Through forty years of recruiting in the market research field we have distilled down from client feedback words of advice for candidates going through the interview process. We believe following this advice will go a long way in helping you nail your interviews and stand out while doing so. Here are the three key areas that are the most important when heading into each and every interview 101: be prepared, be honest and be thankful.
Know who you are talking to. Research the company and do your due diligence on the organization. A thorough understanding of their services and their clients will help you align yourself better with what they are looking for. Be able to articulate why you are interested in working for their company.
Find out as much as you can about the role and be ready to align your skills and experience with the open role. Develop an understanding of the backgrounds of the people you will be interviewing with and the backgrounds of the others who work in the group, even if they aren’t on your interview schedule. This could help give you a foundation for what kind of questions you can expect. For example, if they have a more technical background expect more technical questions to be asked.
Practice clear answers to the interview 101 questions of why you are in the market and why you are looking. If you are looking outside of your current organization, be ready to explain what has you looking for a new role without putting you or your current organization in a negative light. Don’t overshare and don’t look for sympathy.
Know your elevator pitch. Be able to sell your skill set in a direct and concise manner. Do not ramble on in your answers. Being concise and clear is a good sign of confidence in your skills and portrays you and your candidacy in a positive light. It is fine to pause before giving your response, it shows you are truly thinking through the question.
Another interview 101 technique is to always come with questions. When you are given time to ask questions, come with a few detailed questions prepared. You need to have more than one question prepared in case that question gets answered in the normal course of the interview. If you do not have any questions at the end of the interview, you come off as having a lack of interest in the organization.
Interview 101: do not oversell your skill set. The best policy in every instance is to be transparent about your skills and capabilities. If you haven’t used a particular software or don’t have experience in a certain methodology, don’t try to convince them you do. The motivation behind some questions isn’t always clear and they might not even be primary functions of the role. The interviewer is just trying to get the parameters of your experience. Answer all questions honestly and directly.
Do not give them the run around. Be confident and concise in your responses. It shows you can speak to your skills well and you know where your value lies for this organization.
In-person, thank them for their time, for considering you for the position and for answering your questions. (It is also the right time to inquire what next steps will be.) Interview 1010: email a thank you note. Keep the thank you short and to the point but try to include something that refers to your interview or your candidacy specifically. No one wants to read a two page thank you note on why you think you are a fit for the job, but they will appreciate a well-crafted note that references something specific to you.
Here are a few good questions to close out the interview:
- What is the timeline for decision making?
- What is your email? I’d love to follow-up with a thank you.
- Is there anything else I can answer or clarify?
These are NOT the questions referred to in the ‘be prepared’ section. Those questions should be more specific to the role, the company and its products and the skills needed.
For more interview 100 preparation follow this link to our in-depth interview prep sheet. We’d love to talk with you about your job search. Contact Smith Hanley Associates’ Market Research and Consumer Insights Executive Recruiter, Daniel Wilberschied at [email protected].