Landing a job at a company ranked as a best place to work is highly competitive. These companies are inundated with resumes on a daily basis so if you are one of the lucky few to get in the door, you don’t want to blow the interview process. While you’re skills matter, how you’ll fit in with their culture is equally important.
“One of the great benefits of a top company is that the perks are attractive and generous,” say Kevin Ricklefs, senior vice president, talent management at CHG Healthcare. “But if you’re focused on how this job will benefit you instead of how you will benefit the company, you’ll likely sabotage your chances of ever discovering what free daily meals or free healthcare or loads of stock options feel or look like.”
From doing your homework ahead of the interview to letting your personality shine through, here’s a look at six ways to nail the hiring process at a top-ranked company.
1. Pay attention to initial communication. Most people think the interview process starts when they are sitting in front of the hiring manager, but how you project yourself leading up to the interview can impact whether or not you get hired. According to Ricklefs a lot of strong candidates neglect to return emails or send information in a timely manner which can hurt their chances. “Your attention to detail in the interview process is a good indication of your attention to detail in your future job,” says Ricklefs. “Make a positive first impression long before your first official interview.”
2. Prepare your elevator pitch. Although companies will throw out the occasional off-the-wall question during the interview, nine out of 10 times you are going to get a common interview question, which is why having a well-honed elevator pitch in your back pocket is essential, says Kathleen Downs, a recruiting manager at Robert Half International. “It should never be perceived as an invitation to start talking about personal things,” says Downs. “Some people give away too much information that has no relevance to how he or she will perform the job.”
3. Research the company and interviewer. No matter what position you are interviewing for, you have to have some knowledge of what the company does and be able to communicate that during the interview. The Internet has made researching a company painless so there’s no excuse. “Spend a few hours before any interview digging into the products and people who make a company successful,” says Ricklefs. “Make sure you don’t sound like you’re bluffing or worse, making up information on the spot.” If you want to impress the person interviewing you, learn some information about his or her professional and personal background and weave that into the interview. Ricklefs says to check Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest for insight into the interviewer’s interests. “You may discover you both are passionate scrap-bookers or die-hard fans of last year’s Super Bowl winners. Then use that information to your advantage,” he says.
4. Dress to impress. Right or wrong interview attire can say a lot about you. If you come underdressed it may send the message that you don’t care enough about the job to throw on a suit or business attire. Because hiring managers are going to judge you based on your outfit, it’s important to dress appropriately. “You can always recover from being overdressed but you can never recover from being underdressed,” says Downs. What’s more, she says you have to be on your “A Game” during the interview which means no slouching, no eye aversions and no meek handshakes. “You want to make sure you ask intelligent and appropriate questions.” she says.
5. Make your personality show. Recruiters and hiring managers interview a slew of qualified candidates during the hiring process, and what makes one stay in someone’s mind more than the other is personality. According to Ricklefs, the ones that stand out are the ones that show their true self. “Share your passion, your goals and your vision. No one wants to hire or work with a boring person,” says Ricklefs. “Make sure you do the talking; not your resume.” Hiring managers know how to see past the fluff and bluffs, so if you have to fake your way through the interview, chances are the company and/or the job isn’t a good fit for you.
Another mistake that job seekers make is bashing their former employer. Even if your old boss was a complete idiot it’s not a good idea to diss the former boss on the interview. “Employers don’t like complainers,” says Ricklefs. “Be professional, courteous and focused on the future possibilities, not past complaints.”
6. Thank them profusely. Whether the interview went good or bad, you have to make sure you thank the people who gave you the chance to interview and follow up with a thank you email expressing why you would make a good fit for the job. If you met multiple people a major mistake would be sending them all the same email, says Downs. It’s much better to make each thank you email unique to the conversation and to focus on the things that were relevant to the particular person. While you may think you’ll stand out if you send a handwritten thank you note, Downs says you are better off sending it via email. “Decisions are made very quickly,” she says. “It’s much faster than snail mail.”