Interviewing can be incredibly stressful, but it does not need to be. If you are thinking of leaving your job or have already left, chances are you are preparing to interview.
As an agency that helps connect the best candidates to the companies and jobs perfect for them, Cygnet has sat in many interviews. We have also helped countless candidates prepare for and nail their interviews for their dream jobs. Here are some things we’ve noticed that help a candidate stand out during the interview process.
1. Do Your Research
You have probably heard this before. Anytime you go in for an interview, you should know some essential things about the company.
What do they value in employees?
You can parse out what a company values in its employees in many ways. Read the job description carefully. Note words that speak to the core values of employees at this company. A company that expects collaboration will look for employees with high interpersonal skills who can work well with diverse individuals on projects. Words like “collaborates with others,” “communicate effectively,” “navigates conflict well,” and so on. Words that seem to emphasize a team environment could indicate that this company values people who will work well alongside others. A company that needs employees capable of working with speed and are going to value efficiency, problem-solving, and individual motivation. Indicating words might look like: “manage several projects,” “meet deadlines,” and “self-motivated.” If you read carefully, you will be able to distinguish what a company values by the keywords that are used.
Who is leading the company?
Knowledge about the individuals at the head of a company is essential because these people set the pace for the whole company. You can read about them on a company’s about page and look them up on LinkedIn. The more you know about their leadership styles and what they are looking for in employees, the more you will know if your strengths align with the leadership styles of the company.
What is the industry like?
This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but you must enter a job interview knowing about the industry you will be working in. Knowledge indicates experience and will show that you are prepared to join the company and the job. Be sure to know the important aspects of the industry. If you are applying for a career in medical sales, a quick Google search about medical sales will get you plenty of information on what the job entails. Then you can do more research on what the company sells the most, and you can think of ways to sell and get new clients. This cursory knowledge shows that you are ready and eager to work in this job and that the company will not have to train you from scratch.
2. Know yourself
When applying for a job, you are not just selling your skills. You are selling yourself. What do you bring that makes you unique?
The individuals conducting the interview will want to know your strengths and weaknesses as an employee, but they also want to know about your soft skills, such as character, your sense of humor, and your personality. Companies are interviewing you to see if you are a good fit for the culture, both in your work ethic and ability to work alongside the other employees.
Here are a few tips to help you sell yourself during an interview:
Tell A Story
Humans are narrative-driven beings. Great businesses know this and use the power of story to help sell their product or services. Instagram influencers know this and use stories for marketing their brand. You can use stories to sell yourself to a company you want to work for. Think about your life and how you have arrived at this point. Tell this story. Maybe you had to overcome some considerable obstacles to realize you needed to leave your job, or about how a failure led to you learning you had different strengths than you initially thought. A great story can help an interviewer know who you are, your skills, and your strengths. But it will also captivate your audience more than just a list of what you are good at.
Don’t Hide Who You Are
Often in a job interview, it can feel like you need to mold yourself to be the model employee this company is looking for. You may feel pressure to be different than you are to “fit in” at this company. Try not to do this. You are your greatest asset, and you are a gift to a company. Trying to be someone you are not will only backfire on you if you get the job. Being different from your authentic self is draining, and you are more likely to burn out. Differences can feel frightening, but differences are how individuals and companies grow. Trust that you have the skills this company needs and that your authentic self will be an excellent fit for this company. Or, you can save yourself a lot of time and recognize an ill-fit before accepting a position.
During a job interview, it can feel like you are the one in the hot seat, and in a sense, this is true. The company needs to know if you are a good fit for them.
But you also need to know if this company is a good fit for you. Be curious about the people interviewing you, the position you are applying for, and the company itself. There is room for you to ask good questions during your interview. Not only will this show you are interested in the company and eager to learn, but it will also help you identify any potential red flags or decide whether this company aligns with what you are looking for. While you are doing your research on the company, write down some questions that come up. Some examples of great questions are:
How do people give feedback on this team?
How would employees describe their relationships with their coworkers?
How would you define success on this team and at this company?
What is the biggest project the person hired for this position will work on first? What are your expectations for this?
What did your career path that brought you to this company/position look like?
What do you love about this company?
Asking great questions is an excellent way to gain helpful insights into a potential employer.
Close the Interview
One vital mistake people make during interviews is forgetting to “close,” the interview. But what does this mean? Essentially, you should take some time at the end of the interview to summarize the interview. This is a moment for you to remind the interviewer why you are the best fit for the job. Interviewers meet a lot of candidates, and each one is putting their best foot forward. Recapping your best qualities and how they match what the interviewer is looking for at the end of the interview will help you stand out in the interviewers' minds This is important for any interview but especially important for sales positions. You need to know how to close a conversation and make yourself stand out from everyone else..
And last, but definitely not least, say that you want this job! Show that you are excited about the position, the company, and the people. Take just a moment to say something like, “Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview for this position, it seems like an incredible job and I would love to work here!” This will show the interviewer that you’re not just going through the motions, and sometimes that can make all the difference.
Send a “thank you” email or card after your interview
This will help you stand out from the other candidates. Express your thanks for the interviewer’s time, but also see this as a chance to reiterate why you think you would be a good fit for the position and company. Sometimes things don’t come out the way you want them to during an interview or you might forget to mention something that highlights your experience. Take this opportunity to make your case! And, a "thank you" communique shows that you are the kind of person who will make that extra step, which many companies value highly in employees.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
This may sound counterintuitive, but the only way to truly get better at interviewing is to actually interview. You can read all the blogs you want, but until you get real experience interviewing all your knowledge will be theoretical.
If you haven’t been in many interviews before there are some things you can do:
Ask a friend to give you a “mock” interview
This is a great way to practice what you want to say. It is impossible to predict exactly how your interview will go, but this can at least give you some practice answering questions on the fly.
Practice in a Mirror or Video
Your non-verbal mannerisms are just as important as your verbal answers. If you are overly twitchy or too deadpan, this could be a red flag for potential employers. You could say all the right things, but your body language could express the opposite of what you intended to say. Practicing some answers in a mirror will give you a good idea of how your body responds to certain things. Do you cross your arms too much? Do you scowl when you are thinking? Do you fidget with your hands unconsciously? Non-verbal queues are essential elements in human communication. Becoming aware of how you come across non-verbally is vital to nailing an interview.
Get Outside Help
Sometimes it may feel impossible to land a job interview as you are combing through all the different job postings. You may get discouraged sending your resume to a million different companies and never hearing back. But trust us, it isn’t you. You may not know how to highlight your strengths and your experience to stand out for a company. This is where a recruiting firm can be a big help. It is a recruiting agency's job to learn about you - your skills, your values, and your personality - to help find a company and role that fits you perfectly. You will be able to walk into an interview knowing that you are a great fit, and confidence is key in the interviewing process.
Let Cygnet Help
As a healthcare recruitment agency, Cygnet has been helping excellent candidates find the perfect jobs for years. We pride ourselves in our ability to match candidates with positions that align with their values and skill sets. Contact us today and we can help you nail your next interview at a company that is perfect for you!