While a good resume and cover letter can open the door to a job opportunity, a strong interview is often the most significant step in the hiring process. Job seekers that truly desire to land a job should move beyond interview basics, such as dressing professionally and arriving early for an interview, to implementing techniques that will set them apart from other applicants.
Here are 5 ways you can make a lasting positive impression at a job interview:
- Refer to your resume and cover letter– Most employers receive numerous resumes and cover letters for job openings. While they may have selected you for an interview, this doesn’t mean they will remember everything about you. Use the interview as a time to refer to information on your resume, such as work history or major accomplishments, to help refresh interviewers’ memories. Then elaborate on a few of your more significant roles and achievements, even explaining how these experiences relate to the job for which you’re interviewing.
- Do your research and apply it– While it’s important to conduct research about an employer to understand their history, successes and challenges, doing the research and talking about the information you learned is simply a first step in ensuring interview success. It’s even more important for you to demonstrate that you can apply that research. For example, if you’ve found that the employer is experiencing a consistent problem, come up with ideas for how you’d plan to solve it. Perhaps they’ve released a new service or product. Share how you’d market it or improve existing services. Ultimately the goal is to show that you’ve already considered how you can make a difference as an employee.
- Prepare questions and answers– The interview is the time for both you and an employer to determine if you are a good match for one another. As the job seeker, this means you should be prepared with both questions and answers to demonstrate your interest in the position and how much you fit the role. Ask very specific, meaningful questions relating to things discussed in the interview. You can also ask about articles you’ve read about the employer or industry insights, as this is another way to demonstrate that you’ve done your research.
In addition to developing questions to ask the employer, prepare answers to common interview questions. This will help develop your confidence and eliminate silence or long pauses during the interview. While interviewers may not ask the exact questions you prepare answers for, it’s likely you can apply the answers you’ve prepared to similar questions they ask.
- Decide if and how you’ll disclose a disability – If you have a disability, discussing it during the hiring process or after being employed is a personal choice and is not a required. However, it can be beneficial if sharing details about your disability would help a potential employer make reasonable accommodations to improve the hiring process or help you better perform the job functions. Remember that you can disclose a disability at any time, even during an interview. If sharing during an interview, it’s important to also remain focused on demonstrating how you are qualified to perform the essential job requirements.
- Don’t forget to say thank you – Offering appreciation at the end of an interview isn’t enough to help you make a lasting impression with an employer. Sending a “thank you” shortly after is a great way to show your continued interest in a position and even to address or follow-up on matters from the interview. For example, if you’ve thought more about a question that you didn’t have a strong answer for during the interview, share your answer in the thank you note. Or, simply reiterate why you feel you are the ideal fit for the position. Although written notes are not very common, sending both an email immediately following the interview and a written note in the mail soon after will certainly set you apart from other applicants.
Making a lasting positive impression at a job interview takes preparation and practice but implementing these tips can definitely help you land the job you desire.