5 things hiring managers wish you’d do at an interview

So you polished your resume, crafted a standout cover letter, and landed an interview—great! Now’s your chance to shine. There are many ways to help get your shine on—you can brush up on how you’ll answer common interview questions, plan in advance for what you’ll wear, and figure out exactly how you’ll get to your interview.

Also, pay attention to the following list of items that hiring managers consistently say they wish more candidates would do:

1. Show up right on time—that is, early, but not TOO early.

One of the worst things to do at an interview is to show up late. But guess what some hiring managers says is a close second? Showing up too early can be frustrating for interviewers who aren’t ready to start the interview—or to entertain you while you wait. Hopefully you’ve mapped out exactly how long it should take you to arrive at your interview, and then you’ve added some time for emergencies. That’s great! But when you do arrive earlier than 15 minutes before the start of the interview, take a walk around the block or find a place to wait (a place that’s not the hiring manager’s office!)

2. Do your research.

Nothing says Not Interested—or worse, Lazy!—to a hiring manager than an interviewee who clearly hasn’t done their research. It’s your job to convince this person that you’d be a great fit for the position and for the company. There’s no way you can do that without researching the company.

The Internet is your friend here. You can start with the company’s website and also do an Internet search for articles and mentions of the company or the industry as a whole. You want to know specifics: what the company excels at, what challenges it faces, what the scope of its business is. What’s the history of the company, and how does it fit into its industry and local community? A helpful tip is to write at least one great sentence that captures something interesting about the company—and practice saying it over and over until you’re sure it will come out effortlessly during your interview.

3. Come prepared.

Remember to bring important items to the interview:

  • Notebook and pens
  • Extra copies of your resume and a list of references
  • Copies of letter(s) of recommendation, licenses, transcripts, etc.
  • Portfolio of work samples

4. Be ready with questions.

Another common complaint from hiring managers is when interviewees answer the question “Do you have any questions?” with “No, it all sounds good to me!” You may thing you’re being agreeable, but to the interviewer you might appear disinterested or unprepared.

What should you do? Make a list of questions to ask during the interview. Pick questions that will demonstrate your interest in the job and the company. This might include commenting on the news you learned from the company website, and then asking a question related to it. Also ask questions about the organization and the job you will be expected to perform, like:

  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
  • What are the biggest challenges you anticipate in this job?
  • How will my responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom?
  • Could you explain your organizational structure?
  • How would you describe the culture of the company?
  • What computer equipment and software do you use?
  • Are there opportunities for professional development?
  • What are the organization’s goals for the next two – five years?
  • What do you think are the best aspects of working for this organization?
  • Is there anything you’ve heard in the interview that concerns you, or that I could address before we wrap up?
  • What are the next steps in your hiring process?

5. Turn off your cell phone!

No exceptions.

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