Candidates often spend lots of time on the process of searching for job opportunities. Hours go into scanning LinkedIn and Indeed, making phone calls, preparing, and emailing resumes out, all in hopes of creating interest in their candidacy. Because so much work goes in to getting noticed and landing a phone or face to face interview, often times, there is little energy left to adequately prepare for the opportunity to actually interview. Below are some simple suggestions to ensure that all that hard work in attaining an interview isn’t wasted and that an offer for employment will surely follow.
- Take a call with loud background noise. Windy days and busy streets are not going to do you any favors. Have the professional courtesy to reserve a conference room or find an alternative private quiet place to take a call from a hiring manager or recruiter.
- Answer calls unprofessionally. “Yo!” shouldn’t be your first impression. If you are giving your cell phone number out to employers, expect a call from one at any time and answer every call as if it is your next boss.
- Multitask or take another call. It becomes obvious if you aren’t concentrating on the opportunity at hand. Drop everything you are doing when you receive an interview call and never answer call waiting.
- Pretend to know everything. If there are required skills listed in the job description that you do not have experience with, don’t worry. Simply state that you are familiar with that skill and that you are genuinely interested in developing that experience. Many hiring managers will overlook a lacking skill set if they are convinced the candidate can learn and has a genuine interest in acquiring the knowledge in question.
- Monopolize the conversation. A conversation is like a game of catch. Make sure you throw the ball back.
- Wing it. Prepare for typical interview questions. Have a story. Know the narrative you want to present to a future employer. What are your unique accomplishments?
- Take credit for the work of others. Too much collaboration means you might not have contributed enough independently. Be sure to balance presenting your ability to work in a team, with our ability to work autonomously.
- Emphasize the number of direct reports you managed. Life science accomplishments are rarely measured by this metric. Most positions, even at the senior levels of an organization, require technical strength which can’t be measured by the number of people who work for you.
- Stalk the recruiters. Hiring managers and recruiters run from the overly aggressive or desperate candidate. Calling every other day is not OK.
- Forget the mute button. Mute is your best friend for the unexpected cough, sneeze, or unwanted office guest. Mute can buy you the 5 seconds needed to handle the unexpected disruption and allow it to go unnoticed.
- Prepare. Ready a list of your accomplishments. Know thyself. Speak to your strengths and be able to talk about tangible results.
- Have questions ready. Not having any questions will be perceived as lack of interest, but stick to questions about the actual work, product pipeline, or culture of the group. Do not ask questions about workday length, paid time off, or anything personal about the interviewer.
- Practice. Mock interviews with a trusted friend are a great way to prepare. Sometimes knowing what you want to say and actually saying it are two different things.
- Smile. Whether in person or over the phone a smile is the best way to break the interpersonal divide and convey warmth.
- Be enthusiastic. Standing while speaking on a call can help convey confidence. Whether face-to-face or over the phone, be sure to have enough inflection in your voice to make sure the interviewer knows you have the proper energy to succeed. Many hiring managers look for passion over skills.
- Know the team and the company. Do your research, read the last yearly report and latest press releases. Search the names of the interview panel on LinkedIn or a leverage a database and scan through the papers they have published. Familiarize yourself with at least one thing about each person you will be meeting and be sure to mention that fact in your interview. If you do this, you will truly stand out.
- Interview your interviewers. This is your chance to learn not only the nuts and bolts of the organization but also the culture of this potential employer. Do people like working for this hiring manager? Find out your boss will have a disproportionate influence on your quality of life.
- Exude humility. Arrogance at any stage in your career is ignorance. Some of the most successful scientists I know are humble and gracious. Let your accomplishments speak for themselves. Conversely, don’t be a shrinking violet either. No matter what the position is, a management role or not, interviewers are looking for candidates who can lead. Throughout the day try and work in examples where you have led others.
- Be Specific. Describe situations/tasks you’ve faced, the actions you took, and the results you have achieved. Past is a predictor of future behavior, so be prepared to cast a positive light on those experiences.
- Establish next steps. Stay positive, ask when you can follow up, and make sure to take down the contact info of those you speak with so you can thank them afterward.
Interviewing can be an overwhelming experience, especially for new grads entering the workforce, or seasoned professionals that are finding themselves on the market for the first time in many years. Follow this advice and you will not only interview great, but you will also increase your chance of landing that job as well.