We all know that “preparation is the key to success,” so we spoke with some of the top tech recruiters about the advice they give to their candidates before going into an interview.
Have someone take a second look at your resume
It’s always a good idea to get a second set of eyes on your resume before it lands in the hands of a potential employer. Have someone whose opinion you trust look it over for any glaring errors (e.g. spelling, grammar, formatting) as well as for clarity. Make sure that the message you’re trying to send is actually being delivered.
Do your research
Almost every recruiter we spoke with said they advise their candidates to do their research before walking into an interview. One even pointed to lack of research on the company being the primary cause of candidate rejection. If a candidate is an otherwise perfect fit for a job, but knows nothing about the company or its priorities, they are sending the message that they don’t care enough about the job.
Research the people you are likely to meet with as well as the company and its products. Look up the hiring manager or team members on LinkedIn. Make note of anything you have in common. A shared work history, college, or professional connection can help break the ice.
Researching the company, its products, and key employees is always worth the investment of your time.
Take the time to prepare
Preparation was definitely the most general piece of advice we heard from tech recruiters, but it may also be the most helpful. Here are some of the areas they suggest their candidates focus on:
- Read the job description a few times the day before your interview if it’s available. Remind yourself of what the company’s looking for.
- Review your resume. This is not to check for mistakes, but to refresh yourself on your accomplishments.
- Prepare questions to ask your interviewer and try not to make them generic questions that could be asked of any interviewer at any company.
- Collect project deliverables and examples of your work. Be prepared to whiteboard by practicing some if you have the time.
If you’re giving a phone or video interview, preparation is just as important. Don’t try to do your research on the fly during the call. Your lack of focus will show.
Don’t be late
Being on time for a job interview means being about ten minutes early. Print out a copy of the directions to the interview location and throw it in your car just in case. No matter how much time you’ve spent preparing for an interview, you are unlikely to be taken seriously if you’re late.
Be yourself, be confident, and be positive
Many of the tech recruiters we spoke with say they stress that their candidates try to be themselves in an interview. Remember that “being on your best behavior” does not mean that you need to bury your personality. Be polite, confident, and friendly, but be sure to show your interviewer who you are.
Try and spin any negative answers so you end your sentence on something positive. For example, if you’re asked if you have experience with X, don’t say, “No.” Instead say, “No, but I do have experience with Y” or “No, but I’m very interested in learning more about it” and follow up with a brief anecdote of a time you learned something quickly. Keep the focus on your accomplishments and it won’t matter that you might be missing a skill they were looking for.
End your interview on a positive note, but reminding your interviewer of your interest and asking what the next steps in the process are. Asking about the future will display your positivity and confidence.
Above all, smile! A smile can help you feel and appear more confident and will show your interviewer that you want to be there.
Follow up with your interviewer
Don’t let your interview end when you walk out of the door. Create a lasting impression by sending a thank you e-mail – or better yet, mail them a thank you note to really make yourself stand out. Make sure you have their contact information or exchange business cards at the end of the interview.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Not getting the job isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t always mean you did something wrong. It usually just means they thought someone else was a better fit. There’s always room for improvement, but don’t beat yourself up about every rejection. Stay positive and move onto the next opening!