How to Impress Your Interviewer
By Lauren Bayne Anderson
June 09, 2011
If you’re job searching you know it’s tough out there—currently there are 4.6 unemployed Americans for every available job. That means you’re bound to have a lot of competition. Even interviews are hard to come by.
With odds like that, you need to make an impression. It’s work, but it can be worth it if it gets you the job.
Think of that old marketing slogan, “It’s easier to keep a client than to find a new one.” These days, job searchers may send out hundreds of resumes before they get an interview. So, if you have a captive audience in an interviewer who is already at least somewhat interested in your qualifications, it’s best to keep them interested rather than trying to find someone else who may be.
Here, some tips on how to impress your interviewer, and (hopefully…fingers crossed) ultimately land the job:
- Do your research. Find out everything you can about the company—search online, set up a Google alert that offers immediate information on any news concerning the company you’re applying with or the industry as a whole. Try to find out background information on the position you’re going up for, the interviewer, anything you can. And when you’re interviewing, work in the information you’ve learned. Your goal is to be the most informed candidate they speak with. Try to speak with people who have had the position—or similar ones—and pick their brains for insight.
- Send a “thank you” card. A handwritten card via snail mail makes a strong impression, simply because no one does it anymore. But an email is better than nothing at all. Use this opportunity to say what a pleasure it was to meet with them, to thank them for their time and consideration and reiterate your interest in the position. You can also use this as a chance to follow up with any information you may have forgotten to add at the interview that may help your case.
- Prepare something professional. If at all possible, come with a professional looking “portfolio” that you can leave with the interviewer— samples of your work if you’re a writer, editor, advertiser, designer of some sort, artist, etc. Even if you’re in a field that doesn’t allow you to put together a book of this type, hand over a copy of your resume, cover letter and letters of recommendation put together in a professional display – bound, nice cover, etc. (You can get this done at any print shop). It makes a strong first impression, and allows your references to sing your praises even before the interviewer has made a decision on whether to ask for them.
- Send letters of recommendation. Many people are surprised to find out the references they thought would be their best, turn out to be their worst once an interviewer gets them on the phone. A rule to live by is to try to get a letter of recommendation from each and every employer you have when you leave a job, or if your manager leaves the company. Imagine: you lost touch with your favorite boss after he leaves the company and you can’t get in contact with him for a recommendation. Don’t let that happen. If you collect letters as you go along, you’ll always have them on hand at any point you should need them, and you know EXACTLY what message your interviewer is getting. If you don’t have letters already compiled, start reaching out to previous employers and gathering them. It’s best to give them at the interview (see # 3). But if you didn’t, after an interview be proactive and send them to your interviewer—it can’t hurt.
- Keep in contact – but don’t harass. Ask your employer about his/her time frame for hiring for this position. And then ask if it would be OK if you checked back in a week or two. If he says he wants to hire immediately, give it a week and a half and then shoot over an email politely asking if they have made any decisions and reiterating interest. You want to show that you’re interested and eager, but you don’t want to overdo it and just plain annoy them.