Standing Out In An Interview – #5 – #8:
- Go stealth: Part of your research is talking to employees first hand. Hang out where they eat lunch or go to happy hour and listen in. Better yet, introduce yourself and ask questions about the company. Use your Face-to-face, Linkedin, or Facebook networks to find others at your target company. Talk to company contacts on the phone, or if you have time meet them for coffee. It doesn’t matter what you ask about the company, because you’ll want to listen to HOW they answer, the tone and speed of their speech, and the words they choose. In person, look at how they stand and sit – are they straight or relaxed, formal or informal, expressive or flat, do they gesture or keep their hands unused? Finally, ask about the hiring manager, to see if they are like everyone else, or a rebel.
- Plan your attack: Most people “wing it” to prepare for an interview, and end up randomizing their chances of success. Plan your first 2-30 seconds. Determine how you will stand and walk when you first meet the interviewer, how you will shake hands, how close you will be to them, the gestures you will use, and the first words you will say, and the tone and speed you’ll use when you say them.
- Dress for success has changed: It’s dangerous to just assume a suit interview these days. If you wear a suit to an informal company, you’ll look like you’re from the FBI, and find it difficult to establish trust and rapport. Ask HR or your phone interviewer what is the normal dress at the office.
- Practice: Have you heard that it makes perfect? Practice in front of a mirror, in front of a video camera, in front of friends. If you can video, and then email the first 30 seconds of the video to close online networking contacts (who have never met you in person, but who you’ve communicated with a number of times), ask them for their gut reactions. Ask them what they think of the person in the video. Is the person trustworthy, hardworking, intelligent, personable, dedicated, savvy, insightful, or empathetic? Look for the key words that the company uses to describe successful employees, and see if your networking contract interprets that from your 30 second video.
However, if you learn the hiring manager is a rebel, someone who’s really changing things, or someone described as “different”, you’ll want to ask a little detail. Try to get a contact who knows them, and discover how the hiring manager dresses, how they communicate, etc. If you can’t get details, then change something in your dress – if everyone else is wearing white shirts, wear a blue one. If everyone else wears maroon striped ties, wear a wild tie. For women it’s more difficult because there are more options – make your best guess based on what you learn about the hiring manager’s personality.
How will you manage your first impression, so you’ll get a second or even a third chance?
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