Losing out on a job after you’ve gone all the way through the interview process can be discouraging. But instead of focusing on what went wrong, take the opportunity to ask: How can you improve next time?
For instance, many recent grads don’t realize that, just as they studied for tests, they need to prepare thoroughly for an interview.
There are lots of ways to demonstrate you’re an ideal candidate. Keep these tips in mind to wow your potential future employer at your next job interview.
You didn’t research the company
Before your interview, learn everything you can about the company. Read up on its mission, executive team and new products or initiatives. Take a look at its Facebook page and Twitter feed.
If you know who will be interviewing you, look up their profiles on the company site or on LinkedIn and note where they’ve worked. If an element of their backgrounds relates to a topic you’re discussing, bringing it up will demonstrate that you took the job opportunity seriously.
For instance, if you’re applying for a job as a product manager, and the interviewer worked in that role previously, you could say: “I read in your bio that you have a background in product management. What do you think it takes to be successful in this position?”
You didn’t ask any questions
An interview is a chance to ask questions, not just answer them. While there’s nothing wrong with coming prepared to showcase your skills, don’t let your enthusiasm keep you from learning everything you can about the position and company.
It’s a good time to ask about company culture, as well as about specific projects you’d be working on and what it takes to be successful in the role — anything that’s not clear in the job posting. Thinking of an interview this way: “‘It’s a conversation I’m having about an opportunity,’ versus: ‘I’m being evaluated and I need to make sure I’m getting everything out that I want to say to convince them.’”
Forgetting to ask reflective questions — and giving long-winded, rambling responses — are common ways grads trip up in interviews. So be sure to slow down, and keep answers concise and directly related to the role you’re interviewing for. Rehearse answers to common questions. Prepare questions to ask your interviewer, but leave room for spontaneous ones, too.
You didn’t relate your experiences to the position
To avoid that trap, make references to how you’d apply your skills or experiences to the role.
Say you worked as the community service chair of your sorority, and you’re applying for a job in sales. You could tell your interviewer: “I planned day-long volunteering projects at animal shelters. I developed sales-related skills by persuading students to volunteer, promoting the events on social media and building trusted relationships with our partner organizations. At your company, I’d use these skills to bring on new accounts and strengthen existing ones.”
You forgot to send a thank you note
Following up after the interview shows you’re still interested in the position and appreciate the opportunity.
Lay the groundwork for following up before you’ve even left the room. Ending the interview by letting your interviewer know you’re hoping to advance to the next round.
“The student can simply express enthusiasm for the position,” “‘I really like how this position sounds, and I’m looking forward to the next step in this process.’”
Send a well-written thank-you email, ideally within a day or two. In your email, incorporate a couple of details you learned about the job and stress how much you’d like to join the company.
You could say, “I really enjoyed hearing about the sales team’s new account acquisition strategy. I’m eager to contribute the marketing and communications skills I developed during my internships to help make the initiative successful.”
A good interview takes preparation and a lot of confidence. But your skills improve with each one.
“The more you say things, the more you practice, the smoother you become.”