, or your girlfriend.
(See #7 – Keep it professional, please!)
#9 – WORK WITH YOUR MINDSET
This is probably the most important technique that no other candidates will be practicing, and this one will put you far, far ahead of your competition. Before, during and after the interview observe your mind. What is the mind chatter saying? Perhaps things like: “Who do you think YOU are for wanting more?” “All the other candidates are going to be smarter than me.” What fears are arising: “Will I be out of a job forever?” “Will I be stuck in this horrible job I have forever?” Start to write down and journal the thoughts that are arising. Observe how they are hijacking your moment to shine. Many candidates become incredibly impatient after the interview, emailing HR and the interviewer daily to see if there are any updates. The candidate may have really rocked the interview, but things come up at companies and hiring gets delayed. Have patience. Work with your mind to cultivate a mindset of patience, gratitude and non-judgement. If you put your focus on those three elements, you will not be focused on waiting for the phone to ring or to get that email. Fill your life with things you love, continue to seek out other opportunities – and meditate. Meditation will clear your mind of the chatter, worry, impatience. Take 5-10 minutes a day to practice this. (You can find free mediations on-line quite easily.)
Remember the traits you show the interviewer (both good and bad) will be amplified if you get the role. So, if the interviewer sees lots of wonderful traits, they will I want more of that. If the interviewer sees several not so great qualities, he or she will know that there will be more of those. This is your moment to shine or sabotage yourself from the second you walk in the door until you get an answer. You can either be the hero the interviewer is seeking, or you can sabotage your opportunity. Sometimes interviewers really like the candidate but have another role they may be more suited for – you are always in the running until you hear otherwise. Remember you are the PRIZE. Companies want and need you. Also remember they are waiting for a true Leader to walk in the door and they want you to win!
Now go land that job!