5 Simple But Brilliant Job Interview Strategies

In a recent blog post I outlined some of the biggest job seeker mistakes to avoid, based on my own experience hiring a paid intern. Today, I’ll share some simple but impactful tactics to help you land the job you want.

1. Spell the recruiter or hiring manager’s name right. Of the emails I received responding to the position I posted, about half spelled my name wrong. That’s an instant sign that a candidate lacks attention to detail.

2. Know as much as you can about the employer. The job I posted was for an intern to help edit the second edition of my book, Getting from College to Career. Although I didn’t require anyone to read the book before interviewing with me, the two people who had taken the time to read even one chapter impressed me the most. The one who read my entire book got the job. Given the amount of information you can find on the web, it’s inexcusable not to thoroughly research the company — scour its website, use its products, read its press releases — that you want to work for.

3. Be positive. Particularly in challenging economic times, employers want to hire people who will be a positive, helpful presence. No one likes a complainer. This includes criticizing a previous employer. A job interview is your chance to shine and to demonstrate your enthusiasm for a position; even if you’re a little bitter from a previous experience or a long job hunt, don’t let those emotions creep out in front of an interviewer.

4. Send a thank you email within 24 hours of interviewing. If I don’t receive an email within a day of the interview, I assume the person is not really interested in the position. The thank you email doesn’t have to be long; it just has to be sent. Although handwritten notes are lovely (and can be sent in addition to an email), in this day and age you have to be fast.

5. Respond positively to rejection. I was extremely impressed by a few applicants to my internship who wrote me very nice notes in response to my email saying that I had chosen a different candidate. Their graciousness has led me to keep their resumes on file in case I have a position in the future that might be a good fit.

What other simple strategies do you recommend for job seekers? Remember that seemingly small actions can make a very big difference!

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6 Responses

  1. When I was working in recruitment, I remember candidates would sometimes misspell my family name. It may look like a simple detail, but it can also be a sign the candidate isn’t taking the recruitment process too seriously.

    On my way to read the rest of the article…

  2. I read these and my first reaction was “duh”… and then I thought about all the candidates I’ve interviewed recently. I’m always shocked at 2 things you referenced – they know little to nothing about the company with which they’re interviewing and have no relevant questions, only boilerplate suggestions they’ve read from a generic job hunting website. Lastly, many appear bored and disengaged – a job interview isn’t a trip to the dentist – it’s your possible future. The more respect you show the company and the interview process, the more likely you are to obtain an offer.

    1. @Jackie – Thank you for commenting. I felt the same way – I thought many of these were common sense, but over the years I’ve learned that common sense isn’t that common! Very good point about attitude as well.

  3. Great post. Very simple things that all candidates should do.

    I might add one more: Ask great questions. If you’ve done #2, that is great. You should then have a couple questions that you should ask when you get the chance. Anytime I interview a candidate and I say “do you have any questions?” the absolute wrong answer is “no”.

    If you’ve researched my company you should bring me challenging questions to show you care about our business model, how we make money, how you can help us, etc. Stick with the “why” questions that show you’re interested in why we do what we do…the questions like “how’d you do that?” equals light thinking that doesn’t get to who we are.

    Last, relate the questions I ask you to how you can help me.

    Great article!
    Andy O’Dower

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