Here’s the good news – if you’re getting interviews, your resume is doing its job – assuming you’re getting interviews for the types of positions you want. But what you do before, during, and after the interview can increase your chances of getting the offer.
Before the interview, do your homework!
Review the company’s website and LinkedIn profile to learn more about the key personnel, the work they do, their clients, and potential areas where you might be an asset. See what current and former employees have to say. Check your network for connections or help learning more about the targeted company. If you know your interviewer’s name, Google him or her. Check out his or her LinkedIn profile and social media accounts. And prepare a list of targeted questions to ask in the interview — 3 to 5 questions that demonstrate you’ve done your homework and that, when answered, will give you additional insight into the company.
In the interview, listen carefully.
Your interviewer is assessing your fit with the company, and you should be doing the same. You want to make sure that this job is right for you, too!
One area where executive job hunters are caught off-guard in an interview is being prepared to give a “closing statement.” If you’re given the opportunity in the interview, be ready to summarize (in a few minutes) why you think you’d be a good fit for the position. If possible, incorporate the additional information you’ve learned in the interview itself. Prepare the key points of this closing statement in advance, but practice it until it sounds natural, not canned or rehearsed. And before the interview ends, ask if the interviewer needs anything else from you to help with the decision – a list of references, a 30-60-90 day plan for what you’d do in the first three months on the job, etc.
At the end of the interview, ask what the next step is.
You want to know if there is another round of interviews, and when it will begin, or when the hiring decision will be made. Ask if it’s okay to follow-up, and if they’d prefer phone or email. Remember to specifically express your interest in working for the company! That’s important.
Immediately after the interview, send a follow-up/thank you note.
Handwritten notes (or word processed) are always appreciated, especially if you can mail it the same day (and the hiring timeline allows sufficient time for it to be sent and received). Otherwise, an email follow-up is fine. Express your appreciation for the opportunity to meet, reiterate your specific interest in the job and the company, and confirm the “next step” — whether that’s information you’ve promised to provide, or what you’re expecting from the interviewer.
If you don’t hear back from the interviewer within a reasonable time, then make sure to follow up.
Just remember that hiring often takes much longer than expected, so don’t be a pest. Be respectful in your follow-up efforts. (For example, you can say: “You had mentioned that you thought the second round of interviews would start this week, and I just wanted to make sure that you had everything you needed from me to assist in your decision making.”)
Follow up with the interviewer to get feedback.
If you don’t end up getting another interview — or the job offer — try to get feedback from the interviewer — specifically, why another candidate was a better fit. You may not be able to obtain this information (hiring managers may not take the time to respond or want to answer this question), but if you do get this type of feedback, it can be helpful in your overall job search.
If you can’t reach the hiring manager, take note of who is ultimately hired, assess that person’s professional profile, and see if there was something that might indicate a key qualification (perhaps a certification, or a past employer) that might have set them apart. Sometimes you just won’t be able to tell, so move forward to the next opportunity.