Interview Etiquette 101 – The Lost Art of Candidate Preparation
Merriam Webster defines “The Lost Art” as something usually requiring some skill that not many people do any more. In today’s job market, there is simply no excuse for a candidate who does not prepare for an interview or follow-up afterward. With easy access to companies’ information online, you should never show up unprepared. In fact, when you show up without doing any research it makes you look lazy and lacking in enthusiasm. Even if you are being pursued (recruited), this lack of interest can bite you later in the process if the tables turn. But a little preparation plus a thoughtful follow-up message can help you stand out. There are a lot of ways to approach this process. Ready to learn about the lost art of research and follow-up? Here’s our surefire guide to nailing your interview.
Want to Stand Out?
As a job candidate, you should spend 50% of your time preparing yourself for the interview. This means rehearsing answers to interview questions, reviewing your resume, and practicing your confidence. The other 50% of your preparation time should be spent researching the company.
One way that top talent differentiates itself from the rest of the candidate pool is storytelling. It’s your job to weave together a cohesive narrative that ties your own professional background into the company’s goals. Yes, hiring managers and recruiters want to know that you actually want the job. But they also want to know that you understand the role they need you to play in growing the company.
What to Research Before Your Interview
There is a wealth of publicly available information online for candidates who are willing to put in the effort. Your first step should be a basic review of the company’s website. How are they portraying themselves to the world? What words do they use to describe their mission? During this stage, many candidates note down some key phrases to use in their interviews. Using the right jargon can subconsciously signal to the hiring manager that you’d be a great fit. For instance, you should use the company’s phrase “information technology innovator” rather than “software company.”
Now dig a bit deeper. Research the LinkedIn profiles of key leadership, or even the person who will be interviewing you. Look for any recent news articles about the company. Has anyone from their team given an interview? Are they featured on Forbes or the Harvard Business Review? If it’s a start-up company, have you found local news about their fundraising efforts or hey talent additions? Keep an eye out for any recent successes as well as indications of trouble.
If the internet isn’t turning up any results, focus your research on the industry instead. If you’re applying for a tech job, go to TechCrunch and Wired to peruse the latest headlines and technology trends. If it’s healthcare, read the Kaiser Morning Brief and The Wall Street Journal. Be prepared to discuss new developments in the industry and how they could affect the company.
You should also prepare some questions of your own. After the hiring manager is finished, it’s your turn. Ask about company culture, management style, and which are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role. Always interview the company as much as they interview you! Trust us, companies love this and you will be higher on their lists.
Follow Up With Questions, Observations, and Thank You Notes!
Do not forget to acknowledge the time and effort of your interviewer! Any interaction you have with a hiring manager or recruiter should be immediately followed up with an expression of gratitude. Send a quick email thanking them and expressing your continued interest in the company. It might seem unimportant, but this small step can be a differentiator when it comes down to you and another equally qualified candidate.
A seller’s market for talent doesn’t mean that as a candidate you can afford to be lazy in your research and follow-through. Not only will your research help make you feel more prepared for your interview, but it will also have a powerful effect on the hiring manager. If you prefer lists, our very basic guide is below:
- Research the company as you are interviewing them.
- Prepare a specific set of questions.
- Take notes. Phone interview, virtual, or in person… get engaged, act like you want it.
- Ask for contact information.
- Send follow up messages to express interest and ask clarifying questions.
- Always express your gratification for someone the interviewer’s time.
- Seek out clarity on the timing and decision making process for the company.
- Be transparent. Don’t surprise prospective employers with sudden competitive job offers or conflicting interviews. Simply keep everyone “in the loop.”
Ready to level up your job search? Follow the basic lost art of Interviewing Etiquette 101 and you’ll stand out from the crowd in all the right ways.
About Bell Falls Search
Bell Falls Search is an Executive Search firm that partners with Small Businesses and Emerging Growth Companies to build self sustainable Talent Attraction solutions.
Our team has accomplished this across a wide range of industries, functional expertise and experience levels…and we have the case studies to prove it!
Contact Ron Laneve to learn how Bell Falls Search can help with your Talent growth goals.