Every time I’ve ever interviewed a candidate for our company, the minutes before I step into the interview room have always been preceded by emotions of anxious anticipation, excitement and hope.
By the time I’ve gotten to the interview stage with a candidate, I’ve done sufficient due diligence to give me reasonable cause for hope.
Hope that this is the last interview. Hope that I can stop reviewing resumes, stop doing due diligence, and stop interviewing more candidates. Hope that I can get back to my backlog of work. Most importantly, hope that I will have found someone who could really help our company.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that when you’re being interviewed for a position, your biggest fan is likely the person sitting across the table.
Why is this important?
Well, if your interviewers are full of hope and rooting for you, it would be great to analyze what they are hoping for? Most certainly, they are hoping you have a firm handshake, you dress and act professionally, and you’re “likeable”. You probably didn’t need me to tell you this. However, here are a few less obvious things your interiewers are hoping for.
They hope you know something about their company
During the interview process, I always ask the candidate how much they know about our company. You’d be surprised by the number of candidates who openly say “Not much”. This is an interview-stopper for me. I feel like saying “There’s this thing called the internet. If you had Googled our company name, you would’ve found our website and learned about us to properly prepare for this interview. At least that’s what a professional would have done.” Instead, I gather myself and find the quickest, most polite way to end the interview process. A candidate who doesn’t take the time to properly prepare for the interview likely isn’t going to take the time to properly prepare to talk to our customers.
They hope you ask some good questions
Near the end of the interview, when we ask the candidate “Do you have any questions for us?”, we’re really trying to learn more about the candidate. That is, are they going to be self-centric or company-centric.
Answering “No” to this question is definitely not a good idea. Self-centric questions such as “Do you have flexible work hours?” or “Do you provide sick leave?” or “What are your hours of work?” should be avoided. These are questions you can ask after you’ve received your job offer.
Rather, ask company-centric questions that get the interviewers to talk about their company, their customers and how they win and retain them. If appropriate, ask how about the history of the company and how it was founded? Ask how your job can materially contribute to the company’s goals and mission. Ask about people in the company who can mentor you. Get the interviewers to talk and really listen to the key points. This will give you material for subsequent communication with the company after the interview.
They hope you send them a “Thank You” note
The interview is over, the candidate had a firm handshake, was likeable, professional, and asked some great questions about our company. Now we wait. We wait for the candidate to seal the deal. We want the candidate to “close” us. We want the candidate to demonstrate her professionalism and send us a “Thank You” note.
The main purpose of a “Thank You” note (typically an email) is not to say “Thank You”. Rather, it’s a short (3-4 sentences) note to remind the interviewers about the key (positive) things about your conversation and why you’re the right choice for the job. The “Thank You” note should be sent within hours of interview’s conclusion. Preferable on the same day or the morning after. Here’s a simple, but effective example:
“Dear xxx. Thank you for taking the time to interview me for the position of XXX today. I enjoyed our conversation and came away excited about [one or two main challenges of the position]. I look forward to successfully meeting these challenges.
I want this job and know that I can add immediate value given my experience in xx, yy, zz. If there is anything else I can do to demonstrate my suitability for this position, please do not hesitate to contact me. Sincerely, “
If you know what your interviewers are looking for, you’ll turn your biggest fans into your raving fans.