2013 was a big year for our company as I had to go through a process of filling not one, but two roles. We were replacing the departure of a good friend whom God was calling into a new season as well as filling the new position we had created to run our TripleWide Media brand so we could be more intentional with our relationships.
Throughout the process I became quite frustrated at the number of people who were way more interested in getting a J-O-B (something a college graduate feels entitled to) and not enough people willing to invest in a company they felt they could make a difference in.
For those who are looking for a new career path or those who just want insight from someone who has hired a team before, here are seven ways to make a great impression with a future employer during the interview process and better your chances of getting that dream role in a great company!
1. Do your research.
This was something I was told in college but never understood the meaning of it until I had to fill my first position. Let me tell you this… research is more than knowing the title of the job you’re applying for or the “industry” that the company is in. Find out what some of their recent projects were, what their latest few blog posts are, how successful their social media is or a glimpse into the typical customer they attract. This is important for two reasons. First, it’s a good indication of what the company’s culture is like and second, it’s a great way to stand out among the crowd of interviewees who don’t take the hour to look some of this stuff up. Research isn’t done in 15 min, it takes hours… do your research and I guarantee it will pay off.
2. Ask great questions.
This goes hand in hand with the doing research. When I was interviewing people, I always ended with “Do you have any questions for me?” Most often the other person had at least one. Typically something to do with compensation. Here’s a few tips:
- Don’t let your first question be about compensation, vacation time, sick policy, office hours or anything that may seem like you only care about what you get out of this.
- Don’t just ask about the role. Try to understand more about the company, the leadership style of the president or the person you will report to.
- Great questions show your insight into their industry and prove that you’re a forward thinker who will add to the discussion when it’s most needed.
- Seek to understand the company or team’s greatest struggles or challenges. This will help you identify the key obstacles you need to overcome to become a linchpin in the organization.
3. Send a HAND written card.
I used to think this didn’t matter, but it does. In the over 30 people I interviewed for the two positions at Orange Thread only 2 sent me a hand written card. Part of the process of getting a great role at a great company is standing out. If you know you can do something that will put you in the top 10% of the applicants, regardless what that positive thing is, why wouldn’t you do that? Here’s what happened with those two people. One of the applicants who wrote me a letter was already a top candidate after the first meeting and this just solidified everything I thought about them. The second one was someone who had a mediocre interview and I wasn’t planning on having a second interview but their letter redeemed their semi-unimpressive interview and gave them a second chance. Don’t just send an email, send an email and a hand written card.
4. Be persistent in following up, especially if it’s a small company.
I can tell you this, Though filling the position was a top priority for me, I was doing three people’s jobs on top of the crazy interview process. This means if you let me forget about you, I most likely did. Those who were persistent weren’t annoying, they showed initiative and proved that they would perservere to get something they wanted. This showed me the candidate would do whatever it takes to accomplish a goal or achieve an objective when the going got rough. This always impressed me. Follow up!
5. Have a contagious personality, but not a fake one.
I know people have told me that an interview is similar to a first date, and though I see where they are coming from I think an interview is worse than a first date. You can only show your best side. You’re doing whatever you can to make an impression. The more contagious you are, the better salesman (or woman) you will be on a team. In an age where everyone is a marketer and every role on the team needs to sell the business in someway or another, there’s no question that being contagious helps! One of the guy’s on my team uses the phrase “they’re a balogna sandwich” when he meets someone who lacks contagiousness in their personality.
6. Find out if your personal goals align with the vision of the company.
This is a tricky one, because it can easily be faked. It’s less about trying to be a perfect fit and instead, making sure that your goals actually do align with the vision of where the company is going. Employment is a two way partnership: You need to benefit from working with a company that will help you achieve the goals you have for your life, and in order to be successful, you need to make sure you’re at a company in which you can thrive! This can be done by research, asking intentional questions, knowing your own goals and being able to identify key areas of the role and make sure there is alignment.
This is also critical because too often friends of mine get the job and then they learn they work for a tyrant or a bad leader. This is because their vision and your goals didn’t align. Love the team and boss you work for. Pursue a company that allows you to thrive and don’t sacrifice your core values just to get a piece of paper in the mail every other week.
7. Know the competition & marketplace.
There was one interview I did last year where one of the candidates showed me that they knew the business we were in. It went further than research, they identified that they had intrinsic intuition in the marketplace that we operate in and immediately made an incredible impression. There’s nothing like investing into the key decisions of the company BEFORE you even work for the company. If you are able to know the competition, you already put yourself in front of everyone else applying. This isn’t expected to be known, and allows you to be an extraordinary candidate.
No matter what you do, be you. You may get the job, but you’ll be miserable, you’ll leave early and you’ll constantly find yourself chasing the perfect J-O-B and you’ll miss the chance to begin building a great career, making a difference along the way.
What are some of the ways you stood out in an interview process?