Interviews are Blind Dates
By: Nate Pedronan, Director of Operations | Co-Written by Nikki Flowers
When heading for an interview, the biggest questions on an applicant’s mind are usually, “How can I impress them? What can I do to stand out?” The answer is so simple that it may surprise you. In this article, we will give you our top 3 interview hacks that are guaranteed to set you apart from the competition.
Before we get started, you have to realize that interviews suck for all parties involved. They are the corporate version of a blind date.
The Blind Date
Studies show that on average only 2% of applicants are actually called in to interview (a stat some people who have tried online dating may be able to relate too). When you get called to interview, realize that you are one of the 2% percent, so act like it! Odds are, you already have something they want, or you would not have been called in in the first place.
Just like a blind date, the interview is between 2 parties: you and the hiring manager of your potential job. Someone (typically a recruiter or friend) sets you up to meet with this person who you have never met, nor spoken to.
Just like blind dates, no one likes interviews. They can be nerve-racking, time-consuming, and there is always the risk that the other person could be a complete dud. But still, you go and give it your all because the reward could be well worth it.
Friends set friends up on blind dates because there is something that both parties have in common, and there is a chance for “sparks” or “chemistry”. Similarly, you were set up for the interview because you seem qualified for the role.
If there was an obvious reason you would not be a good match, the meeting wouldn’t even be set up to begin with. The main purpose of the interview is to make sure you and the hiring manager would get along if you were hired…it’s to find out if you and the team have “chemistry”. So, how do you succeed?
Follow our Top 3 Interview Hacks:
49% of hiring managers claim to “know” if a candidate is a fit in the first 5 minutes of an interview. So, start strong! It may seem trivial, but first impressions mean everything, and a smile goes a long way. All-in-all have a genuinely positive attitude in the interview so you seem like someone they would or could want to spend hours a day with. Smiling with your entire body, attitude, and face could make or break this first meeting. Since first impressions happen in the first 5 minutes, this makes my tip #2 also important.
2. Tell me about yourself.
This question or a version of this question is typically asked in those first 5 minutes. Practice it. Be ready for it, and don’t ramble on. Be short concise, direct, and focus on why you are a fit for this employer and role. Remember, they aren’t asking you for your life story, they are asking “how can you solve our problem.” Here are more tips on getting this essential answer right: Interview Questions: Tell Me About Yourself
3. Treat the interview like a date (or coffee with a friend) NOT an interview.
When you meet a friend for coffee do you just sit there answering questions?
What not to do:
Friend: How was your day?
Friend: Okay… How was the party last week?
Friend: Tell me about that project you are working on?
You: It went well.
No, you probably give more detail and ask questions back. Asking questions and engaging with the interviewer outside of a “question/answer” approach is key. Be an active listener… or at least look like one! If you get in the habit of weaving questions in with your answers you will accomplish 3 things:
a) You tell a story. Interviewers will probably forget your name but they will be more likely to remember a story. This will help you sand out
b) You get the interviewer engaged. Interviews are boring! Asking them questions will keep them engaged and on their toes. More importantly, it will make sure they don’t “check-out” mid-interview and remember you.
c) You minimize risk/they take up time. First, remember that if they called you in to interview, they already like you and are just waiting to see if anything is wrong with you. Secondly, interviews are usually about 45-60 minutes per round. Minimize the risk of you saying something that will turn them off, by making them answer your questions. The more they talk, the more time they suck up and the less you risk saying something wrong. Not only will you seem insightful, but people love talking about themselves and about things they are experts in. Be an active listener and you’ll be surprised about the outcome.
The bottom line is to have a positive attitude. I can’t tell you how many times candidates have disqualified themselves by seeming difficult to work with, unhappy, close-minded etc. Be genuine, smile, never speak badly of a past job, and sound hopeful for the future – yours with the company specifically.
Remember, if you are scheduled for the interview, you mostly have the job in the bag. At this point, they just want to see how good a fit you are in person and if you mesh well with them and the other people on the team.
No one sets people up on a blind date if they think it will be a waste of time and similarly, no recruiter would set you up with a hiring manager interview if they didn’t think you had a chance. So, smile, be approachable and have a real conversation with the hiring manager NOT “an interview” if you want to stand out.