Great news! You were invited for an interview so obviously the recruiter saw something in your resume and cover letter that they believe would add value to their organization in this position. The interview is your opportunity to sell yourself. You prepare for your interview and assume that the hiring decision will be based on your responses to the questions asked. Think again – recruiters also consider other factors in evaluating you as a candidate for this position.
Your Social Media Presence
Most recruiters will check you out on social media prior to an interview. Expect them to look at your LinkedIn profile. Does it match your resume in terms of your work experience? Do you have recommendations? What skills have you chosen to highlight? What types of connections do you have? What groups are you in? What can they learn in advance about you?
Some recruiters will also look on Facebook. If your security settings are not carefully set they can see your photos from spring break, your rants about the election, and whatever other personal aspects of your life you have shared. What kind of impression will this make on the employer? I’ve seen candidates eliminated from the process because of what employers learned on Facebook. They will also check Twitter and other social media platforms.
Google yourself prior to the interview. See what the employer will see when they do it so you are prepared for questions. Is there someone with the same name and a notorious past? Don’t be caught off guard, know what they will see when they check you out.
While workplaces are generally much more casual these days than in the past, it is important to remember that you are dressing for an interview not a day at work. Even a casual environment wants to know that the candidate can present themselves effectively in a client meeting. Professional attire can also signal to the recruiter that you are taking this opportunity seriously. I’ve heard of candidates not be hired because they didn’t dress appropriately but have never had an instance where the candidate was not hired because they showed up in a suit. For an interview, be conservative, and dress professionally to make the best possible impression.
Your Non-Verbal Communication
You communicate with so much more than words, particularly in an interview. Are you sitting up straight, making good eye contact and using an appropriate tone of voice? Slouching in the chair, staring out the window, fidgeting with your pen, or playing with your hair can all send a very different message to the recruiter. Present yourself as confident and engaged throughout the interview. This can be even more challenging during a phone interview when it is only your voice that conveys your presence. For a phone interview, keep a small mirror nearby to remind you to smile since it will show in your voice. Do not do anything distracting since that will take focus away from your responses to the questions. While verbal, be very careful of using filler words such as “like”, “um”, “ah” or even too many “ands” to string your thoughts together. This can be distracting to the recruiter and it implies that you are less prepared and confident.
Your Fit with the Organization
Recruiters know that there are often multiple candidates who have the appropriate skills to be successful in the specific job. Their goal is to assess the fit of the candidates for the organization. Is this someone the rest of the team will want to work with on a daily basis? Does this individual fit the culture of the company? Will this candidate be aligned with the mission of the company? Fit matters and leads to successful hires.
You may have the most amazing interview but if the last time the recruiter hears from you is when you shake hands at the door, you are damaging your chances of landing the job. Follow-up is critical. In an interview situation, it is critical to follow up to demonstrate your interest and your professionalism. If time is of the essence (and it usually is), send an email to each person your interviewed with and thank them for their time. Reference something you specific you learned from that person or something interesting you discussed. Do not send a group email. They deserve an individual thank you. Follow up your email with personal handwritten thank you notes to each interviewer. Send it within 24 hours of your interview. You will be remembered. It makes a huge impression. Even if you don’t get the job, they will remember you and will often consider you for the next available opportunity. After all the preparation for your interview, don’t skip the final step.
While preparation for your interview questions is still critical, pay attention to these other factors that consistently impact how a recruiter perceives and evaluates a candidate.