I hear it all of the time from hiring managers - the candidate looked great on paper, but was not at all prepared for the interview, so they are going to pass. The first initial conversation with the hiring manager can very easily make or break the rest of the process. Here are five tips to prepare you for your first interview:
1. Do your research. This doesn’t mean just scanning through the company website and reading the “About Us” page for two minutes. Take some time to read over any awards or conferences the company has been involved with, and find out what they have been up to recently.
Tip: Go to Google and search the company name, then click news instead of web at the top. This will show you all recent articles that have been published about the company.
2. Know who you are speaking to. There is a 75% chance the manager has a LinkedIn profile page; search their name and learn a bit about the person you will be meeting with. See how long they’ve been with the company and what school they attended. This may generate ideas for questions or talking points as well during the call. No LinkedIn profile? Google their name and company, you should be able to find at least something about them on the company page or an article written in the past.
3. Study your resume. I strongly recommend having your resume up in front of you while taking the phone call. The hiring manager will more than likely have yours up too, and there is a good chance that he/she will want to go over your background in detail. It can be nerve-wracking to remember previous dates and/or accomplishments in the moment of the interview; having your resume up while talking will make sure you don’t miss a beat.
4. Study the job description. Look over the main responsibilities of the position and think about how that relates to what you have done in the past. Maybe you have an accomplishment that you can relate to one of the bullet points. Knowing what the manager is looking for and what qualifications the candidate must have is a great way to tailor your answer towards some of the questions he/she may ask (i.e. sharing a time where your attention to detail or multi-tasking skills helped you finish a project on time or before the deadline).
5. Rest up and smile! There are few things worse than talking to a candidate on the phone who is tired and has no energy. If you do not sound excited about the company and the position, the manager is never going to be enthused to hire you onto the team. Get plenty of sleep the night before and smile when talking on the phone…you will be surprised at how much of a difference it can make!