Here’s how to wow them
Is the Year of the Dog going to be your career’s lucky year? In addition to updating your CV, you’ll want to start thinking about how to approach the interview process. We’ve had our fair share of interviews, with experience sitting on both sides of the table. We also spoke to Kimberly Arth, Co-Founder of Pivot, the Hong Kong-based recruiting firm that connects professional women with project, contract, and short-term opportunities. Here are five of our top tips to help you head into your next interview with the confidence to really wow them.
First Impressions Count
In a perfect world it wouldn’t matter what you look like, what you wear, or anything other than your skill set. However, we know that you need to get in the door to be able to wow them, and the evaluation starts the second your interviewer lays eyes on you. First impressions are all about the details – you want to appear thoughtful, detail-oriented, and considerate of others. This starts with arriving on time (this means aiming to be checked in with reception at least 5-10 minutes ahead of the interview), offering a strong handshake (no weird half shakes or floppy, sweaty hands), dressing up (as appropriate, based on the industry), being pulled together (now isn’t the time to eek a third week out of your peeling soft gel mani), and making good eye contact. This shouldn’t be daunting – you just want to look polished and like you care enough to be well presented.
Know Your Stuff
Sure, this seems obvious but here at Sassy Media Group we’ve had people apply for a job on our Sassy Mama site, and within 30 seconds it was clear they’ve either never bothered to go to the site, or they assumed we meant the job was for the Sassy Hong Kong site. Do your research on the company. Pivot’s Arth points out, “The purpose of the interview is not only to assess your skill set, but also to figure out if you are a fit. Do your best to understand the culture of the organisation before you interview. Speak to people who work there and understand how they operate. This will give you the information you need to illustrate why you would be the best addition to the team.”
Interviewing with a large public company? There will be an incredible amount of information to help you understand the key areas of the company. Meeting with a small private company? Do some creative Googling and check out LinkedIn, in addition to the company website, to become familiar with their work/brand/product and think about the questions you might want answered during the interview. And don’t forget to be an expert on your CV.
“This may seem obvious, but it is important that you are able to speak to every bit of information included on your resume, including interests and hobbies,” says Arth. “Do not include projects and deals that you cannot describe in detail. Opening yourself up to a line of questioning that you are not prepared for will derail your interview.”
Well, as Oprah would say, be your “best self”. Personality matters in an interview but so does remaining professional. Don’t get yourself so nervous that you can’t behave normally and don’t become so comfortable that you are dropping “F bombs” or saying things that could be taken the wrong way. Also, don’t forget that the interview is your chance to bring your CV to life. Think about how you present yourself – use empowering language to give examples of your successes and, as appropriate, your failures. Be personable while answering questions. Your skills count but it is also important that the interviewer sees you as someone she or he wants to work with. Don’t forget to give additional information about yourself (as appropriate). If the interviewer mentions she just got back from New Zealand and you’ve been three times, bring it up.
Be Interested and Interesting
When you are asked if you have any questions, make sure you have at least one relevant question that ideally digs deeper into something that was discussed earlier. You want to show your interest and engagement. Bringing a notebook and taking notes goes a long way here, too. Even if you just write down a few words, it shows that you are into the discussion. Also, don’t forget that the interview is just as much for you to learn about the company, position, and work environment as it is for them to learn about you. What do you need to know to feel comfortable moving on to the next step in the hiring process? In many cases, the decision making can move quickly – next thing you know you are working at a company after one or two interviews. You (probably) wouldn’t get married to someone after two dates, so take the opportunity to gather as much information as possible.
Send a Thank You Note
There is no better way to seal a good impression than with a simple thank you note (nowadays, sending via email is acceptable). Take the opportunity to thank the people you met with for their time and reiterate why you are a great candidate – both in terms of the skills you bring to the role and in terms of being a fit for the company. Sending a note keeps you fresh in their minds, and reminds them you are keen to get the job.