The job market has always been competitive, and research shows recruiters look at your résumé for just six seconds before deciding to keep or delete. If you do get the interview, you have to impress the higher-ups to make sure they choose you over every one else.
However, there are ways to prepare to give yourself an edge, from your résumé to the handshake at the end of the interview. Here are five tips you need to know to nail an interview and land the job.
Don’t Get Creative With Your Resume
Your first impression starts with your résumé. You may be tempted to arrange photos on your résumé and include lots of color and fancy fonts, but the experts say you should resist that impulse. Recruiters have a mental idea of what they are looking for and not being able to find it easily may frustrate them. Include your education and skills near the top. Recruiters are looking for the minimum requirements for the position, such as whether you completed an executive MBA program.
When you are describing your work history, use quantifiable descriptions, such as “sales increased by 30 percent during my tenure.” Show the steady progression of your career and be ready to explain any large gaps in employment.
Do Your Research
When you’re hunting for a job, you may apply to dozens of positions. Learning the background information on each company is time-consuming, but you must do it. At the very least, visit the website of the company to check on current news and events. Be ready to congratulate executives on a recent award — or stay away from a touchy subject that has recently been in the news unless you are asked. You don’t have to incorporate what you know into your interview right away, but it’s best to be prepared if they ask what you know about the company.
Dress the Part.
Even if you are interviewing for a job that doesn’t need a suit everyday, wear a suit during the interview. Play it safe with solid colors, neat slacks or skirt, and a matching jacket. Groom yourself appropriately and arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of time to visit the restroom to check yourself in a mirror. Turn off your cell phone. If you want to have fresh breath, do yourself a favor by having a mint on your way to the interview so that the job is done by the time you get there. Never have candy or gum in your mouth during the interview.
Use the Mirroring Technique
Interviewers are people, too. Don’t go into the interview on auto-pilot, prepared to act a certain way as if you are giving a performance. Instead, experts recommend that you use a technique called mirroring.
The mirroring technique is taking your cues from the interviewer. If they are quieter and more subdued, don’t be loud and overconfident in your responses. Instead, adjust your behavior and demeanor to the tone they have set to make them more comfortable. You can subtly adjust your behavior. Mirroring is not obvious mimicking of a person but it is used to reflect only positive speech and body language.
Watch What You Say
Once you have adjusted your demeanor to fit that of your interviewer, your work is just beginning. Be yourself and exude a quiet confidence and assurance that you can get the job done. Be comfortable but not the point that you are talking to the interviewer like an old friend as opposed to your potential boss. Stay on track and don’t talk about personal problems, bash your current boss, or spend too much time on irrelevant topics.
Carefully listen to the questions asked and consider your answers before you respond. Gauge reactions to your responses to decide if you should continue on topic or switch subjects. Ask thoughtful, forward-thinking questions of your interviewers when they give you the opportunity.
Landing a job in today’s economy may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. If you play up your strengths and adjust to your interviewer, you will have a great interview and ultimately, a great job.